Photo by Murat Bengisu (Unsplash)

Inclusivity can fix inequality and several other monstrous problems that won’t go away. It can also lead companies to brilliant outcomes.

For my generation, the 21st century was a promise of better, more harmonious times. Humankind would finally have the science and technology to produce miracles and find peace. Yet in the past two decades, we managed to contradict science, misuse technology, and get as far from harmony and social justice as one hoped.

It’s now 2020, and we are amid a worldwide pandemic, a global economic downturn, and a retreat in democracy. …

Photo: Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash

(Third in a series)

Profound crises are impacting social structures, commerce, institutions, and the environment. It’s hard to see an end to this, but the ultimate impact is on people’s attitudes and behaviors.

We have to assume the effect will be massively profound and that traditional approaches (developed in response to previous social, technological, and economic disruptions) need a tune-up as we start this new era.

In earlier posts, I commented on the role design will play in making business models inclusive, to start cultures. …

Photo: Augustine Wong

(Second in a series)

Amid disruption, values change, and so do people’s expectations. There seems to be a consensus that this crisis will accelerate profound transformations across every aspect of life. Yes, it’s a platitude that could mean anything.

Luckily, there are also visions of ‘new futures’ in place today, by a crop of businesses that were already working to upend categories and provide relevant insights. They are starting cultures of inclusion to promote, enable, and accelerate transformations. Purposes become movements, and products and services become new categories. …

We already see signs of a new reality forming: online vs. physical retail, wfh vs. office, hospitality vs. delivery, and on and on and on… Most of us expect to have to make substantial changes, but taking action early in this crisis can be paralyzingly hard.

We are amid a far-reaching transformation that will take time to arrive ‘someplace’ — if it ever does. What is certain is that most of the conditions that supported the preceding ‘order’ no longer apply in the short and mid-terms. …

Why do we value some objects more than others?

Burning House is a photo project that asks people to share images of the objects they would save from their burning homes. It isn’t new or trending. I only stumbled upon it recently while looking for an answer to a question that has been bugging me: why do we get attached to some objects and not others?

Looking back, it all probably started after one too many experiences with fast retail (the immediate let-down we feel after we open the 2-day shipping box.)

So, really, why do we value some objects…

Using service, product and communications to create and maintain customer relationships.


It was no surprise to observe that innovation is focused primarily on the customer. Traditionally, designers use research and behavioral observations to define customer needs and ideate, prototype and develop solutions. But this focus on the customer, through the lens of the offering, provides limited input as it leaves out opportunities created by the connections between the customer and the community (peer customers, friends, family, the society at large).

Instead, the design of relationships must consider three players: the enterprise, the customer and the community, and the separate…

Some businesses are winning by syncing their culture, operations and offerings with their customer and communities’ goals.


What’s going on?

Iconic, global brands are getting record setting shares for the worst reasons. Pepsi produced and aired a commercial that managed to offend the sensibilities of its most prized target audience, the youth segment. United Airlines managed to get embroiled in an outrage of human rights proportions after turning a passenger over to the authorities and allowing the use of force in one of their aircraft. …

Not everything we do is marketing, but everything we touch is media.

(August, 2018)

My second lecture this semester was meant to open students’ eyes to the new challenges facing designers in a cross-platform world. My line was meant to intrigue, and help them think of themselves as agents for change in everything a business impacts. I followed with a more explicit definition:

Today’s challenge is creating, targeting and providing products, services, content and experiences across an ever growing mix of channels and media, looking to design and sustain inclusive relationships with a massive number of people.

A word-by-word dissection…

What is the creative to do when giving shape and voice to the herb?


Cannabis is officially a movement. Celebrities, lawmakers, investors and healers are vocally, visibly promoting a new era in which cannabis’ many virtues help fix society and righten political wrongs. The business and public sector look at it as a means to generate giant returns and revenue. Full regulation is helping drive investment. To be fair, there are critics, including scientists and doctors. But the momentum keeps building with no end in near sight.

We started working in the category three years ago and have seen…

Design identity in the 21st Century


More and more brands need to create and own a singular language that stretches far into content, form and experience. However, the traditional approach to creating an identity is shaped by legacy notions of image and identity. Brands still need names and iconography, but the focus on ensuring application consistency needs to be replaced with a drive to integrate visual, form, content and experience into an expansive universe of touchpoints.

Diego Kolsky

Design Executive, Startup Mentor, Professor

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