Lessons from cats and dogs

We don’t mark stuff nearly enough.  Cats and dogs have the right idea.  They are continually marking and re-marking their territory – their place in the world.  We have a lot to learn.

Some of us may be obsessive about marking our physical patch – the stone cladding, the gnomes in the garden, the razor wire on the fence – that’s not the kind of marking I’m talking about.  In the rest of our lives, our attention is always moving onto the next thing – on the path opening up ahead of us – and we forget to mark the place where we are right now, to celebrate our arrival. (more…)

Last year’s model – a small step for sustainability

I just stumbled across a great blog. Last Year’s Model – saving the planet through sheer laziness. It’s here: lastyearsmodel.org (more…)

I hate goals!

Let’s be clear about this. I really mean it. I hate goals. I have tried – seriously tried hard – to develop my own personal set of goals, but after 6 months’ work they still had DRAFT written across them in large letters, and I wasn’t happy. (more…)

Innovation Alessi-style

I’m inundated by email newsletters from all and sundry. Mostly they lie around in my in-box until I snap and stow them away, or snap completely and unsubscribe. The big problem is that there are real gems tucked away within the mass of material. This morning I found one of these gems.

I had heard stories before about Alberto Alessi and his obsession with producing beautiful objects without compromise. McKinsey interviewed him, and have put together a great insight into his thinking and his design principles. Have a look at it here. (Click on “Launch Interactive” to view it.)

I was particularly struck by the formula he uses to assess a new product. He assesses the prototype – as he says, not the first rough prototype but from at least the third so that it is already in a reasonably polished state. His formula evaluates each product on a 5 point scale against four parameters. The central two have to do with the relationship between the individual and the product, and the social impact of the product. To this he adds an evaluation of function and of price. The parameters are shown in this piece. It shows fascinatingly how clear he is on what is Alessi.

In good time…

On Monday the lean-to construction on the back of my house was demolished. You can’t really grace it with the name conservatory, although that is presumably what it was originally supposed to be. It had become a glory-hole, swallowing large quantities of mostly rubbish. It had been due to come down for nearly 20 years, and as is often the way, what finally tipped the balance was a snap decision. Now, not only has the lean-to gone, but, hooray, so have 90% of its contents. I was standing in the sitting room as the roof came down. It was as if someone had drawn back a heavy curtain. Light flooded in. The room positively changed shape. The cat became confused – so many sunny spots to choose from.

Isn’t it amazing what we put up with? For years I have tolerated this monstrosity, and the way it cut light from the house. I’ve overlooked my own rubbish every day, and yet somehow managed not to see it. The dark side of the room attracted even more stuff, establishing itself as a general dumping ground. And every time I arrived at my house, I was met by my own junk, advancing down the garden towards me.

And yet what did it take to make me take action? The builder said “I hate to send a skip away half empty.” I pointed at the lean-to and said “Will that fit?”

And the moral of this story is what? I had all the permissions I needed to be able to take action – I was ready for change. I had the builders here already so my appetite for change was whetted. Or simply the wind was in the right direction

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