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#BeyondCOVID Town Hall - USA 05

#BeyondCOVID is the new mindset we have all had to adopt… how do we operate in this new changed state? I've gathered together some amazing Design Executives to share what they are doing now and in the coming months to survive and thrive in these difficult times.



Contributors:

Rick Bell Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University NYC

Melissa Cullens Founder & CEO at Charette

Dan Formosa Designer at Dan Formosa!

Ronnie Peters Creative Director at Studio 360 & Hyperloop Transportation Technologies

Harry West Professor of Practice at Columbia University and Principal at Invisible Design

Jon Winebrenner President & Founder at Hurdler Studio


Resources:

Charette Studios

Weewash


Transcript:

Mark Bergin 00:00

Hi, welcome to the Design Exec Club, Town Hall, this is the fifth USA Town Hall. I'm Mark Bergin, the founder of DRIVENxDESIGN, and joining me is an amazing panel of some awesome, awesome minds. We're going to continue our conversation and we're going to focus on what are some of the new possibilities that have occurred in this beyond COVID period. But we're also going to be talking about the reacting, the rebounding, and the reimagining. It depends what part of the world you're in, whether you're in one of those phases. I'm in Melbourne, Australia, we're in stage four Lockdown, which means I cannot leave my property except to go to a doctor, or to get food, or to go for a one hour walk or exercise. Nobody is allowed to visit me We are all wearing masks. I think New Zealand, Spain and us have had it. This is terrible, you know, and so there's all sorts of social impacts of coming in that. We've got Jon, you're joining us from Canada, but right on the border of the US, you've got that lovely Vancouver experience where you're half in the US, half in Canada.

Jon Winebrenner 01:10

Yeah, there's definitely a black hole that sucks a lot of our energy down towards the South.

Mark Bergin 01:14

Yeah. I heard somebody said that being in Canada at the moment is a little bit like being in an apartment above a meth lab. It's not good, what's happening down South for you guys. But the rest of you are all on the on the East Coast, I'm pretty sure, yeh? So what I want to do is actually have a look at some of these new possibilities. The the new potential. We've heard about the new normal, well I never go back to normal, and I've never done normal in my life. I don't think any of you have done normal. And design is actually meant to go and shine a spotlight on what's possible and what's ahead. So Rick, you will telling me that with your university work, that there's been new possibilities that have come up for the students, there's been some things have been taken away, they haven't gone out on some of the trips that they would have to places like Chicago to study the amazing architecture there. But you've had online lectures and lecturers that have come in, tell us a bit about that.

Rick Bell 02:22

We could talk about the new abnormal. There's always an abnormal, one way or another, especially in university. With the students, we're looking at ways of understanding how construction technology changes without actually being on the construction site. That actually parallels what's happening in real life, not just in the university, controlled inspections, remote drones and other types of automated mechanisms, looking at what is happening on a site without people actually being there looking at it on the computer screen. For the students, the socialization is last but not really you No zoom is an interesting technology. Here we are. We're talking with people at the university who we might never have been able to talk with before. Students are connecting to people all across the world. No one yet in Sydney, that'll happen, or in Vancouver, but certainly in Beijing and Wuhan and Seoul and learning from the experiences there that are not creating a new normal, but creating a way of looking at the Coronavirus as a disrupter that allows for new things to happen that would have happened otherwise.

Mark Bergin 03:34

I've referred before to Scott Galloway referring to the Coronavirus as being an accelerator. It isn't necessarily an innovator, it's an accelerator. But I think as we go through and we have a talk here amongst ourselves, we're going to find out what some of those innovations that have come out that have been inspired or you know, new opportunities have come around because of that.

Rick Bell 03:57

O even the convergence of old technologies that would not have come together before because of lack of conditions or context.

