Clarity First Newsletter February 23, 2018

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

The two loops model of change sees change and transition as waves. As one system culminates and starts to collapse, a new wave, or loop, begins to arise. As the new, emerging wave gathers coherence, previously disparate and independent ideas start to make sense as parts of a new, larger whole. Finally, the older system gives way to the new.

I thought of the two loops model while compiling this week’s letter. Our current systems, systems built on patriarchy, control, ownership and greed, are starting to show signs of collapse. And right on schedule there are new systems emerging, systems built on collaboration, cooperation, sharing and generosity. The spontaneous emergence of a youth movement for gun control is one shining example.

I think of this letter as a scrapbook where I can tack down some of the ideas that these new systems are emerging from, ideas that today may still seem disparate and independent. But tomorrow…

A school that focuses on cultivating happy students and compassionate people.

There is a new school being built near Chennai, India, with a unique but obvious goal: to teach children to be happy. You won’t find standardized tests here, but you will find a tree-filled meditation room, an ideation lab, and a test kitchen.

“We want to cultivate happy kids, compassionate people, people that are going to go out into the world and do something good.” [Image: Kurani]

“It’s our view that happiness–or emotional intelligence, or balance, or confidence, or self-esteem, or any other word for feeling good about ourselves and our place in the world–is the foundation on which great lives and great achievements are built,” says Riverbend School cofounder Vivek Reddy.
Article: This School Focuses On Teaching Students Happiness, Not Math.


“Designers and artists create objects, devices and services that are more engaging, more efficient, more desirable and ultimately, more human.” – John Maeda

“Artists and designers will be the innovators of this century.”

Upstart Co-Lab thinks that artists make the business, government and social sectors better. They’ve issued a report that makes any organization want to have their own artist in residence.
Report: Great Minds Don’t Think Alike. Artists as Innovators in Business, Government and Society


The good old days.

Conservatism has been called the “politics of nostalgia”. Researchers have measured that those on the right “have an intuitive preference for political ideas that contribute to maintaining society how it was and has been.” So, what happens when you frame progressive ideas as a return to the way things were, as opposed to a path to a brighter future? Two researchers tried it. They found the approach markedly decreased conservatives’ resistance to liberal ideas, even when dealing with such hot-button issues as immigration and guns.
Article: Conservatives’ love of nostalgia can be used to promote liberal values.


Learning to see change resistance

You believe in change. Everyone on your team says they believe in change. But somehow your organization is resistant to change. That’s why Tom Haak created Change Resistance Bingo. The prompts will help you see the patterns that bind.
Article: 24 Ways to Tell if You (or Your Team) Are Resistant to Change


Today, consumer preferences are increasingly shaped by buyers focused on purpose. 

“Sixty percent of customers currently report making socially conscious buying decisions and 83 percent of customers say that buying from a sustainable company is important.”
Article: Purpose Differentiates in an Age of Disruption


Six types of lists, six ways to think differently.

List making as creative tool

“Lists help get thoughts out of our head and onto paper or a screen where we can see them. They help us organize information so we can see patterns and relationships between things. They make abstract concepts tangible by pushing us to name things.”
Article: 6 Incredibly Powerful Ways to Think More Creatively


This is why marketing should be the conscience of an organization.

Umair Haque observes that when the ad industry was threatened by AI and automated buying, it had three choices: 1. ignore the reality, 2. fire the people that make great advertising worthy and invest in AI and automation instead, or 3. stretch, invest and grow. In the third scenario the industry could have reached to communicate and connect more effectively, not just more efficiently. But the industry chose 1 and 2, the easy ways out. So now it’s dying.

Haque says that this is a shame, because marketing can and should be the conscience of an organization. “It should be the part of an organization that says, “hold on. That’s a really bad idea. You might make some money in the short term, but you’ll sacrifice your reputation, your name, your sanctity, your values, your principles. And the moment those go, then you lose the worthiest thing you really have in this world of broken, disintegrating bonds: trust.”
Article: How Advertising’s Killing Itself



Brittany Howard and Alabama Shakes sing and play into one very old mic.

I’ve mentioned before how cool it is to have adult kids who have great taste in music. This week it was daughter Mia who steered me right. Her emails are short and direct.  “have you read about this?” She linked to a wikipedia post about a bunch of audio freaks who had gathered spare parts from all over the world and, over a 10 year period, rebuilt a working version of the first ever electrical sound recording system, a system last made in 1925. Then, to demonstrate what first generation audio recording sounds like, they hired Nas, Alabama Shakes, Elton John, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Jack White, Taj Mahal, Ana Gabriel, Pokey LaFarge, Beck, Ashley Monroe, Steve Martin and … to record on the device for the first time in 80 years. They got Jack White, T-Bone Burnett and Robert Redford to produce the sessions. Then they made a film of the performances, American Epic.

watch this:
Alabama Shakes record a cover of Killer Diller.

“and this:
Jack White and Elton John play a new blues song called “Two Fingers of Whiskey.”

Pitchfork: “John is asked to improvise a new song from lyrics that his longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin handed him. John leads on piano, White accompanies on guitar, and their performance is recorded straight to wax.”

“this one’s pretty good, too:”
Charlie Musselwhite and Nas cover the Memphis Jug Band’s On the Road Again.

“Rappin’ is a natural, poetic thing. It’s always been here. As long there was English, and black people, you know what I’m sayin?, there was rap.” – Nas


Then, I added this to her shortlist. Thanks, Mia.
Beck and choir perform Fourteen Rivers, Fourteen Floods

Images of the week

The smaller of the two images of the week is titled Nathan, Kyle, & Duarte, Dartmouth, Massachusetts, March 18, 2012. The larger is titled Huntington Beach, James River, Newport News, Virginia, July 23, 2012. Both are by Keith Yawling, from the series For the Revolution, a project he shot entirely in the original thirteen colonies of what is now the U.S. “The history of our democracy has been a contest between different individuals striving to define their freedom. My photographs look to illustrate the ways that Americans currently define their individual notions of freedom and the impact their decisions have on the contemporary landscape.”
Article: Keith Yawling

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If you’re new to Clarity First, it’s the weekly newsletter by Mitch Anthony, and Clarity, the consultancy that helps mission-driven companies use their brand – their purpose, values, and stories – as powerful tools for transformation. Learn more.

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