Published in Ambidextrous

My article for the Stanford Journal of Design – Ambidexterous – has finally been published! Ambi has been one of my favorite publications on design for years and it’s real honor to be part of it. If you’re interested in the real world of design (behind all the shiny objects and pretty pictures) I would highly recommend getting a subscription.

You can either download the pdf of my article here or buy the whole magazine at

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MBA in Design Strategy – Sketchnotes from Residencies 2 to 5

Better late than never. Here are the sketch notes (attached pdfs) for the remaining residencies in semester two of my Design Strategy degree. Overall I feel like I got the most out of my leadership by design course but overall things really started to gell and everyone starting doing some amazing work this semester. Great teams, great work and I can’t wait for what the next group of lectures bring.
















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Design for social impact resources

Here are a collection of resources I have been collecting for design for emerging markets / design for social impact. I’ll be updating them from time to time and if anyone has any to add please post into the comments.

Social Design Projects

Articles and Presentations


Social Design Companies

Social Design Collectives

Social Design Tools

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A role for marketing and design

Marketing is the skill of discovering human needs and opportunities with the purpose of developing a business.

I think marketing can be viewed as the ability for businesses to answer two key questions.

  • What should we make?
  • How are we doing with what we made?

Obviously these are two very important core questions and putting on my design hat for a moment I can’t help but see the huge overlap with what marketing and design are trying to address.

That’s why we get into so many fights. We both want to play with the same ball.

With this overlap in the types of questions design and marketing are trying to address there can’t help but be conflict but also great opportunities for learning from each world. Marketing focuses on discovering needs that people have and tries to meet them through business. Design opens up opportunities it sees in people and tried to expose them through business and art. With that mind I think where design process needs help is with scaling and ability to project where the businesses should grow and develop. I think there’s a lot that can be learned and applied from marketing strategies that designers can use to project and show the impact of their work. Ultimately, I think design could be doing a lot better job of speaking a language business can understand and there’s a lot we can learn from marketing in that realm.

Both are looking into ‘what should we make’ and both are judged by ‘are people buying what we made’ but I think the paths taken to answer these questions are very different.

The majority of marketing practices take the approach of looking for needs and really analyzing the size and ‘slice’ of the demographic to see if it’s a viable business opportunity. They try to remain impartial to ‘if the market should’ want certain things (an amoral not immortal stance) and attempt to remain factual as possible to what the data shows the market demand is.

With the majority of design practitioners I think the approach is different. There is a lot less focus on the slice or analysis of the market. Instead there is the belief that if you are able to uncover a deep desire or need a market will create itself to fit around it. The marketing model is flipped and intrinsically the assumption is made that if you create it they will come. The reason design is able to run with these rash assumptions is because they are able to prototype, test and iterate their way to the successful path. These skills allows for early risk taking and eventually (if followed through) ends up with a less risky product to market.

The other way I’d like to propose that design differs from marketing is that it takes a moral and ethical stance. Certainly design has, for ages, taken an aesthetic stance on things. Designers routinely make an attempt to say what is or is not aesthetically pleasing for people (where as marketers are happy to provide people with whatever kitsch people want). Keep in mind I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that (I for one love kitsch). Just that design has a history (and skill sets that are build on that history) of taking a stance on why they are making their choices while marketing has been far more focused on providing an unadulterated service.

With this somewhat elitist stance of ‘choosing’ and the way design is evolving I think designers have started to incorporate more and more the idea of not just aesthetic concerns also human centered, sustainable and ethical considerations as well. Maybe it’s a backlash against the egotism of what design has been in the past but certainly it’s a movement that’s strongly underway in the design community. This ‘considered’ solution is what I mean when I say design (as it is starting to evolve) is in a much stronger place than marketing to take an ethical stance and I think that’s a key way that design is going to differ from marketing in the future.

The interesting thing I think is because design has the greater ability to exploit it has the a bigger responsibility for ethical considerations.

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Design Change . Change Design – Conversation about social change

I’m helping organize a Designer’s Accord Town hall. Join us if you want to be part of the conversation about designing for social innovation.

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Design Change . Change Design: The first student-led Designers Accord Town Hall meeting will take place on Friday, March 12th at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Please join D-Rev’s Krista Donaldson and CCA’s Design Strategy MBA students as we embark on a journey fueled by lively discussion surrounding Designing for Social Change.

As we move towards building a more responsible and sustainable future, design’s value is no longer measured in terms of beauty or function. Design is a now a framework for change, used by leaders around the world to solve our planet’s most challenging problems.

The event:

6:00pm-6:45pm Networking (hors d’oeuvres and beer+wine)
6:45pm-7:15pm Keynote Presentation, Krista Donaldson
7:15pm-8:15pm Open Presentations on Social Impact, 5 min time slots
(volunteer now to present or at the door by 6:15 pm)
8:15-8:45 General Discussion + networking

CCA / Designers Accord Town Hall
March 12th, 2010, 6:00 pm
California College of the Arts
The Nave
1111 Eighth Street
San Francisco, CA 94107-2247


The event was a tremendous success! M thanks to everyone that showed up and participated in the dialogue on design for social change.

Here’s some pictures from the event (taken by the amazing Faraz Shah) > Event Photographs on Flickr

And Here we are on Core77 >

And a way to continue the conversation on Twitter > #designchange

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