Mark Bergin 04:04

Yeah. I did a podcast with Jim Semick who was the one of the creators of GoToMeeting. And it was interesting. We talked about GoToMeeting, Skype, and Zoom, and also WhatsApp. And we were looking at the shape of the products and they're like, they're not that different. You know, they're basically they're using a camera, they're using Internet Protocol, but it's how the product has been packaged together, and how some minute changes in whether you were going for a corporate play, which was where offsetting the travel costs of the business person, which was the Go To Meeting model so therefore, that was a charging model, there wasn't a casual use. You had Skype, well, that was actually just let's see if we can connect people together. Microsoft bought it. They taken through a product called Leaf, they've now actually wound up calling it Microsoft Teams, you know, it keeps evolving. For them just as a transport layer, you can't really see it as a product. And then you have WhatsApp where they went for a mobile first strategy. But there is somebody at Facebook WhatsApp who was kicking themselves who's saying, if we only have enabled the cameras on people's desktops, we would have owned the whole market but because they didn't have that, and I went mobile only gave the market over to the team at Zoom. And then Zoom is really interesting that they you know, they are now going through all sorts of rises. The shapes of products, old technologies being reconfigured. That's actually what the world of design has always been about. I think Harry you probably would have said that there was things that you that you did when you were leading the frog team that were novel, but most of it would have been assembling parts that were already in existence and actually saying how can we make something out of the most commonly available parts, rather than just novel parts?

Harry West 05:58

Right. So I think that the most interesting opportunity we have ahead of us is, is to put aside all the existing parts. And to reframe what's important for us. You know, most of us, we, you started off using the example of a digital product. But that's kind of an example of how we build our lives, right? We, we build them by assembling the parts that are already there. You know, the expectations that people have the norms that people have, the lifestyles that other people around us have, and we pick and choose from those available paths and assemble aligns most of us in much the same way that you assemble a digital product. But suddenly, we're confronted with a situation in which those products don't work anymore. You know the way we were living our lives no longer works because the norm of going to office or meeting people in person, I can't do that anymore. So that's forcing us to, to actually consider how we want to build our lives. And we need to create new building blocks out of which to build our lives. And so I think that's a wonderful, potentially uplifting opportunity for us to consciously design how we want to live. And it's exhausting because suddenly we are having to think about things we never had to think about before. It's psychologically wrenching because most of us just go through our lives doing what we always did we never take the moment to actually consider what's important. And and you can you can feel the United States going through that right now, you know, politically in complete turmoil. But you can also see it in individual families and individuals trying to figure out what's important, you know, where do I want to live now? Is this job really important to me? Some students I'm working with, you know, framed it beautifully. For me, they said, you know, before, I never had to think consciously about the gradations in my friendships. They were all friends. But now I have to decide, is this person a close friend? Is this person an acquaintance? Or is this person a mid range friend, and I love that term, mid range friend, because I suddenly realized that, you know, most people I know, they're kind of mid range friends, and I never consciously thought about that. And in these new times, I've lost touch with my mid range friends. I do business meetings, and I stay in touch with my close friends, but that kind of richer social life I used to have is gone, unless I figured out how to consciously rebuild it. And so in you know, just a couple have examples like where do I live? Who do I talk with? I'm now having to think consciously about that, in a way I never had to before.

Mark Bergin 09:10

And I think most of you know that I'm an active competitive sailor. And so if I go think about the guys that I started on the boat with, they're those really close friends. And then the people who are on the other boats and who are on the deck of a Sailing Club after the race, are those mid range friends. And, you know, there's probably 300 people that I might have seen on any weekend and enjoyed just a social glance or as little as an accidental comment to them about the race that we're in. Oh, boy, that was a really good tackle. What the hell were you doing getting so close to me that there was all this social interaction, and that's just from the afternoon sailing, let alone what happens when you're in the office when you are actually in the cafe. You know, I remember back when I was working In the city, that there were people who I would see at the cafe who I'd seen for years, I didn't know their name, I acknowledge them, but they are some of those social connections that have gone. Melissa, you've gone through a process where you've gone and refactored some of your life. You've done probably one of the most courageous things that anybody can do, regardless of a pandemic, which is gone and you stepped out of one role. And you said, I'm going to actually get back to setting up my own design studio, I'll get out of from being embedded in an organization - Ellevest, and I'll go and do my own gig. But you've also changed where you live at the same time. So you know, in the psychologists, three legged stool, you know, where you work, who you love, and where you live, you've changed two of them. That's a pretty big dynamic that you've got there. How's the refactoring going?

