by Alan Moore on 21st November 2017
The time has come for a sea change in how we think about business, the role of business in our world its impact on our society. We need to reframe business in the context of beauty.
Why beauty? Beauty isn’t about pretty dresses and sunset vistas: it’s about taking common objects and experiences, and turning them into works of uncommon grace. People are drawn, naturally, to return to them again and again. And if people return to things again and again, it is because they love what it is you do. The search for beauty challenges you to see more deeply. By focusing on beauty you are not being soft or touchy-feely; on the contrary, you are demanding rigour and discipline. As philosopher poet Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, “Beauty gets us out of surfaces and into the foundation of things” It’s not an escape from reality, but an intimate embrace of it. Foundational Beauty offers resilience and profitability.
Why craft? Craft is the holy trinity of the heart, hand and mind. The craftsman / woman asks ‘does this work serve a greater good?’ An important question that addresses not what we make, but what type of world we wish to create. Craft is a daily practice, of learning, trying, sharing, making. Craft based work is optimistic in believing that by caring about what we make life can be better. Craft is as much about our connection to each other, to the materials used as it is to the act, the surrender to making, taking common objects and turning them into works of uncommon grace. Craft is culture as much as making.
Lets consider two key components of crafting beauty — Sensuality and Design. And why they are key to any business today.
Sensuality: The world is sensual and textured. We intuitively seek the tactile. Well designed objects and experiences speak directly to us through our senses. A beautiful business works through the senses too — Designing the culture of a business, its environment, can have deep and long lasting beneficial effects on staff wellbeing and productivity. If we embrace the evidence of our senses, we become more powerful, not less.
Design: Good design has always been good business. Some of the most highly valued businesses today were founded by designers. Designers ask a simple question — is it useful and is it beautiful? This is how they can reshape the world we live in.
Design as ‘experience’, for example, understands that designing and creating for our tactile selves — things that are intuitive, easy and joyful to use — will sell more products and services at a higher value. In a Temkin survey 6x more people were likely to buy with a positive emotional experience, 12x more likely to recommend the company, and 5x more likely to forgive a mistake.
If we then consider design as a practice. Some of the most highly-valued businesses today were founded by designers. A designer asks a simple question — is it useful and how can I make it beautiful? At a profound level a designer can answer needs people have and in so doing reshape the world we live in, a design-led approach uses everything to create the optimum outcome.
The road to Beauty is hard won — so what might businesses be Doing to create a beautiful business? Here are a few thoughts.
Businesses need to create Beautiful Purpose. No amount of incentives or motivational talks can match the power of people feeling they’re involved in something a little bit special. And that they actually have a part in making it happen. We embrace what we create.
Businesses who make Beautiful Cultures become very attractive, because they are, ‘authentic’. People — employees or your customers want to belong, to go the extra mile, enthuse, endure, support, invest. And Beautiful cultures become Beautiful as Community.
Businesses practicing Beautiful Leadership know how to bring great potency to their organisation by empowering their people. Equally Leadership in thought and deed can energise all that are invested spiritually, emotionally and financially in that business.
Businesses that create Beautiful Utility will reap the rewards of that commitment to take a common object and turn turn it into a work of uncommon grace. This translates into the Beauty of experience in touch, smell, sound. People that design for beautiful utility, creating wonderful, optimistic life enhancing experiences in big and small ways sell out.
Businesses which are Beautifully Restorative are elegant high performance businesses. This can be a cradle to cradle business that reduces inputs, recycles everything and creates higher revenues and profits as a consequence. It could be the product, or the service, it could be the experience that somehow uplifts us, gives us joy, salves our soul a little or helps us in physical and practical ways. And it could be combinations of all of these. Organic, digital, experiential — from the Craftsman potter to the visionary CEO. The same principle applies it always gives back more than it takes.
Everything we make in this world follows the same process. We must think it, imagine it, dream it, then we make it. Everything is designed. And if everything is designed then we have the opportunity to make it beautiful, restorative, engaging, valuable and meaningful. We all need something to believe in so why not make it with beauty and grace.
A CEO asked me the other day if design and beauty could help a company change what it does, and how it makes money? In turn, I asked him — do you truly want to do it any other way? Sure there are other ways of doing things but none are so enduringly satisfying. And with all that love, care and attention to making things making money is never far behind.
. . .
Beautiful Business helps people, teams and corporations deliver authentic, profitable restorative businesses through our Beautiful Leaders & Makers Programmes, and mentoring. For more information on how we can help you firstname.lastname@example.org