Designing with Anti-Patterns

Here’s a quick thought experiment to try out at your next design studio: Design a product made to bore, aggravate or offend your customers.

Now compare these anti-designs to your actual offering. How similar are they to each other?

Who Are You Dreaming With?

It’s Monday and I’m doing my weekly strategic planning. This starts with me writing down 10 goals that, if accomplished in the next 12 months, would be beyond amazing. But there’s been something missing lately from my goal setting.

Since most of my goals are for the benefit of the people I love and care about, I like to share that goal with them in the form of a promise. For example, I’m not just trying to pay off all of my debt for the fun of it. I’m paying off debt so I can do a better job of saving for my child’s education.

So to make this goal more real and to help me hold myself accountable, I’m making a promise to my son that I will be debt-free within 12 months. I’m also telling him the specific steps I’ll be taking, and why this is important to me.

It can be tough to share your goals with people because of the fear of failure. But I find that when I share my goals with the people who matter, they tend to support and encourage me along the way. That support and accountability helps carry me through when the going gets tough.

So this is my challenge to you: write a note to the person most involved in your goal explaining why you want to achieve the goal and what you’re going to do to succeed. While you’re at it, why not tell them the things they can do to help keep you on track? You’ll soon see that your goals are much easier to achieve when you have the people you love cheering you on.

Beware the ESG Performance Gap

In the May 2013 edition of HBR, Robert G. Eccles and George Serafeim demonstrate the need for companies to incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) into their core strategic innovation initiatives.

The ESG performance gap shows the effects of non-strategic implementations.
As environmental, social and governance (ESG) improves, a firm’s financial performance declines — unless ESG is incorporated through strategic and substantial innovation.

At MX Conference 2013, “triple bottom line” was an idea that came up repeatedly. I thought at the time that companies seeking to show performance in terms of profit, people and the planet are bound to venture into misguided efforts. Simply slapping a layer of ESG initiatives doesn’t make a corporation not-evil. And as Eccles and Serafeim show, the increased cost of these efforts will diminish financial performance over time because of the increased cost.

The only exception is for companies that treat ESG as a core part of their innovation work. Firms that make strategic decisions to sensibly innovate their businesses in ways that incorporate ESG will improve their triple bottom line, while most companies are sure to abandon their ESG efforts as they fail to realize return on the investment. I hate to be cynical, but ESG is sure to wind up like every sitcom that added a kid as their ratings faltered.