Melissa Cullens 10:54

I'm getting very good at standing on one leg. We've been in Westchester since September. So that is not as recent. And I will say the adjustment to that, for me was harder I think than for my partner and for my family. I love New York, I grew up in the suburbs. And I really wanted to be in the city. I wanted to be in Brooklyn, I wanted to be with with the, you know, the Life on the Street. And, you know, who could have thought this is where we would be. And I'm so grateful for it now. And then, you know, when it comes to thinking about taking a big leap, and starting a business at a time when there's so much upheaval, to kind of come back to what Harry's saying, I felt like it feels counterintuitive, but I was working on like growing into listening to my gut. And it felt like the right time because there are so many people inventing, and they're inventing not just how to rearrange the pieces of our life, but what are the pieces that we actually want to use to build with, to begin with, and what are the things that we want to leave behind. And it's been really kind of interesting, you know. To talk to you to the idea of like mid range friends, I totally agree there's entire groups of people that I just don't see anymore. And I'm curious about what they're doing, and I missed them. But we don't have the kind of relationship that you get on the phone and you talk to them. And then there's this other section of people that might have been more peripheral, that have actually starting to come together because the virus is creating, you know, new reasons to be connected. And we are inherently creating new ways to be together. A bunch of my female friends from some big tech works, you know, we're all kind of going through the process of experiencing what life is like when you don't have access to consistent childcare. And when the career ladder looks a certain way, and to come back around to the idea of what's possible on that ladder, that life only works if all those other pieces are in play. And so when you take some of that stuff off, and you go off the track, what happens off the track? And what's possible to invent in that space that maybe is different than then how we have collectively defined success all together? And was that actually making us happy? You know, were we solving great problems? Were we working together with people that we that we really enjoyed collaborating with? Were we building great things, or were we just moving through the pieces that we thought we needed to move through to accomplish the next task, the next goal?

Mark Bergin 13:40

And I think, you know, I always believed that life is about thriving, and some people are very privileged that they had that opportunity all day long. But thriving to me is actually what the human drive is about, whether you're a parent, you want your kids to thrive, if you're actually being a top designer, you want your projects to thrive, if you're a CEO, you want the company to thrive. And thriving is such an important thing for us, not just surviving. And so you only need one of those elements in that stack to disappear, don't you? And you go, Wow, if the childcare disappears, I can't do that. I can't do the rest of it. You know, if the internet was to stop in your in your property, you can't go do this work, you know, we can't do this call. We used to think it was electricity and we solved that by having batteries in our in our notebooks and on our cell phones so that we were able to then say, Oh, well, if the power goes on, okay. We don't know how to solve childcare if that goes, because the childcare centers locked down. We don't know how to go and actually handle if food supply stops. And so it's really interesting, I've been observing that there's the pandemic has forced people into getting used to the idea that where there was a continuous Where they were on Maslow's hierarchy, and they might have had a range of maybe one or two levels, it's like they've walked across this glacier and this is Fisher that actually takes them down to some of the most basic of Maslow's needs. And it's just in one part of their overall makeup that they go down so deep. And we call it the Ronacoaster. And the Ronacoaster is something which, when you give it a name people are then comfortable to talk about it. I know on Monday, I had a thing where Monday but before 11 o'clock, I was on the top of the Ronacoaster, and suddenly between 11 and four, I went down, down, down down down and I'm going what the hell is this? And then by four o'clock, I was back up and I was going 'Whooo' at the top of the Ronacoaster. And again, as you were saying Harry, they're having to go and explore parts that they didn't consider before, which probably means there's some growth there. But that's also painful. Jon, you've been working on a new product. And, and the name of the product is...

Jon Winebrenner 16:05

WeeWash, W-e-e W-a-s-h

Mark Bergin 16:09

Okay, so we'll put a link to it there. But I want to reflect back because this is the fifth month that we're doing this in the US. But in the first month, you joined us. And you had probably the most honest moment that I'd seen for a long time, because it was the early stages of the pandemic, but you basically said things were crap. And what was interesting was, as the host all of a sudden, the messages of you know, can I join this conversation? Everybody wanted to say yeh, it's really crap. So you were in? I think we'd have to say, the Ronacoaster had taken you down at that point?

16:45

Yeah. Oh, I felt like I was about midway down and it still kept going for quite a while but yeah, I was saying it on the downslope.

Mark Bergin 16:53

Okay, so you've popped out of the Ronacoaster, so we're coming back up to the top, you're at the top of the hands are going up as he got the negative gravity going over the top of you. But tell us about the product and tell us where it's going to fit. Where this new possibility.

