Better by Design summit – Day 2

March 29, 2012 § 1 Comment

Day 2 of the summit ended with emotional commentary that NZ needs to maximise its potential on the world stage by being proud and loud of its heritage and environmental positioning. For me the highlight was Patagonia CEO Casey Sheahan providing a compelling statement of how conscious companies can lead the commercial marketplace by capturing consumers hearts.

Unfortunately I missed the Peter Senge and Dev Patnaik presentations, so can’t provide any comments on that, but here is an overview of the highlights for me.

Purposeful leadership

More and more leaders of innovative companies highlight the need for a human purpose to guide them. Yesterday, David Lawee highlighted how Google is guided by such clarity, and it was a recurring theme of day 2. But it’s not about the words of your purpose and values document, it’s what you do afterwards in the actions that counts. Cassy showed a Patagonia video that included a segment from the late Ray Anderson reminding us that consumers are our conscience and that you need to be able to engage in a two way conversation that is genuine to gain loyalty.

Cassy also highlighted the braveness and tenacity required of leadership, commenting that if you want something in business, “shout about it, plan it, prototype it and you will get it”. Leaders need to be so confident of their cause that they boldly proclaim it.

This was supported by a comment by Keith Yamashita that it takes tenacity, hard work, the ability to break a vision down into small steps and then get people to do things.


The other theme that emerged strongly for me was the reminder us of the importance of story telling to make things real. Outstanding brand guru, Brian Richards reminded us that all businesses need a story, and that we have a great NZ story that can divide international markets to our advantage. Design Thinking is an emotional art, and storytelling is a key principle of that.

I am not sure who said it, but someone on stage reminded us that it is important that we are not in the business of selling products, but providing solutions for customers. Its easier to tell a story of providing solutions rather than fixing problems.

Change is a journey

The summit was framed as designing your future. We heard from some of the world’s leaders on what is driving change in business. A number of NZ companies shared their stories of implementing change, the challenges of it and how change can provide hope. Peter Senge made a critical observation of the NZ case studies, highlighting the need for people to get started on the journey of change, take small steps and be brave, while Keith Yamashita reminded people of the opportunity cost of doing nothing.

A great 2 days, well done again Better by Design and NZTE.


§ One Response to Better by Design summit – Day 2

  • Grant Frear says:

    You missed something special in Dev’s talk. Great insight on empathy. The take away for me was to stay away from abstractions and keep it real.

    “Be the CEO that vacuums the plane” – a reference to how grounded the CEO of JetBlue is and as a result how empathetic he is to his customers and their needs.

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