A refresh, recommended sources, and a deep dive into the Circular Economy
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Issue 6
January 2021
Welcome to the first Designers in Business newsletter of 2021.

Regular subscribers will notice the design of the newsletter has been refreshed. The format has been given an update too, adding quotes and useful sources (such as people, websites, and channels) into the mix.

Certain issues will include deep dives on a single topic. This month we're exploring a subject that's popped up in this newsletter before: the Circular Economy.

In personal news, this week I confirmed my place in the next cohort of the d.MBA, a business education course made specifically for designers. With my application approved and fees sent, I'm excited to get started on 1st March. Expect updates on how I'm getting on in a future edition.

Finally, I've spent some time improving the archive of previous newsletters on the Designers in Business website. You can now search and filter all content from previous editions in one place, alongside the previous option to browse by issue. The current version of this archive is a little rough for now (there are tagging and interface improvements planned), but hopefully this is the start of a useful resource which will continue to grow.

See you in February!

Tom Prior
Curator of Designers in Business
The quote
“Our responsibility as design leaders is to move beyond thinking about our role as a core discipline, and evolve into being strategic partners.”
- Harrison Wheeler, Product Design Manager at LinkedIn in Abstract State of Design
The sources
Our monthly spotlight on the people and organisations providing great business content on the regular. Ones to follow, bookmark, and support.
If you’re interested in understanding product positioning, then April Dunford is the perfect person to follow. We explored her Introduction to Positioning in last month’s newsletter, and this week she expanded on this piece in the latest Lenny’s Newsletter.
Photo of April Dunford
A design and investment partner focused on early stage startups, Designer Fund also run training programme’s for design leaders looking to improve their business impact. Designer Fund’s free community events are a great resource for practical case studies.
Designer Fund logo
The move from business graduate to successful design leader is a relatively rare one. This makes Kevin Bethune’s 20 year journey one I’ve particularly enjoyed learning about. His recent discussion with John Maeda on the 2020 CX Report is well worth a listen.
Photograph of Kevin Bethune
The language
What is... CAPEX and OPEX?

Both CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) and OPEX (Operational Expenditure) categorise the money a business spends on the things it needs to operate.

CAPEX expenses are incurred to create long term profit. These are typically big purchases - things like machinery or the outright purchase a building or vehicle would be classed as CAPEX spend.

OPEX expense is the spending required to keep a business running day to day. Things like salary, energy bills, leased equipment and cloud computing subscriptions are Operational Expenditure. OPEX tend to make up the majority of an organisation's outgoing costs.
The long read
The State of Design 2021

Another state of design report? This one from Abstract is particularly worth a read. Around 50% of the designers surveyed felt their design work could be more valuable by better measuring its impact, and through a focus on delivering outcomes over outputs.
Screenshot from the State of Design Report
The deep dive
The Circular Economy
This month we look closer at a growing economic model which has will have enormous impact on business, design, jobs and the planet. An alternative to our traditional linear (make, use, dispose) economy, the Circular Economy model designs out waste and keeps products and materials in use for as long as possible.

Design is critical to the success of Circular models, both in the design of physical products and the creation of digital products: subscription-based purchasing online, keeping track of inventory, and reporting on the health of products and their materials.

Let's look closer to understand the opportunities and approaches for designers working with Circular businesses...
Ellen MacArthur Foundation

This short video is a great primer if you're new to the Circular Economy. It's produced by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, who are a leading voice the the Circular movement.
Thumbnail of video explaining the Circular Economy
The Circular Economy Show Podcast

This roundtable is a great way to discover how Circular is practically applied, covering real world businesses examples.
Thumbnail of podcast about the Circular Economy
Ideo CoLab

Ideo lead the way when it comes to design practice for Circular businesses. In this talk, Ideo's explore how the collaboration between design and business is critical to success.
Thumbnail of talk about designing for the Circular Economy

Interested in exploring strategies for Circular design? This guide is a great resource for methods, resources, and practical case studies to get you inspired.
Screenshot of the Circular Design Guide
The listen
The latest episode of the d.MBA podcast really resonated with me as someone who is looking to find the right balance between the focus on business and design in my work and approach.

Alen neatly frames the tension of this dilemma - “The value system of the design community prevents us from fully embracing business. We are afraid. Won’t business knowledge lead me to compromise my principles?”
Sticker for the dmba which reads Bridging business and design to run more balanced organisations
The talk
The Merging Reality of Design and Business
Satyam Kantamneni at Google Design Is

I really enjoyed Satyam's personal reflections on his journey as a designer connecting the dots with business. In this talk as part of Google's 'Design Is' series, he introduces concepts such as design premium and impact ratios that have helped him improve his relationship with business colleagues.
Photo of Satyam Kantamneni
Are you enjoying Designers in Business? Know someone who might be starting their own journey to business confidence?

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Thanks! Tom - Curator of Designers in Business
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