Jon Winebrenner 17:07

Oh man. So the product is a portable hand washing station designed specifically for children. And it was born out of walking my dog every day and I was talking to a friend of mine, six feet apart, about what opportunities are ahead of us and he brought up the idea that a) the pandemics not going away and b) classrooms don't have six of them. And schools are looking for opportunities for capital investments, as opposed to just renting hand wash stations. So that started that that's where it was born from. This guy he owns trailers, refrigeration and freezing trailers for foods and things like that. So he had a little bit of insight to this. And quite literally I was either I was knocking on doors, sending emails or sitting around feeling sorry for myself because COVID basically has kicked my company's legs out from under it. So while Melissa is good at standing on one leg, I'm kind of sitting on my butt in the corner right now. But for me the opportunity comes from just seeing- It's this thing that, you know, I've said, often as a designer, for me is observation. It comes from looking at the world around us, and just seeing what opportunities what niches are there. And I have no idle hands for me. He just created a product. And yeah, and so one of the things we were talking about earlier, before we got on was how offices are changing. And so one of the things that I found in the process of this product, and the development of it was not having that interaction with other minds like that could look at it and touch or sit around a table with a sketchbook process for me has been a lot slower than what I would have liked to be. Because you're sitting in the corner, you're second guessing yourself, you're going with the first options that pop into your mind, or whatever. But as far as from a design perspective, that's probably the one thing that I've taken away from all of this is what I miss as a designer. And the interaction is how those products come to reality. And those aha moments tend to be sparked by conversation and interaction and tangibility of things that's really gone from the process.

Mark Bergin 19:56

Yeah. And it's interesting that that idea that you've got people sitting around the table to help you out in and indeed you can bounce ideas off you know, I, I remember when we rebranded to driven by design I I spent six months trying to go sort that out writing manifestos of what what is actually trying to go and convey. And I was actually sitting at this desk, my system was out on the dining table in my house, and I walked out to her and I said, Lisa, all I want is I just want people to know that they can be driven by design, and she just smiled at me. She said, You've got it. And and it and it was the idea of having a proximity have her back. She's not a designer. She was helping me out with a bunch of things. But it was another person that was around me to go and help there. That gets amplified up when you've actually got people who appears and subject matter experts. Dan, I want to I want to throw across to you because you've been working in the collaborative for a while when he used to be one of the lead kids because he went on to work in an office. location. Now you've kind of become the the cool kids because you're actually working remotely. And you've got these teams that can sit around the table. How's that played on actually going from something that was actually abnormal now into the normal? Is it feeling a bit creepy that, you're normal?

Dan Formosa 21:17

It's been pretty interesting that it's been so...I think now that everyone has experienced it, I think it's, it's a little easier to envision how it can work. Though there are downsides and getting together once in a while is part of the plan with the collective. But you know, the whole purpose of the collective was to bring together people from anywhere, you know, create a network of people, most of whom are independent designers or engineers or researchers or whatever the background is psychologists etc. and put together a SWAT team when some sort of business opportunity or design opportunity comes up. Which means you can really get people from anywhere. But it also means that your collective, the people in your network don't show up at your office every day. They are off doing their own thing for, you know, however long they need to, and you pull them together and assemble the team as needed. So it really is a way to assemble an expert panel that is very specifically tailored to the project at hand. So that's been, you know, the basis. But now I think that people have been working remotely. I think a lot of people are saying, Oh, yeah, that that can work. You know, that can work. You don't necessarily need that real estate or you don't need to get together as often as you would expect.

Mark Bergin 22:49

And so what I want to do here is I want to get across to Ronnie in a moment, but I'm going to come back to you, Harry, and I'm going to talk about some of the heavy you actually embed culture in an organization because So Harry brought up in the pre conversations really interesting thing, which is, offices is where the culture and the community, the community side happens. So running it with knowing that we're getting to that Hyperloop transport technologies. You're you're in New York, there's people in California, there's people in Toulouse, there's probably a few other sides. How the hell do you actually work out, however, get beyond just being a face on a zoom call, and start to build some rapport? And in those mid range friends, how do you get people who are just disconnecting from the call and they've just been a nodding head? Is that been something that you've actually started to find solutions for that because you're distributed everywhere?

