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The Business Romantic: Designing for Meaning

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Business is one of the most important systems of our lives. We spend the majority of our waking hours at work, and the products and experiences we buy define us. And yet we have divorced business from large parts of our humanity.

For many of us, something is missing, something both essential and immeasurable: romance.

Against the backdrop of eroding trust in capitalism, pervasive technology, big data, and the desire to “quantify” all of our behaviors, The Business Romantic makes a compelling case that we must meld the pursuit of success and achievement with romance if we want to create an economy that serves our entire selves.

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The Business Romantic: Designing for Meaning

  1. 1. The Business Romantic Designing for Meaning / Tim Leberecht / 02.12.14 / nbbj
  2. 2. I am German. 2
  3. 3. I am a soccer fan. 3
  4. 4. I am a marketer. 4
  5. 5. “The problem is not measurement per se. The problem is the loss of balance between valuing what can be measured and what cannot, and becoming so dependent on quantitative measures that they displace judgment and learning.” PETER SENGE
  6. 6. Designing for Meaning
  7. 7. Burning Man
  8. 8. TED Open Translation Project
  9. 9. Tom & Jerry Christmas House
  10. 10. @SochiProblems
  11. 11. 1. Exclude 2. Exchange 3. Elevate
  12. 12. “Goldman Sachs Hires Single Morally Decent Human Being To Work In Separate, Enclosed Cubicle” The Onion Dis-connected Image: The Onion
  13. 13. - 27% of bosses believe their employees are inspired by their firm. However, in the same survey only 4% of employees agreed. (Boston Research Group/LRN) - 72% of workers are indifferent or downright negative towards work. (Gallup, 2013) - 95% of Americans reject the idea that a corporation’s only purpose is to make money. (BusinessWeek) - People regard experts such as academics or even their peers as twice as more trustworthy than institutional leaders. (Edelman Trust Barometer 2013) - 75% of consumers say they are likely to switch to brands associated with a good cause if price and quality are equal. (Trends Report) - Employee loyalty is at a seven-year low. (MetLife 2012) - 1 in 3 employees plans to leave his or her job by the end of the year. (MetLife 2012) - The average company loses anywhere from 20 to 50% of its employee base every year. (MetLife 2012) 47% of consumers say they buy, every month, at least one brand that supports a good cause, a 47% increase from 2010. 72% of consumers say they would recommend a brand that supports a good cause – a 38% increase in two years. (Edelman, 2012) - Consumers say they’re more likely to discuss the good deeds a company does than they are to discuss a company’s financial performance. (Weber Shandwick, 2012, survey) - “Conscious” companies outperform competitors by a factor of 10. (Conscious Capitalism) -
  14. 14. “Market systems are justified not because of efficiencies and profits, but because humans are first and foremost social and emotional beings, and markets provide a sympathetic community for social exchange.” Robert C. Solomon
  15. 15. Enter THE BUSINESS ROMANTIC Makes us see the beauty of the world with “fresh eyes.” Considers business to be more than a numbers game: a powerful vehicle for creating richer human experiences that mean more. Honors our full “un-quantified selves” rather than just catering to our “quantified selves” and our self-interests. Carves out spaces for the ephemeral and transcendent —for experiences that are “greater than ourselves.” Values what is immeasurable but makes us human: values such as empathy, generosity, devotion, love, hope. Small ‘acts of significance’
  16. 16. Traditional Smart Meaningful Planning Acting Wandering Conversion Connection Reconnection Process Dashboard Principles Control Monitoring Letting go Consistency Diversity Serendipity Big Idea Big Data Big Intuition Rapid response Real-time Pre-emptive Segmenting Behavioral targeting Distributed presence Message Conversation (Occasional) silence Visibility Transparency Mystery Risk Calculated risk Vulnerability Benefit Value Values Attraction Liking Love Convenience User-friendliness Frustration Efficiency Excellence Significance Self-interest Quantified Self Un-Quantified Self
  17. 17. Traditional Smart Meaningful Planning Acting Wandering Conversion Connection Reconnection (Nostalgia) Process Dashboard Principles Control Monitoring Loss of control Consistency Diversity Serendipity Big Idea Big Data Big Intuition Rapid response Real-time Pre-emptive Segmenting Behavioral targeting Distributed presence Message Conversation (Occasional) silence Visibility Transparency Mystery Risk Calculated risk Vulnerability Benefit Value Values Attraction Liking Love Convenience User-friendliness Frustration Efficiency Excellence Significance Self-interest Quantified Self Un-Quantified Self
  18. 18. Nostalgia Mystery Frustration
  19. 19. Nostalgia
  20. 20. Moleskine: Analog cloud
  21. 21. Beck: Sheet music
  22. 22. Snapchat: Permission to forget
  23. 23. Make, hardware, local
  24. 24. Secret Cinema: Mystery screenings
  25. 25. Nextpedition: Mystery travel
  26. 26. Surprise Industries: Surprise-as-a-service
  27. 27. Situationist: Random situations
  28. 28. Frustration
  29. 29. “Can my grandmother use it?”
  30. 30. Collisions
  31. 31. Nostalgia Un-reason Transcendence ? Frustration Mystery Generosity Serendipity
  32. 32. Mission Happiness Romance CSR Purpose
  33. 33. THE BUSINESS ROMANTIC Makes us see the beauty of the (business) world with “fresh eyes.” Considers business to be more than a numbers game: a powerful vehicle for creating richer human experiences that mean more. Honors our full “un-quantified selves” rather than just catering to our “quantified selves” and our self-interests. Carves out spaces for the artful and playful —for experiences that are “larger than ourselves.”
  34. 34. “The role of the human is not to be dispassionate, depersonalized or neutral. It is precisely the emotive traits that are rewarded: the voracious lust for understanding, the enthusiasm for work, the ability to grasp the gist, the empathetic sensitivity to what will attract attention and linger in the mind. Unable to compete when it comes to calculation, the best workers will come with heart in hand.” - David Brooks
  35. 35. Thank you. @timleberecht timleberecht.tumblr.com @NBBJdesign www.nbbj.com http://meanstheworld.co

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