Go Play

The ancient Chinese game of Go is notoriously complex. However, at its heart, it represents the essence of all games: the need to find creative solutions within a defined framework. As companies look to introduce innovative solutions, the need to bring together efficiency and creativity often creates a latent tension between individuals and their project…

Thinking Design Thinking, One More Time

This is an updated version of an article 
I wrote in 2007 while waiting for a flight. I think it is time to revisit and update 
this article, as “design thinking” is in a very different state today than it was
 10 years ago, with organizations practicing it to different degrees of maturity. Before my…

Rebranding Purpose

Having lived on the West Coast for several years now, I’ve gotten used to being asked things like “What is your calling?” at dinner parties. These questions used to always take me aback; I would awkwardly stand and swirl my wine around in circles trying to come up with something bohemian, yet coherent, to say.…

The Business Case for Purpose

In business, “purpose” is the new black. 
It has become very fashionable for consultants and business professors to encourage companies to ask “why” they are in business. What is their raison d’être, beyond just making money? Or is that all there is? After almost 40 years of neoliberal economics, the prevailing and very entrenched answer…

Something to Believe In

Purpose is the Driving Force Successful Brands Need Successful businesses are built on the efforts and choices of two types of volunteers, both of which play very different roles in the ecosystem that nourishes
 an organization. These two types are more commonly known as “employees” and “customers”; however, categorizing them this way does not capture…

The New 40

Supporting the Sandwich Generation of 2020 I remember my father’s 40th birthday well. My parents had just finished renovating our suburban house, and they decided to have a party to celebrate and use the new space. It was 1990 and I was ten years old. I spent the evening trying to keep up with my…

When Everything is Meaningless

Why Your Company Needs a Purpose Business is about making profit and creating shareholder value. Though there is nothing wrong with this statement, it does not cause conflict when companies put some profit toward charitable causes and social impact. But today, capitalism is having a mid-life crisis. Where do we go from here? Forbes proclaims…

The Challenge of Applying Science to Purpose

The concept of purpose is abstract, and it could very well be perceived as being at odds with science and its relentless pursuit of causal relationships. Indeed, in biology and genetics (my original field of study), purpose usually refers to some feature 
that has evolved under evolutionary pressure. The purpose of opposable thumbs is to…

If You Build It, They Will Care

Designing Empathetic Spaces and Objects 
for the Future of Caregiving “There is no doubt whatever about the influence of architecture and structure upon human character and action. We make our buildings, and afterwards they make us. They regulate the course of our lives.” —Winston Churchill, addressing the English Architectural Association, 1924 “It doesn’t
 make you…

The Gig Economy: Finding Purpose in Precarity

In 2016, Gizmodo published an article highlighting the disconnect between gig-economy heavyweight Lyft and its employees. The article noted how Lyft had shared what 
it thought was a cute story about one of its drivers – the company praised a pregnant employee for continuing to work even as she went into labor. Bryan Menegus, the…

Inclusive Design: An Interview with Dr. Dori Tunstall

Dr. Dori Tunstall, Dean of the Faculty of Design at OCAD University and the first black dean of a faculty of design anywhere, is not your typical design leader.
 Dr. Tunstall, who comes to her current work with a PhD in anthropology, has a history of founding and participating in initiatives that strive to decolonize…

Back to the Future

Will the next game changer be something we already know — and love? Industrial machines. Flight. The internet. These were all big, impactful game changers with a lot of moving parts and a complexity that only the most expert of us could
 fully understand. But what if the next game changer isn’t nearly as complex?…

Purpose-Driven Companies

Overview Companies are using their influence to lead culturally relevant conversations that align with their brand’s core values, but are not directly related to their industry. Sustainable and ethical supply chains are no longer negotiable; instead, they are expected by consumers. This is prevalent in the fashion industry, where consumers are demanding a higher standard…

Regenerative Purpose

Companies exist not to provide solutions to consumers, but to facilitate the human experience. The decreasing life expectancy for corporations – which has dropped from a 20-year average in 1990 to a forecasted 14 years by 2026 – is indicative of the radical changes occurring throughout the world. S&P 500 also forecasts that 50% of…