Ronnie Peters 23:42

We are, and we're about 900 people strong. And we're developing tools. One of which is it's an internal tool where all 900 people who contribute can see how they're performing against everyone else. In The team. So I'm putting my projects in there and I see who the other team members are. I put in the time that I'm working on projects in there as well. We're also using, you know, as we were talking about before, the tools and so far as how we come together, they just seem to be starting to gel and come and form the sort of natural way of forming groups, some communicating so using neural, using WhatsApp when we don't need to be on a zoom call, but then using zoom, using XD which can be collaborative. So we've got an number of like design tools and communication tools that all start to be fusing together and then we're building our own proprietary tools on top of that. And so it's working. And it worked prior to the pandemic, you know, because we're so distributed on so many continents, And then so many time zones, and we have that in place. And it's almost business as usual. Right. So we've been very lucky that we actually are working that way before the pandemic.

Mark Bergin 25:14

So, Harry, when you when you were the CEO at frog you had offices, help me out here, you had New York.

Harry West 25:21

So going from east to west or New York, Austin, San Francisco, Sydney, Shanghai, Munich, Milan, London. And then we just at the end, we brought in Malmo, Sweden, Paris and Madrid. So we had studios all around the world. Yes, 11. Very expensive! So we often we always questioning Well, why do we need these studios because most of the work is happening at the client side. So why do we have this Expensive infrastructure. And the answer we kept on coming back to was, it wasn't really for the work it was for the culture. Because the work you can do remotely and what you can do on the client side, but building a cohesive culture, creating a place that other people want to join, and where they feel affiliation and friendship and a bond. That's very, very difficult to do. We decided without a space, so we put money into having beautiful studios. We had spaces in the studio specific stuff to socialize and eat together and collaborate together. And it was a great recruiting tool. So we have the reason we could attract the best designers from around the world was they walked into the studio and they looked around they said, I want to work here. Yeah, that instant decision. And when we brought a client in they'd look at the studio studio and they'd look at the people in the studio, they would go, I want to work with these people. And so even though it's expensive, it paid for itself many times. And that's why design firms have in the past built studios. I think that was reasons to build culture, attract the right people, and to attract clients.

Mark Bergin 25:46

11!? And it's interesting that Dan, if I go think about the, the work that you do at the SBA, you know, the idea of bringing a student body into into a school they're going to look at the school and I say this is the school I want to study at this feels like it's in it's got the right field with you know, the masters of branding program has such an awesome space. If I go think for Rick and for Harry that, you know, the work that you're doing the university there, it's got these amazing buildings. Some of them are, you know, beautiful old outbuilding, some great fresh I mean, we want those places where we can commune and that we can bond and there's identity to them, don't we? So? So then, Melissa, I want to get back to you, because you're at this very early stage. You're-

Harry West 28:15

Let me just jump in there because we just ran a series of design challenges at at Columbia, and we had, you know, several hundred students participating. And we we asked them to create solutions to problems caused by COVID. And what was overwhelming for me was that so many students, so many student teams said the most important issue for them was how are they going to have social interaction when they are remote students? Yeah. And part of the reason they came to Columbia was, you know, it's got a great name and great professors. But for many of them, the main reason to come to Columbia was to meet with other Columbia students. And now, as your Freshman you're arriving at your zoom meeting? How do you get to know these people? This was a concern.

Mark Bergin 29:06

Yeah. And it's a really hard thing about how do you actually embed yourself? How do you get to know you know, I think if you one of the most important things when I was running the design studio was, how do we get into the customers office? How do we get into their factory? How do we, how do we get to have a tea break with the team members and talk about the kids or a cat or a dog or a sporting team? Because that's that layer of your front, you're meeting the person you're not meeting the role? Well, this I suppose for you, you know, this early stage you're up to, is that you're saying, Okay, well, I'm getting people to also probably at not much different size through the UI. But you still need to work out how to get into the world entry, because that's the thing about humans if we can understand the layers, we wind up doing something which is the pool sample set that we didn't consider all the consideration.

