Clarity First Newsletter, May 25, 2018

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

It is so hard to fight the feelings of rage, helplessness and outright depression that Trump’s mean-spirited, narcissistic and short-sighted actions trigger. But when I turn from this existing reality toward the myriad ways that we are also learning to become what my friend Anne Ferrier calls “truly global humans”, I find feelings of hope, excitement and creativity, too. Yes, let’s take Bucky’s advice and make the existing model obsolete. Truth, justice and respect work so much better. Happy Memorial Day weekend.

Karl Marx was right.

Rising income inequality, environmental degradation and weakened communities are just three of the negative outcomes of capitalism as we practice it today. As we endeavor to co-create a triple-bottom line model – one that emphasizes people and planet as much as it does profit – it is important to understand why. One hundred and sixty tears ago Karl Marx observed that the source of value in capitalism is living labor. He also noticed an inherent contradiction: capitalism tends to eliminate living labor as a necessary dimension of its development. This means that capitalism is never stable, but forever shifting in and out of crises. The system depends on human labor while simultaneously eradicating it. As the modern titans of industry make ever greater investments in AI and robotics, this reality needs to be at the center of the Capitalism 2.0 discussion.
Article: Capitalism is Unfolding Exactly as Karl Marx Predicted.

There could be a boom in employee-owned business ahead.

With new tools and political policies now in place to support them, retiring baby boomers are finding that selling their companies to their workers is a win/win option.
Article: More U.S. Businesses Are Becoming Worker Co-Ops: Here’s Why


Fair Trade algorithms

“The seal is the brainchild of Cathy O’Neil, a statistician and author who has written extensively about how biased algorithms exacerbate inequality in society. Her writing–both on her blog Math Babe and her influential 2016 book Weapons of Math Destruction–has become a touchstone in conversations about the way algorithms in the areas of hiring, insurance, criminal justice, and credit can negatively impact people’s lives.”
Article: This Logo is Like an “Organic” Sticker for Algorithms

Design Process

How to use design sprints to solve big, hairy and audacious challenges

Jake Knapp created the design sprint at Google in 2010, ran over 100 sprints with startups at Google Ventures from 2012–2017, and then wrote the book Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days about the process.

He describes the design sprint as a tool for very specific situations:
– You have a big project or big problem to solve,
– You’re just starting out,
– You don’t have the answer, or
– It’s going to cost a lot of time or money.

“I would say that as of 2018, most people are not doing design sprints in those situations. Most people are raveled up in old-fashioned office behaviors: endless arguments, decision churn, extroverts dominating group brainstorms, following hunches and wasting months or years,” Knapp says. This article has some good ideas about unraveling people from those old-fashioned office behaviors.
Article: Bringing Design Sprints Inside Your Company

Design Process

Avoiding stupidity is easier than seeking brilliance. 

“Inversion is a powerful tool to improve your thinking because it helps you identify and remove obstacles to success. The root of inversion is ‘invert,’ which means to upend or turn upside down. As a thinking tool, it means approaching a situation from the opposite end of the natural starting point. Most of us tend to think one way about a problem: forward. Inversion allows us to flip the problem around and think backward. Sometimes it’s good to start at the beginning, but it can be more useful to start at the end.”
Article: Inversion and The Power of Avoiding Stupidity

Graphic Design

Hometown pride

This is a great survey article of 15 packaging designs that use just three colors. I was pleased to find Esselon, a favorite mid-Valley meeting place and roaster, featured in the mix. A special shout-out to Brigade, Esselon’s design firm, for the confidently quiet design. Bravo to client and firm together. You managed to conjure the spirit of our beautiful Pioneer Valley in a few lines, and just three colors.
Article: 15 Packaging Designs That Feature the Use of Three Colors

Visual Identity

Visual identity now has a third dimension

“Before brands behaved statically, then with the arrival of the digital age, they adapted into motion,” says Pràctica cofounder Guillem Casasús. “Now with the arrival of interactivity, [dimensionality] is the natural next step to be taken, and it is going to change the way we think [about] communication design.”
Article: The Future of Branding? The Third Dimension



“The Berklee Mediterranean Music Institute (MMI) brings together performers, artists, teachers, scholars, and students to engage in cultural and music research and study, and to perform the diverse music of the Mediterranean.”

This week’s Playlist is a recording of a February 2015 MMI session of a student group performing Carlos Eleta Almarán’s Historia de un Amor.

The singer and bass player is Tonina Saputo, who released Black Angel, her first album, last month. She is one to follow. You can start by following her on Facebook or Instagram.


Image of the Week

The images of the week are by Japanese street photographer Shin Noguchi. They’re from a series he calls “Something Here”. About the work he says: “I’m here, just here. You’re here, just here. There is something here, something beautiful something special. It may last but a moment, but we are always connected to each other. I want you to feel that, when you see my work.” (Thanks to Booooooom.)

What’s Clarity First?

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

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