Friday, March 30, 2007

Designing for Business: Making the Impossible Possible

At the Design Management Institute's Conference in Copenhagen in mid-March, much discussion occurred that searched to find out how to measure design’s role in the business world. After much debate, one answer was rendered correct: the act of educating management.

For years, designers and managers have been seen as separate entities, and have largely existed on completely different pages. Designers have viewed themselves as strategic visionaries and problem solvers, while managers have trouble grasping that role, not seeing much value in things that they can’t really quantify.

Conference attendees proposed one particular way in which this discrepancy can be resolved: Designers need to educate themselves about business issues in order to become more effective and better designers while simultaneously doing a better job communicating their value to business. There has never been a better time to make these changes, as design is as popular and regarded as ever. But it requires action to truly be taken in order to being some acceptance and adjustments.

The proposal of creating clearly articulated design strategies struck a chord with many. Designers can use the growing body of data that shows that design can have a positive impact on business performance, essentially increasing revenue, profits, market share, and overall competitiveness. Presenting this information to managers can be a truly effective tool, as acceptance will increase greatly.
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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Venture Philanthropy Revamped

In a recent commentary by Susan Herr, founder of PhilanthroMedia, she expounds on "Venture Philanthropy 2.0."

Although the definition of venture philanthropy varies, Herr considers it to be the “efforts of high-net worth donors who invest significant time and money in exchange for clearly defined measures of success and the potential to generate greater than average social returns.”

Herr believes that Version 2.0 has become more sophisticated in the following ways:
  • Ambition has increase immensely. Donors don’t just want to make progress against global problems; they want to solve them.
  • Nonprofits aren’t the only game in town. Rather than having Type A philanthropists work with Type A executive directors to donate funds, new for-profit or hybrid models have entered the scene in order to help donors put their funds where they want.
  • Innovation has become more important than organization.
  • Rather than focusing on building the capacity of promising nonprofits, newer donations are being given to a larger array of cross-sectoral alliances.
These improvements have the potential to change a lot in the promotion of causes and the solving of global problems, despite the skepticism that surrounds the notion of venture philanthropy.
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Friday, March 23, 2007

Big Business Needs Bigger Considerations

In a recent report from the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, results found a growing need for CEOs to increase their efforts in combating social issues that are facing the communities surrounding their businesses.

The study drew four main findings:
  1. Public expectations for the role of business have changed significantly since the 1970s.
  2. New roles and responsibilities are being thrust on companies.
  3. Business is squarely in the middle of a major transition that is reshaping its role in society.
  4. The current business model is on a collision course unless companies recognize that society’s issues are impacting positively and negatively their long-term business success.

Changing expectations for social responsibility and financial performance must be met with long-range planning. This long-range planning delivers on a clear purpose and a new vision for achievement of the company, the employees and the community. It stems from a belief that doing good for the company is doing good for the community.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Philanthropy for results not recognition

The Chronicles of Philanthropy captured insights shared recently by some of the country's largest philanthropists. Bottomline, they will take surprising actions to ensure philanthropic intent. Many of our country's philanthropists aren't donating large sums merely to have their names recognized; rather, they want real change and progress to be made. If it's not going the way they intended, they opt out. They choose results over recognition. Something for development directors everywhere to remember -- know your philanthropists' motivations.
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Friday, March 16, 2007

Details, details, design details

The beauty lies in the detail. Chris Jordan's work work is derived from a true statistic about the world in which we live. Click the link below and check it out:
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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Design storytellers ala Trollback

In an article from February’s How magazine, award-winning designer Jakob Trollback suggests that designers should start thinking of themselves as storytellers, using design as a language of expression. Content and presentation are inevitably linked together, and unless you care equally about what you’re saying and how you do it, it’s impossible to succeed.

Trollbeck offer the following steps for creating wonderfully effective design “stories.”

Pick up the pen. If you spend your time just making things look pretty, the language is pointless. You must make sure that you’re not just decorating; there has to be a reason behind your design. The solution is storytelling. When you start to think of your design as a story, rather than just a creative execution, you’ll find it much easier to recognize and discard gratuitous design. Every element of the composition should add something to the story, or it has to go.

Start with a script. A good way to get started is to put together a creative statement about your project. Coming up with a creative statement can be really challenging. Even though it won’t capture any of the design’s details, it’s about figuring out the essence of your approach- or you won’t have one at all.

The next part of the script involves the determination of the project’s motivation- what purpose is at the heart of the story, what’s the energy that drives it forward. The motivation should look at the end result and formulate it into words.

Set the scene. Once your statement has been established, you can start thinking about the elements that paint the picture and provide the story’s backdrop. All communication exists in a cultural and social environment. Instead of trying to invent your expression from scratch, you have to immerse yourself in this environment and let it serve as inspiration.
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