Melissa Cullens 30:06

That's a good point. You know, I think I am a huge fan of Krista Tippett's podcast, and I forget exactly who she was interviewing. But recently, she asked someone how they were on the podcast. And and the woman just kind of was like, Well, isn't that the question? You know, it's a bit of a rude question at you know, in this moment, because it's hard to answer in the way that we're used to answering it. And what I think is really wonderful about having had, you know, 15 years of practicing asking good questions, and practicing being a good listener, is that you can create connection with someone because we have this really intense and very personal shared experience to talk through. If you can come to the first moment of that call, as your whole self and if you're not afraid to bring your experience in Really like say, yeah, you know, last night it rained like crazy in Westchester and at 3am, my husband and I woke up because there was water dripping on our face, you know, like on top of everything else, right. So it's, um, it's been easier than I thought. And I think what's been really cool about it is that it's actually driven a level of intimacy from places I didn't, I didn't expect at the same time. You know, one of the one of the projects I've been working on recently was to facilitate some design sprints and doing that remotely with an existing culture in the existing company, who are you know, and the big places I'm finding are really struggling more than the small places with working remotely. I think that just like there's a lot of behavior that happens in between meetings and in the hallway that is now having to find a different channel or it's just not happening at all that seems to have everybody kind of feeling a bit like deer in headlights. And so they're all learning at the same time. And so you go in to do something with somebody who's not used to doing design is not used to thinking about like the human kind of problem and try and pull them through. And I'm finding I'm really having to find my my, like old ways of charming people into having a good time don't work as well, on a zoom call. And so it's harder, it's harder to kind of get everybody to laugh. And to loosen up. I mean, you have to kind of be really purposeful about it, you have to do like, we do the counting game sometimes. So you go around and everybody counts. And if, if two people count at the same time, you need to go back to the number one. So we could, we could play it here. We could see how good we are at taking turns. But yeah, you have two new techniques, I think.

Mark Bergin 32:47

So let's say let's say if we, viewers, we've just taken a little break, we've saved you, but I'm going to do the counting call with everyone... How does the counting game start?

Melissa Cullens 33:03

Oh, so we're going to count to seven. But the way we're going to do it is we're going to go one at a time, but there's no order. So I'll start someone else has to say number two, someone else has to say number three, but if two people say three at the same time, we have to go back to number one.

Mark Bergin 33:20

Okay, let's have an experiment here. Okay, start us off.

Melissa Cullens and Rick Bell 33:23

One- [laughter]

Mark Bergin 33:25

Okay, I was going to edit that out, but I'm gonna put that back in because that is the perfect. There you go. It's like, we can't even get past one. So I think we've summarized the mechanic. Okay. But so-

Rick Bell 33:51

can I interject with a numerological quotation from Henry David Thoreau, because I think we're all now looking at a return to nature in some way, or at least thinking about a different pace. And he certainly did that, you know, famously. And he said simplicity. He said it three times, simplicity, simplicity simplicity. I say let your affairs be as two or three, and not 100 or 1000 instead of a million count half a dozen and keep your accounts on your thumbnail. I don't know what the technology was back then. You had a thumbnail, he was way ahead of his time.

Mark Bergin 34:35

And so it's interesting. You know, simplicity is it's an you know, power is not about the shirt. Never simple is I've been talking for quite a while about I think that simple is the cancer of the design industry, because it's never simple. It's elegant. It's wonderful, but it's never simple. Because if you say simple, then the client turns around and says, Why am I spending all this money if it's so simple said that That's where that comes from. But I do agree, which is you want to actually make sure the things which are your Cardinal nodes in your life are actually fueled not many. Because that then you're not spreading yourself. But it's never simple. You know, even it's been interesting. I went to go actually gift a bunch of these t shirts to some of the other presenters, Damara, you're all getting the email. And so I went to gift them, but it's never simple. It's actually what size you know, for females. Is it for bumps or not for bumps? Yeah, that's a good consideration. I didn't know that you actually have the T shirts. There is bumps and non bump tshirts apparently. It's actually what size what color and then before I realized that even giving away a T shirt was-

Rick Bell 35:47

Mark I couldn't disagree more, it is simple.

Mark Bergin 35:50

It is simple? Oh, okay...

