My intent with this newsletter was to keep it limited to 12 editions. These will now be archived on my website and the mailing list deleted. The internet/metaverse has given us many good things. But it’s very bad at endings and there is nothing sadder than seeing something limp on.
So the year closes exactly as it began, with another lockdown. Society hasn’t collapsed and economies haven’t been reset. Yet I believe there is a smudged outline, a collective mood, that things have to change. We, collectively as a species have to change. Strategic design is about how to chart a course through uncertainty and to find solutions to the knotty problems we face. A lot of the heavy lifting day-to-day is around mediation and the building of trust and empathy. Problem-solving can only really be meaningfully achieved when those elements are present.
My holiday season recommendation is to watch Peter Jackson’s documentary on the Beatles - Get Back. As an artefact on the creative process, it’s truly amazing to see songs starting off as improvised scraps and transformed into stone-cold classics.
Across the 3 episodes, you see unfolding, a group grappling to come up with something new. Ambiguity and uncertainty cast a shadow with no clear finish line and disagreements on what outcome is best. Is it an album? A live concert? Or a feature film? It turns out to be all three in the end.
They try everything to get themselves out of the rut they are in. They play their old numbers such as Help and Strawberry Fields. They play cover versions of their rock and roll heroes such as Carol Perkins, Chuck Berry, and Buddy Holly. They move from a vast and cold movie set to a more intimate and hastily built recording studio in a basement. Every little action seems to push them out of their comfort zone but gets the creative juices slowly moving.
A timely lesson that for even the best band in the world, the creative process was 99% perspiration.
December is the time of year to look back but also to plan forward. Making resolutions that stick, is as we all know, is incredibly hard. Over the years I’ve iterated on a handy set of rules that have helped me out.
Remember you can apply this technique to all aspects of your life, love, and health.
Prototype how you are going to answer the questions you generated. By prototyping, I mean experimenting with the potential pathways available to you. For example, to address my career goals for 2022, I set up an experiment to share my work more often. This then opens up further mini-experiments such as who do I want to share with? My colleagues, my peers? What channels do I feel would be best to reach these groups of people? Suddenly I have a chewy experiment to work on meaningfully.
Write it down. Whatever it is you land on as your goal, write it and stick it somewhere where you see it frequently. Maybe it’s a simple post-it note on a wall or sticking it into your calendar or productivity app to remind you. What works for me is that having written down it acts as a prompt… like writing a contract with myself in that I feel less inclined to break the contract and screw myself over.
Bake-in habits in support of the goals. I have a set of flashcards, courtesy of James Clear’s Atomic Habit, that I use to try and make the goals stick. These are simple prompts that I have hung up near my desk that I can refer to. Each card will contain a prompt such as making sure your environment is set up to help you keep to a habit e.g. a good one is to have books strategically placed to encourage reading.
2021 WAS the year of NFT or non-fungible tokens. Brian Eno believes that NFT are “just a way for artists to get a little piece of capitalism”
There is always a glut of end of year lists to gorge on and feel a bit meh about. BUT, there is a handful of good ones. Check out Tom Whitwell’s 52 Things I learned in 2021
Glynn Britton’s Interesting propositions I discovered in 2021
Hiut Denim’s - Do one thing well - Winter 2021
Thank you for all of your support over the past 12 months. I have felt humbled by the level of interest shown. Writing these 12 episodes has, to my mind, made me a better writer. An unexpected benefit of doing Hyper-Normalisation is that I’ve become a better front-end developer, with my CSS and HTML skills put to good use.
While Hyper-Normalisation will retire, it has provided a stepping stone for new adventures in 2022.