Design, being a creation of new value, needs to shift now. We know this, but we’re still trapped in the world of things. Why can’t we put our big brains to work – turning problems into opportunities, doing better in the world, and dare I say it, leading by example?
I’ve spent too much of my life mentoring startups with ideas that are not thinking big enough, trapped in old thinking, which will result in filling the world with more stuff we don’t need. Each of us is culpable. Each of us is drawn to the new, to things that may enhance our mood or our confidence at the time. But these are things that can end up in the overflowing recycling bins, and bound for charity shops. Before I point the finger, let me admit I fall into this category more often than not. It’s a struggle.
This morning I read that a branch of the Christchurch City Council has contracted a Canadian firm to design a new brand for our city. Whilst an external organisation can often bring insights that we ourselves are not aware of, we ought to be aware that Christchurch already sits on an opportunity to create a real brand story.
What if Christchurch set the standard for new businesses? It would set us apart to ensure that all new or existing businesses attain a level of social and environmental commitment. This is where money could be spent. Instead of funding evermore startup incubators, maybe we could put some of that money into supporting current businesses, and lift the bar for incubators higher.
I know how difficult it is to imagine something that has no physical dimension, and so much of our design process has been focused on physicality over the years. Sports shoes are a case in point. Another example, closer to home, is that of my late brother and his motorcycle. The sheer physicality of the motorcycle excited response and wonder.
“Instead of funding evermore startup incubators, maybe we could put some of that money into supporting current businesses, and lift the bar for incubators “
My question is always, how might we bring that excitement and wonder to the services and systems we create to support future generations? We already have many of the components we need. A future-focused iwi Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, the very first New Zealand-based B Corps Eagle Protect NZ, and individuals such as Sam Johnson who leads technology for good practice with the Student Volunteer Army. We have Seed The Change | He Kākano Hāpai with Anake Goodall 🕉, we have the Terra Nova Foundation with Rose Challies, all working tirelessly as individual organisations. There are many others of course, too numerous to mention and I apologise to those who have spent years battling the status quo. Can we learn to delay gratification and think longer term, as many of our forefathers did?