Rick Bell 35:52

The only reason for a complication is profit. You know, I think if you want to diversify your product, you overcomplicate it... look at classic coke and new coke. And, you know, you're talking about Coke and Pepsi before. You know, it is simple, you know, what do we need to do to make the world better? You know, and it couldn't be more simple and I think what the pandemic is doing as a disrupter is causing us to question our values as Harry and others have said, you know, and here we are, you know, put together you know, with technology, questioning, even technology.

Mark Bergin 36:34

That's one of the interesting things about if you've got something as a concept. I totally agree Rick. There is simplicity, which is your values and your motivation can be simple, but trying to get to simple is never simple, is it?

Rick Bell 36:49

It's the same brown crap that you're drinking, it doesn't matter whether it's Coke or Pepsi quote, unquote.

Mark Bergin 37:00

I think for a lot of people, it's a, it's more than the contents of the container [laughter]. It's actually the beginning. But again, you go, that's not even simple. Is it? So? So, you know, one of the things really interesting is that when we turn around and we take something out of one context, when we put it in another, it changes and then it loses so so I think when it comes to actually working out, what are the values that we're trying to get, you know, I'm, I'm gonna always stand by, we need to have some social equity, we need to have a sustainable environment. And we need to have a thriving economy like those three things are just givens. How you make that happen, is never simple. Like that's going to be a myriad of challenges. But if we can't work out, how do we include people, that everybody's humanity is equal, if we don't work out how to look out to the environment for future generations, and we don't work out how to have a thriving economy. We just we're not really playing the game. We're we're out of the major league and I think That's a really important thing for us to focus on. And, you know, I know what it's 75 days left until and in the US that you go to the elections. And some people will be hoping for result eight other people will be hoping for result the but regardless, I think the goal is how do you make sure that you've got social equity? How do you have a sustainable environment? How do you have a thriving economy, regardless of whether it's a blue or red result? And I think that's the universal thing. One of the things and I think it was interesting that you mentioned, Harry about the mid range friends, we've noticed in the awards that the mid range designers are absent this year. And I don't know if that's actually because of confidence. And I don't know whether it's because of monetary side, but the absence so we began a project which is a or a campaign, which we call elevate, elevate hope is the idea. And we first did it in Hong Kong. I think we all understand that Hong Kong has got some challenges that are in there. They've had a disruptive market when it comes to social unrest. They've also had changes that have happened because of COVID. And then they've also had some more social unrest that's happening. So how do we help elevate and shine a spotlight on the emerging talent that's in that market, we took a leaf out of Tom's TOMS Shoes book, which was, you know, you buy a pair of shoes, we will actually make sure that there's a pair of shoes that goes to some people in need. So I put together a panel of people as local jury members, I put together a curatorial process, and we're working out how to actually help people and give them a hand up with the awards. We're doing that in New York. So you'll see some of that there. But it's actually that mid range is so important, because if you just have the tops and you have the bottom, you're missing the main path. And that's, that's something which is actually really quite, quite important. So, you know, I think, looking at possible abilities, and then and those new possibilities and working out how to stitch together the mid range is how we actually feel in some of the gifts that are here because I think most of us actually hit it off and went made, their primary need was we just had to survive. And we had to work out what was important to us. So if you have any tips for me, Harry, what have you learned from the young people at Columbia that can help us out?

Harry West 40:23

Well, I can't lean on what I've learned from the students, but what I can do is, you know, lean on what I've learned as a designer for last 25 years and I'll go ask some of those design teams, why they have not submitted, you know. I would go back and do that basic research with them, it may it may be different reasons for every team, but there may be something consistent, you know, the big companies they're gonna survive this turmoil And the small guys, the small companies, the individuals one way or the other, they're going to do it. But it may be that something's going on those mid range organisations.

Mark Bergin 41:10

Yeah. I loved talking to somebody who, this was years ago, who was in organizational development, and they describe the Bermuda Triangle of a company is somewhere between 20 and 100 people. So 20 you can still have the game, it's okay. And above 100, you can afford to go have the layers, organization development, HR, you've got all of those systems and processes but between 20 and 100 is hell.

Harry West 41:43

Well, it may be that between 20 and 100 if you had a big enough studio or you have a space that you met, that it worked, maybe that the level at which you need to put in systems like HR etc has dropped. That's an interesting hypothesis.

