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the do’s and don’ts of changing the world

30 June 2021

the do’s and don’ts of changing the world

The uncertainty provoked by Covid-19 has increased the urgency of change in an already complex world. We believe the world needs to change and we cannot watch idly while opportunities pass us by. At Next Agents we defend the development of beyond-growth capabilities, delivering value that is relevant to humans and the planet, today and in the future.

After one year of operation, we have learned a lot about the “do’s” and “dont’s” of starting a new venture that wants to change the world. That is why 3 of our agents have gathered first-hand testimonials to help you dive in safer into your change project.

 

Insights from Bettina

Don’t stop at good enough. Make it count.

The pursuits of design endeavours have historically been in service of business and economic growth. They were professional problem solvers – a muscle for hire. As challenges are growing at the brink of ecological devastation, it more than ever matters where we stand. So how many times have we heard in meetings “maybe this is good enough” – and wished we had stood up with a wholehearted “f*** no” and the words of J. Everett “This shit lasts so make it good and make it mean something.”

Do Make it matter.

In the attempt “to make it mean something,” we find ourselves connecting to brilliant thinkers that are our clients, customers and collaborators, reminding us of the role of innovators. We are not the “cool” crowd in the back of the bus – we are the ones preparing the road ahead of it. We not only drive change – we create it. So roll up your sleeves, lean into your passion, get your hands dirty and get shit done. But make sure it’s the right shit. This bus is not waiting for anybody.

 

Insights from Justyna:

Don’t encourage your FOMO (fear of missing out)

2020 encouraged many organisations to “jump into the unknown” and transform rapidly. This brought the fear of uncertain futures and much more daily tension. Opening a new consultancy with a disruptive model divided between Poland and Sweden in such a context was a bold move. Being able to reduce the “alert mode” and worries about the uncertainty was a key mindset that allowed us to develop a new approach to sustainable design consultancy.

Do Relax your perfectionism

After one year of our purely online collaboration, I have noticed that less and less perfectionism was demanded. This could be seen not only in the more casual attire and ‘covid hairstyles’ but also in the work outcome format. I have seen more understanding and celebration of the “raw” concepts, rather than a final delivery for the board meeting room presentation. Remote work encouraged organisations to faster approve raw concepts and quickly test them before making them final. It has encouraged a shift from ‘high-fidelity’ thinking to a ‘trial-and-error" culture. 

 

Insights from Fernanda

Don’t be shy of your core values.

Looking back (and leaning into the future) I think we at Next Agents should have been even bolder with our sustainability proposition. The last year has been one of the most uncertain in our lives. The only thing we knew then and know now is that climate change is the challenge of our lifetime, and it is the most important challenge that we have to win.

Do mix in different perspectives.

“Yes, and…” is an improvisation exercise based on finishing up each other’s sentences. It’s a fun exercise that is used to prove the value of interdisciplinary collaboration. It works well and makes a good point, but another thing completely is to see it implemented in “real” life! It is surprisingly powerful to see the value of bringing in diverse people during our work with clients in a business context! Instead of creating ‘focus group’ sessions that share similar view points, try to build ‘unfocused groups’ by bringing in the process people from different worlds.

 

Lessons learned

Today organisations crave to see answers and future-proof solutions for the “new normal” world. We believe that this is the right time to change some old business habits (don’ts) and implement a more adequate mindset (do’s). Reflecting on our work, our core values, pains and gains we encountered is a continuous healthy practice to stay relevant. Why don’t you give it a try?

As the bottom line for us remains to rely on a solid vision to give direction, stay courageous to push for your beliefs for momentum and challenge yourself even in times of uncertainty to enter new spaces of opportunity. In a world where our customer turns to conscious consumption and makes better choices, we should be with them all the way.

Fernanda Torre

Fernanda Torre

has a 15 years’ experience in working with innovation. She teaches future thinking and design at the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship. She lectures as a visiting teacher at the Stockholm School of Economics in the MBA program.Fernanda is a board member at the innovation professionals’ association Innovationsledarna and acts as a Swedish innovation management expert in the ISO techn...

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Bettina Schwalm

Bettina Schwalm

An experience designer, a strategist and a researcher with a long track record of driving value. She teaches innovation and future thinking and is known for her strong focus on behavioural studies.She is a Course Director for Future Thinking at the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship and is affiliated to Konstfack (University of Arts, Crafts, and Design). Bettina teaches as a guest lecturer in va...

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Justyna Turek

Justyna Turek

Design researcher, process facilitator and initiator of the ideas. Creates experiences, systems and workshops (projects/processes) that allow companies, brands, organizations, and events to communicate integral value offered to their users.Her experience comes from working with product, service and manufacturing companies, design & culture studios in Paris, Helsinki, New York, and across Polan...

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