Clarity First Newsletter, December 28, 2018


Clarity First

A notebook about how we work, and learn, and love and live. 

The eve of a new year is such a natural time to pause and consider our direction and progress. And I love Prince’s assertion that our best opportunities are found in building new foundations. It makes me stop and notice what new foundations I am building this month, this quarter and this year. What new foundations are you building now?

Happy Friday, dear reader. And happy New Year. Here’s to a year of strong, new foundations.


New Economy
A democratic capitalism would free local communities from domination by monopolists or financiers.

“Small business formation is down, income inequality is up. The heartland has been turned into a set of economic colonies whose wealth is moved to distant financiers. Our corporations, having been allowed to concentrate into monopolies, are now used against us to extract our wealth and constrain our liberties.”
Article: Right-Sizing American Capitalism


IT, Learning Organization, Organizational Culture, Organizational Health
Gartner says learn to ride the wild surf.

“Technology-based change is happening continuously, and most organizations struggle to see the change in advance. Continuous change can begin to seem like chaos. CIOs in end-user organizations must learn to find practical approaches within the chaos.”
Research Report: Top Strategic Predictions for 2019 and Beyond: Practicality Exists Within Instability


Branding, Corporate Activism
This year many brands centered their values around honesty, integrity and empowerment.

“In our latest results from our Retail Innovation Tracker, which ranks experts’ perceptions of 150+ well known consumer-facing brands, PSFK researchers found that the most innovative brands, whether upstart or established, are increasingly positioning their products and services alongside purpose-driven initiatives that simultaneously elevate customers’ perceptions and accomplish global good.”
Article: PSFK Tracker Shows How Purposeful Brands Won 2018 and Will Play 2019


Learning, Design Process
Problems of beginning, problems of progressing and problems of finishing

“Creative designers find inspiration in other designs. While we seek to make work that is uniquely our own, every other piece of design we see is automatically processed and becomes an unconscious part of our design vocabulary. Taking too much is theft. Taking too little fails to acknowledge our influences.”
Article: Learning Design from Musicians


Design Thinking
The challenges of innovation, and how design thinking helps address them

“By now most executives have at least heard about design thinking’s tools—ethnographic research, an emphasis on reframing problems and experimentation, the use of diverse teams, and so on—if not tried them. But what people may not understand is the subtler way that design thinking gets around the human biases (for example, rootedness in the status quo) or attachments to specific behavioral norms (“That’s how we do things here”) that time and again block the exercise of imagination.”
Article: Why Design Thinking Works


Design, Branding
“Emphasizing the intrinsic appeal of an object through rationalization and meticulous elimination of excess”.

“The basis of our product development is to produce basic items that are truly necessary to our life. In order to achieve this, we review product materials, streamline production processes and simplify packaging.”
Article: MUJI Talks Us Through the Brand’s Famously Minimal Design Aesthetic


Typography, Social Messaging
A font in honor of the artist who created the Rainbow Flag

“On 31 March, 2017, Gilbert Baker the creator of the iconic Rainbow Flag sadly passed away. Mr. Baker was both an LGBTQ activist and artist, and was known for helping friends create banners for protests and marches.

“To honor the memory of Gilbert Baker, NewFest and NYC Pride partnered with Fontself to create a free font inspired by the design language of the iconic Rainbow Flag, the font was named ‘Gilbert’ after Mr. Baker.”
Website: Type With Pride



Their Facebook page describes Koolulam as “a social-musical initiative aimed at strengthening the fabric of society. The project centers around mass singing events in which large groups of non-professionals come together to form a collaborative musical creation. Koolulam brings together people from all walks of life to do one thing: stop everything for a few hours and just sing – together”.

On February 14th of this year the group invited 3,000 people who had never met before to sing “in celebration of coexistence” in Haifa, in three languages. They practiced their parts together for less than an hour.

The sheer unadulterated joy the singers experienced in creating such a massive sound together is palpable. Major smiles and tears alert.
Video: Koolulam Covers One Day by Matiyashu


Image of the Week

“Photographer Chris Payne’s “Textiles” series documents the colors, patterns and symmetry of American textile mills. The architecturally-trained photographer, whose usual subject matter focuses on structures and buildings, turned his wide-angle lens to the textile factories across the USA, showcasing rotating sheaths of yarn, spinning thread and mountains of monochromatic fabric scraps in hyperreal shades of fuchsia, orange, purple and aqua. Says Payne of his subject matter, ‘Many mills are doing quite well, having modernized to stay competitive, while others have survived by catering to niche markets that value the “genuine article” produced on the original, vintage equipment. I view my work as a celebration of American manufacturing – not a eulogy.’”
Article: The Shapes and Colors of America’s Textile Mills


What’s Clarity First?

If you’re new to Clarity First, it’s the weekly newsletter by me, Mitch Anthony. I help people use their brand – their purpose, values, and stories – as a tool of transformation. Learn more.

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