Mark Bergin 42:03

Yeah. And, and so, you know, I, I'm always fascinated when I see design studios and you can see that they've punch through the 20. But they're quite away from getting to the hundred. And, and you know, there's friction going on in here that they may not understand, you know, they'll they'll understand it when they're doing an exit survey for a staff member who's leaving. And they find out it's because of this. And you know, I say when I was running the studio, I always found the exit surveys of an exit interviews, the most harrowing because if you only have told me before, but then it was there was momentum and there was culture, it would have taken us years to go get what you needed. I was just woefully sorry. I wasn't able to go feed people that thing they needed. But yeah, so you wind up with it takes us it's a lot of demand to go actually. Those calculators and that's actually I think what we're gonna find over the next 12 and 24 months is that there will be some people who have thrived to get that culture, right. And then they're going to have that factor that you had with frog people walk in the door. And I think that Dan would have had it at Smart when you were there. They will walk in the door and they say, this is a place I want to work. And that's what's going to happen as we stitch together the digital culture that we work out how to go and actually build the remote working as well as the teaming on site working that's going to be a very interesting status. Jon, just before we wind up I want to ask you what's the next stage for your wash station, how do we actually help you to handle the problem that you can't make enough?

Jon Winebrenner 43:45

Oh, man, it's just telling people about it. Really is what it comes down to the design that I've come up with I get it folds and folds down into a flat pack and I can literally ship it anywhere in the world. So your goal of making more than I can handle is where I'm at right now.

Mark Bergin 44:14

Do you have a sample that's in New York yet?

Jon Winebrenner 44:17

I don't like literally like, I finished the patent on this version of it that I think that's the final version of it just over a week ago. I've been working on websites, marketing information, videos, things like that. And just yesterday, I'm starting I started rolling it out. I have the website sitting in front of me, it still has lorem ipsum stuff on it, but I've it's kid handwashing, calm, people can go and look at it. And you'll see it in this good in progress format right now. Like, to me, that's just that's where the world is right now. We're running as fast as we can to do stuff like that. And I'm willing to accept the fact that you'll see things in progress are not quite finished right now.

Mark Bergin 45:00

Well, Jon, I can see through the chat here, we already have an offer that there can be one in New York if you need one there. The people go see So, so we'll sort that out in there. Rick's doing something, which is really interesting. He's had to go and actually get mobile. But he's also got his mask on now. And I'm not sure, are masks mandatory in Vancouver, Jon? Are masks mandatory in Vancouver?

Jon Winebrenner 45:26

Oh, oh, sorry! I was too busy looking at where he's taking us down there. They are not mandatory. But what I'm finding in Vancouver is for the most part, like nobody is complaining about them. People are pretty voluntarily using them, in particular in close places. So if you go to the grocery store or something like that, I would say we're well over 75 to 80% of people wearing masks. You still have the people that are forgetting them or who are just refusing to wear them? I think you're always going to have that, but I think we're past that threshold. But we're also we're also seeing a spike right now. So I think that's going to change soon.

Mark Bergin 46:11

Okay, so just give me a hands up, who's wearing masks when they leave the house in any in any way? Yeah. Cool. Okay. Rick, you don't need to put your hand up, we can see you've got one on. By the look, everybody. What's been really good here is that we've been able to actually have a conversation about what's possible, but where the potential is, where does culture fit? How do we actually make culture hairy the point that you brought up about those mid-range friends? That's a really interesting consideration, because then you start to think about, well, who are the people that I haven't spoken to be them colleagues, suppliers. I know the guy who makes my trophies for DRIVENxDESIGN. I just give him a call. Operationally, I don't have any reason to go talk to him, but I just give him a call to see how he's going and what's up because you go well actually, there's the moment of truth if the guy is putting the trophies together isn't doing his stuff. We're gonna let a whole bunch of people down when we try to go do the awards, and also he is actually a fascinating character. So thank you for helping me out with another town hall. I think we've covered some interesting territory and we are going to dig in, we're going to have the wash station up there, Melissa, we're going to make sure that we've gonna plug through for you. Ronnie Hyperloop doesn't need a plug, you're already doing the stuff there. But I'd be interested to go find out from all of you. If you've got any suggestions, so please email me. Again. I'm humbled to have your minds and attention. Thank you very much.


Hosted by: Mark Bergin

Podcast production: Pat Daly

Show notes: Lucy Grant

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