Day 73

Day 73

I'm excited to see a resurgence of the value of design in startups. Which is often a leading indicator and a pilot for the way the rest of the world goes.

— Tom Hulme

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We’ve been fans of Monocle magazine since its release in 2007. Published 10 times a year, Monocle provides intelligent content that covers international affairs, business, culture, and design. The company delivers a fresh perspective on the world through well-crafted journalism and design. Monocle has grown into a leading content provider with retail stores in London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and New York. The magazine chronicled the first five years in this beautifully filmed video.

We’ve recently tuned in to Monocle 24, a round-the-clock radio station, and its program, “The Entrepreneurs.” Monocle describes the show as “a weekly business briefing putting a spotlight on the people, the places, and the ideas driving innovation in the industry.” Although not always specific to design, the February 29th edition of “The Entrepreneurs” featured Warby Parker co-founders David Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal, and Tom Hulme, design director at IDEO‘s London office.

We featured Neil Blumenthal on Day 64, so we thought we’d share a bit of wisdom from Tom Hulme with you today. For those of you unfamiliar with design thinking giant IDEO, it is a global design and consultancy firm that takes a human-centered approach to innovation. Hulme’s interview summarizes the benefits of showing empathy towards users, the opportunities that piloting an idea provides, and why planning scares the hell out of him.

Hulme is asked whether design is misunderstood and historically viewed as superficial. He says, “As the world has gotten more complicated and things become tougher and tougher to solve, design can start to create new experiences. Whether it’s my electronic devices or the companies I work with, it’s incredibly tough to understand all of it, and design’s role is to turn that complexity into simplicity.” Turning complexity into simplicity is the same problem that many startups tackle. He says, “The approach that brings simplicity from the complexity is going to become more important. I’m excited to see a resurgence of the value of design in startups. Which is often a leading indicator and a pilot for the way the rest of the world goes.”

He also tells a great story about IDEO’s recently piloted Walgreens stores in Chicago. While prototyping is a great way to quickly test things, Hulme says “Instead of prototyping behind closed doors. We are actually piloting things now. A pilot is a real launch and we can throw things into the world.” The Walgreens pilot store was a success, and there are now 20 pilot stores in Chicago. Today, there are few barriers between an idea and the ability to test it on potential adopters.

Monocle asked about how design thinking can impact business models and strategies. Hulme replied, “Planning and strategy are less and less applicable. The idea that we can define or predict what is going to happen in a year is pretty much ridiculous. The whole term planning scares the hell out of me. I get more excited about the idea of learning, and I think design thinking can build learning into the system.”

At Kern and Burn, we’re learning every day. We don’t know what is going to happen next, but we’re so thankful that so many of you are passionate about the same things that we are passionate about.

Check out Monocle’s “The Entrepreneurs” to hear more from the brilliant minds leading innovative companies around the world.