A Philosophy of the Moment · Strange Geometries

Can we apply lessons from agile design to redirect business goals, post-Covid?

Yesterday I posted to my LinkedIn network the idea of wanting to write a series of posts about ‘post-covid success’. As in, what are the new metrics for that. I wrote that I was interested in finding a few people to comment, on this topic, through a normal style Q&A that leads me to fantastic places, at times, when I find the right fit for a story.

Currently, the story leads are generally not coming into shape quite yet, so I think I need to illustrate here with a few pre-start posts what it is I want to discover. It’s like that. It’s agile. You take a step.

 

Step one: decide to take a step. Then step. (It’s okay to try things.)

Then you look around. Then you take another step. This is the way we think about things at Design Kompany because largely you don’t know what you don’t know so you have to kind of be willing to take a chance on things.

And stick your neck out, a bit, too. Thankfully the 2013 ‘Year of Uncertiaty’ project, which took DK’s teammates on a roving tour to connect with designers and artists because we wanted to know what they were doing so we just rolled around, mostly on old buses or desperately old trains, to get to the interesting places. Saw the Himalaya.

Went to Nepal, found the media people. Moved to Punjab for the writing residency I had had there. Wrote a book, Kanishka (Kismuth / 2015), but only a full two years later, as it takes time to process, too. The story was based on my own experiences of an event that, in 1985, had had other, different-angled stories and perspectives, in that region of India. I wanted to hear them. The stories that came to me from the ambient spaces and collective unconscious of the field, the sky, and the people I met who shared things.

 

 

Deeply not superficially

People do that. We talk. We talk together. And we go very deeply, sometimes, into that ‘I don’t know what I don’t know’ space. Which became S P A C E. A mini-mag that records the collected moments. Since 2017, it’s been going. Which records this journeying of things into these places, each week, and compiles them into an e-mag. It is handy because I love publishing; I was in newspapers before designing and setting up DK, which is this studio. This studio is also doing some small side projects, including Atelier S P A C E which co-creates on the road when it can. (Not much lately, that’s okay), and virtually (often). Good. It’s good. It works.

So I found an article (see below) that started to get to what I want to get to, which is interesting, timing-wise. Maybe there are loads of us, now, thinking about the new landscape for business, opportunities and costs and strengths and weaknesses, right? And here is something that I liked about what I read, which I’ll share now. First, the source is McKinsey. Here is the bit that was curious to me:

‘Call it the “great unfreezing”: in the heat of the coronavirus crisis, organizations have been forced to work in new ways, and they are responding. Much of this progress comes from shifts in operating models. Clear goals, focused teams, and rapid decision making have replaced corporate bureaucracy. Now, as the world begins to move into the post-COVID-19 era, leaders must commit to not going back. The way in which they rethink their organizations will go a long way in determining their long-term competitive advantage.

‘Specifically, they must decide who they are, how to work, and how to grow.

‘Who we are. In a crisis, what matters becomes very clear, very fast. Strategy, roles, personal ownership, external orientation, and leadership that is both supportive and demanding—all can be seen much more clearly now. The social contract between the employee and employer is, we believe, changing fundamentally. “It will matter whether you actually acted to put the safety of employees and communities first,” one CEO told us, “or just said you cared.” One noticeable characteristic of companies that have adapted well is that they have a strong sense of identity. Leaders and employees have a shared sense of purpose and a common performance culture; they know what the company stands for, beyond shareholder value, and how to get things done right.

‘How we work. Many leaders are reflecting on how small, nimble teams built in a hurry to deal with the COVID-19 emergency made important decisions faster and better. What companies have learned cannot be unlearned—namely, that a flatter organization that delegates decision making down to a dynamic network of teams is more effective. They are rewiring their circuits to make decisions faster, and with much less data and certainty than before. In a world where fast beats slow, companies that can institutionalize these forms of speedy and effective decentralization will jump ahead of the competition.’

Read the story at this link:

https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/from-surviving-to-thriving-reimagining-the-post-covid-19-return

 

The takeaway: Be ready to change everything, at any moment

Here’s why I think it’s interesting.

Of course knowing who you are is always helpful, and a good system of figuring that out is wonderful to have. Consultants like us here at DK can help with branding and brand marketing and brand strategy, I feel, because we used to do that in a very existentialist way for some architects and designers in Seattle who said, ‘Yes, Take me on that journey.’

I didn’t realize how rare this would be, after moving to the Southeast of the United States. So few and far between were the ‘right fit for you’ clientele that I decided we should do a 2012 Year of Dialogue roundtable series around both regions, and then, actually go on a whole giant South and Southeast Asia tour.

I think the world caught up to the fact that all of a sudden, you might find yourself without a safety net. All that stuff about leaping and a net will appear is for privileged people who read books for their lot and who don’t come from those places where narcissists-who-profess-to-care send something called ‘flying monkeys’ out to sabotage you all along the way of your journey because, hey, narcissists love to see you flop.

A mentor on my trip told me ‘it’s best to put a continent between you and …’

Weirdly, the journeying grew into something like a way of life, a nomadic existence, but something else happened too. I didn’t see where I had come from, after a point. I wasn’t really aware of the fact that I had ‘left’ anything. And here I am, still in Asia. Nearly ten. Years. Later. And I totally know who is for real, and who is bullshit, because the road will teach you that.

Like hell. It will.

 

 

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