Why Should We Exist?

Aug 1, 2016 · 3 min read
Our new office space being prepared for occupancy in a few weeks. Keeping it real and simple.

“Would the world miss ‘it’ if it didn’t exist?”

This was the answer that Paola Antonelli, the Senior Curator of Design and Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art, gave me a few years ago when I asked her how she would define ‘it’: Good Design.

When we were designing the conceptual foundation of our company, we knew from the get-go that the three pillars of the company would be Design, Data and Technology. We were convinced that these three disciplines would be critical to the world around us for many years to come. And they would be what we would focus on as we sought problems to tackle and solve.

But we wanted our company to be more than that: a company that the world would miss if we didn’t exist.

Since the official launch in February of 2016, we’ve grown out of the co-working space we initially occupied to get I&CO ready and off the ground.

As we are preparing to move to a new office space in Brooklyn as well as looking for more people to board the starship, I thought it’s worthwhile sharing these now: our Mission Statement and Maxims.

Our Mission Statement serves as the North Star for our journey, the universal purpose of our existence as a company — why we should exist. We don’t intend to change it anytime soon.

Our Maxims represent the values and virtues for individual crew members of the starship. They are the filters for our behavior — in essence, how we should behave.

Inspire and invent ways to bring emotion, connection and simplicity to the world.

1. When in doubt, subtract.

“Make it simple” is easy to say but hard to do. So how do we make things simple?

The temptation to add more creeps up when we aren’t sure. Adding more will lead to more complexity.

Resist that temptation. Have courage and conviction to subtract in order to relentlessly pursue the beauty of simplicity.

2. Never say “No” without offering “Yes.”

When trying difficult things, saying “No” is the path of least resistance. It’s easier, smoother and possibly more convenient.

But that creates a dead end. It won’t lead to new things. If we think it can’t be done, find a way to say “Yes” and do it.

3. Be tough, not rough.

Betterment requires honesty. Honesty requires toughness. There is a subtle but distinct line between tough and rough.

Being tough means having a high standard, keeping ourselves to it and being honest with each other. It means being determined to make our work better, make each other better.

4. Risk nothing, change nothing.

Taking a risk often makes us uncomfortable. It’s natural to go the other way. But comfort leads to complacency, complacency leads to stagnation, which is the exact opposite of change.

The only other option to taking a risk is not taking any. And without taking one at all, there is no progress. That is precisely the biggest risk of all.

5. Seek the invisible.

Truths and insights are often underneath the surface. They are unclear to the mind and invisible to the eye at first, hidden between lines and numbers.

Pursue the unseen in order to uncover something that wasn’t obvious before, to make something that should have already existed — for the first time.

6. Quality is a habit.

Apparently, it only takes 21 days for something to become a habit. Put another way, it only takes 21 days for Compromise to become a habit.

Do we want Quality or Compromise to be our habit? There is only one choice.

7. Magic > Logic

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If you might be interested in taking a journey with us on the starship, get in touch with us.

I & CO

A collection of articles by the I & CO crew on the future of business