Future Problems

The future of our social fabric might depend on it.

Photo by why kei on Unsplash

When was the last time you talked to your Uber driver? Or when did you ever have a conversation with your Deliveroo rider for that matter? How is your Postmate doing with their life? Are they happy? How is their health? How is the family? What are their primary concerns? How do they view the latest headlines? What keeps them up at night?

Let’s flip this around. How often have you taken public transport recently? When was the last time you have taken a full lunch hour outside of the office, instead of a rushed to-go meal? And when was…

Photo by Aleksi Räisä on Unsplash

Future Money

Bitcoin maximalists and HODLers are rejoicing as Bitcoin skyrockets to new heights — yet it is unfit for the purpose it is supposed to serve.

Don’t worry — I won’t bore you with anti-crypto arguments. There are plenty of people arguing against Decentralised Ledger Technology (DLT) and in favor of centralized and regulated currencies. I am not one of those. I actually see a lot of value and potential benefit in how cryptocurrencies work and see a future in which we can replace our current financial backbone with DLT, owned by the people.

Yet, there is one fundamental problem that Bitcoin specifically (and other cryptocurrencies very similar to it) have, which makes them utterly useless as a said future currency. And the interesting thing is…

When talking about consumer and producer responsibility, there are apparent differences in device categories. OEMs take note.

One of the more shocking moments regarding technology ethics for me was at a design conference in 2019. A leading figure in technology was on the stage, who worked on smartphones for quite a bit of their career. Their presentation was about accelerating complicated, fundamental technologies to improve life for all. A plea to invest more resources in attention to tackle hard problems, rather than build the next social app.

During Q&A, the question came up: “Knowing what we know today, what are your thoughts on the impact of technologies like smartphones on individuals and society? What is the responsibility…

Photo by Shai Pal on Unsplash

Enterprises going at innovation alone are getting stuck. The key lies in cross-industry co-creation between equals.

While trillions of dollars globally continue to pour into innovation and R&D, it is rare to see large, established enterprise companies fundamentally transform. By that, I mean moving away from the industry in which they flourished and helping to create a future industry that is emerging. They often successfully innovate within their industry yet never escape it. Why does that matter? Because sectors rise and fall, and will take the companies that thrived within them down with them on the contraction.

Think about the automotive industry. Who has pushed the envelope on moving from car ownership to mobility-on-demand? Uber, Lyft…

Photo by Héctor J. Rivas on Unsplash

Better Ventures

While desirability, feasibility, and viability are great, they are not enough to make a successful corporate venture. Suitability is key.

Corporate venture building is steady on the rise. More than 1 in 5 Fortune500 companies now have their own corporate venture builder, and more are coming. It is the next-hottest thing after the innovation lab, and with an angle that seems more promising as well. Instead of building innovation for the corporate outside and bringing it in, venture builders are looking to create new standalone companies leveraging corporate assets. This promises to catapult incumbents into the startup future.

Many venture labs are well equipped with talent and resources, focusing on the early exploration capabilities that startups need. This typically includes…

Every 21st-century design process will need to include ethical lenses on the work. How can we best incorporate it?

The societal impact of technology cannot be overstated and has again come into the public focus through disastrous events. Social media, specifically, foremost Facebook and Twitter, have been the focus of scrutiny for the last years. Beyond the tech circles, where their algorithmic injustice has been debated for a decade or more, these discussions are mainstream. With documentaries like “the social dilemma”, the talking points are very much on everyone’s mind.

While fighting existing problems is essential, we also need to grapple with the questions around avoiding them in the future. At least avoid the massive scale and negative impact…

Photo by Othmar Ortner on Unsplash

Happy New Year

There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.

A year ago, we started a new decade. And no quote can better sum up the start of this decade than this:

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

The year 2020 was, besides many other things, an accelerant in many areas. The last year was also filled with lessons and reminders:

I — We are all connected.

What affects one of us affects all of us. National boundaries do not divide us. Neither does religion, wealth, politics, race, gender, or anything else. Despite all the lines we draw, there are no boundaries powerful enough to keep our fates apart…

Better Storytelling

Clarify your message so customers will listen

by Sebastian Mueller and Marc Seefelder

Illustration by Daria Guzieva

Last year we stumbled over Donald Miller’s book “Building a Story Brand” and it was eye-opening. Donald Miller is a screenwriter, and in his book, he takes a lot of inspiration from Campbells Hero’s journey — but he gives everything a different spin. His angle is: How can we make use of Storytelling for our business? What is so compelling about this book is that Miller gives us a clear plan on how to apply this story structure to brands to clarify their message so people will listen — like in design, crafting a…

Better Design

The four types of people that can kill your project and how to win them over.

In large corporations, great ideas and projects are often killed before ever seeing the light of day. We sure had our fair share of such failures, and I know first-hand that they are a very regular occurrence. As designers and innovators, we have to face the fact that our work is often not evaluated based on its strength and merit, but based on someone else’s preconceived notions. “Corporate Politics” is the name of the game.

A stereotypical corporate board room, black-and-white.
A stereotypical corporate board room, black-and-white.
Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

I previously wrote about the importance of empathizing with stakeholders to win them over. As designers, we cannot reserve our empathy purely for the customer…

Photo by davide ragusa on Unsplash

Future Problems

When thousands of people globally contribute millions of lines of code, who bears responsibility for the outcome?

Latest since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook can’t seem to get out of the headlights (and headlines for that matter). In the recent hit documentary “The Social Dilemma”, which Netflix recently released, another big target is drawn on Facebook’s back. That barely seems to have an impact on users and employees, however. Facebook usage is at an all-time high, continuing to rise at pre-PR-crisis numbers.

All those #DeleteFacebook posts have proved to be the virtue signalling everyone expected, with little action and no bite.

Facebook employees seem unfazed by what is playing out in the global headlines. And speaking to…

Sebastian Mueller

Co-Founder @minglabs · Host of “Lost In Transformation” Podcast · Gastarbeiter in Singapore · Transformer · Lifelong Student

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