How to thrive in the next economy

For the third time STBY will be organising the Strategic Creativity Book Club. This is the idea: read a book and join us in the Spring House library to enjoy the ongoing discussion on the strategic role of designers in creating change in society and the economy. We’ve done this twice since we’re housed in Spring House and we enjoyed it a lot, so we are organising another one – and you are most welcome to join us on April 11th! 

For this session we are featuring the book ‘How to thrive in the next economy’ by John Thackara. The book reads like a collage of examples of how communities around the world not only think and talk about change, but also act to design a more sustainable future. It is about using the small to change the big in a meaningful way. The book makes you pessimistic about the state we are currently in, but optimistic about all the small examples that have the potential to grow into something new. Without revealing too much yet, I would like to give a little preview by sharing two of my observations when reading the book.

(Service) Design these days is all about putting people at the heart of the design process. We have come a long way from technology and marketing centered to user centered design and today we feel we have a process in place to develop products and services that are meaningful to people. But while we are happily improving the lives of our ‘end users’ we often fail to consider the impact on people on the other side of the world, and the planet in general. From the book I learned that if we really want to have a positive impact, and ‘leave this place better than we found it’, we need to shift from human centered design to ‘all of life centered’ design. And then I am wondering, what new skills or knowledge are needed for taking ‘all of life’ into account in design? What does that mean for the ‘design coalitons’ we form in projects? What would it mean if we were considering all of life in the projects we do at Spring House? 

Another observation is that most of the game changing examples are not design related. In many of the cases, design principles are part of the approach but probably the entrepreneurs in the case would never call themselves a designer. That makes the reader think, what value can designers add in driving the transition towards a new system? What can we learn about creating impact from these non-design examples? 

The book is short, and easy to read, and full of interesting examples. So don’t hesitate and start reading. And if you’d like to join us on April 11th please sign up via Eventbrite. We look forward to hearing what you would like to bring to the table for the discussion.