More pearls of wisdom from Marty Neumeier

Whilst travelling in and out of London yesterday, I started (and indeed finished) reading the latest offering in Marty Neumeier’s series of “whiteboard overviews” – The Designful Company.

As anyone who’s read The Brand Gap or Zag will know, that’s the real beauty of Marty’s books. In terms of insight gained per minute spent, you just can’t beat them. (If you’re remotely interested in brand, and you haven’t read them, then shame on you – they should be compulsory additions to your library.)

As ever, The Designful Company is full of really great insights but, naturally, what particularly drew my attention was the stuff on sustainability – highlighted by Marty as one of the “wicked problems” facing business and society in the 21st century that can only be worked through by abductive reasoning and the intuition, imagination and idealism of design thinking.

A while back, I suggested a killer question to get to the heart of what sustainability means to a given organisation – why will you still be in business in 50 years’ time?

Thanks to Marty, I now have an additional thought experiment to get businesses people thinking, and it goes like this:

“Imagine a future in which all companies were compelled to take back every product they made. How would that change their behaviour?”

A simple but incredibly profound question. And, if you view Ray Anderson’s TED talk and clock the critical role of reverse logistics in the Interface business model, you’ll get a pretty decent clue as to the answer.

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