Clarity First Newsletter, September 29, 2017

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

Some advice is better than others. On Wednesday, after a new business presentation, Dan Green and I were driving down Mass. Ave in Cambridge. It was sunny and hot and humid and we had the windows rolled down. In reply to a statement that I had made, he said to me: “Some of the best advice I ever got was to compare yourself only to yourself.”

We are a learning species. Learning means starting where you are, not where you were.

The next big thing in design is circular.

A new mindset for business is emerging. “It’s worth around a trillion dollars, will drive innovation in tomorrow’s companies, and reshape every part of our lives.” It must be good, IDEO wrote the handbook. And true to their style, they’re giving it away online.
Handbook: The Circular Design Guide

If someone disagrees with you, it’s not because they’re wrong, and you’re right. It’s because they believe something that you don’t believe.

“If employment is the primary concern of a Detroit auto worker, showing him images of endangered penguins, or Antarctica’s melting glaciers, will get you nowhere. Instead, show him how renewable energy will provide job security to his grandchildren. Now, you’ve got his attention.”
Article: Facts Don’t Change People’s Minds. Here’s What Does

Undocumented immigrants are not mostly “bad hombres”.

To make the case that many immigrants are families desperate for a new life, a French artist, known by the initials JR, has erected a 65’ tall photo mural of a Mexican toddler peering over a section of the existing border wall between Tecate, Mexico, and California, USA. Let reality reign.
Ad Campaign: Giant Toddler Mural Protests Trump’s Wall of Shame

Putting mindfulness to work in the office

Step one: ditch the “neuromythology.” Step two: practice together.
Article: How To Make Mindfulness A Working Advantage (And Not Just Cuddly Nonsense)

Dissolving a problem is the best way to create lasting change. 

Architect, system thinker, and philosopher Dr. Russell Ackoff observed four different ways people can treat problems:
– absolution,
– problem resolution,
– problem solving, and
– dissolving a problem.
Of these, dissolving a problem – “redesigning the system that has it, so that the problem no longer exists” – is the only way to create lasting change. To do so we need to go beyond data, information, knowledge and understanding, to wisdom. “Wisdom”, he says, “makes the transition between efficiency and effectiveness.” Wisdom is about ends. It’s about about what we want instead of what’s not working.
Article/Video: Dr. Russell Ackoff, Design is the Answer

Are your email marketing efforts annoying your audience?

Maybe it’s time take a step back from performance goals and start thinking through the experience you’re crafting for subscribers.
Article: Are You Sabotaging Email ROI by Ignoring the Subscriber Experience?

Test, test, then test some more

Oli Gardner has identified seven design principles that optimize landing pages for maximum conversions:
1. attention,
2. context,
3. clarity,
4. congruence,
5. credibility,
6. closing, and
7. continuance.
It makes a nice punch list of the work to be done.
Article: How Good Design Increases Lead Conversions


Regular listeners know that since the spring I’ve been giving Spotify the chance to prove itself. Every time it plays songs it thinks I’ll like, I tell it whether or not I agree. It’s grueling work, but someone needs to do it. In the first few months of our new game, my biggest frustration was Spotify’s approach to decoding what I mean when I give a thumbs up to an old soul song, for example. I have voted down too many playlists that consisted primarily of old soul. All this time I’ve been saying yes to hundreds of reggae, Cuban, be-bop, hip-hop, trip-hop, off-beat indie that is pretty hard to classify and cool readings of standard songs, too. The good news is that Spotify is learning. Of the 23 songs in this mix Spotify suggested 15. And it made it really easy for me to find and include the other eight songs. For reference, Spotify recommended Le Volume Courbe, and I picked Leonard Cohen. IMO, they go together like beans and cornbread. I am re-upping. I am having fun.
Playlist: Let’s Sway to an Empty Place 

Image of the week

UK Photographer Emma Hardy shoots for some of the biggest brands in Europe. But it’s the images of her family and friends that she shoots on weekends, on old-school film, that capture the playful, quirkiness of life. Of shooting those she loves she says, “I’m not an intruder or even a witness. I’m a participant in the moment with the people I’m photographing. There’s a complete short-cut to honesty, a lack of contrivance. I love waiting for that split second when people – and animals – fall into their own grace, naturally and instinctively.” It’s Nice That has a great collection.

What’s Clarity First?

If you’re new to Clarity First, it’s the weekly newsletter by 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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