Sustain . able


Recap: 11/16/16

Hosted by LWD member Leslee Biggs Randolph at MWA Architects


Sustainability – New definitions in all facets of design and business

LWD member Kate Mackinnon facilitated a collaborative discussion on the many definitions of the word sustainability across all facets of the design industry. Given all of the overlapping definitions, we explored as a group what gets mainstreamed as “sustainability” vs. what the word means to each of us in our respected design fields and how it drives us each in design or business.  This conversation was in part facilitated to help guide a current project Kate is working on professionally.  One interesting conclusion was how the three categories set up had overlapping thoughts on what can and does make them sustainable.



Sustainable Profit:

  • Building coalitions to share resources and best practices
  • Building and maintain business relationships
  • Pricing solidarity
  • Maintaining pricing standards – no freebies
  • Lean manufacturing
  • Effective leadership – hiring lean teams
  • Good accounting and knowing your hidden costs
  • Building efficient work processes based on strengths
  • Document processes for future
  • Feeding your team’s design brains
  • Find the differentiator
  • Self care – maintain yourself as a resource
  • Pay attention to where your success is and emphasis and grow that area
  • Leveraging loans and resources – seeking investors
  • Growing and staying current while staying true to your business story
  • Stay curious
  • Know your markets climate and competitive landscape
  • Being humble
  • Being able to move with the market shifts quickly

Sustainable Product:

  • Aspects of sustainable product (life cycle)
  • Change design to address reuse
  • Adopt different technologies to make your process more sustainable – less physically wasted
  • Consider upcycling or use change after end of life
  • Carefully consider resources / time / expenses going into product
  • Maybe kind of wabi-sabi – thoughtful repair / thoughtful use of material
  • Maintain responsibility for life of product – warranty
  • Aspects of what makes something sustainable as a product and profitable
  • Play to your strengths, expand your audience, expand value of your product
  • Maintain relevant technology, relevant appeal, incremental change / development
  • Subscribe your service

Sustainable Culture:

  • Equality of power / hierarchy
  • Respect individuality
  • Respect diversity of types of job related engagements
  • Less ego
  • Flexibility
  • Trust and foster independent thinking
  • Clarity of values
  • Holistic growth
  • Foster constant learning
  • Foster life beyond work
  • Understanding self / work boundaries
  • Appreciation of employees and of company
  • Investment in employees
  • Value peoples time and life outside of work
  • Getting outside of the workspace together
  • Foster healthy discussions and disagreements
  • Diversity of scale
  • Mutual understanding and respect – (top-down / bottom-up)
  • Diversity of people’s positions and personal extra curricular
  • Respect finding the middle ground

References mentioned:

-Donella Meadows – Systems Thinking