How we work

The new web­site for Eden­spiek­er­mann is up. A lot of the projects are fairly main­stream and a lot of the copy sounds rather “cor­po­rate” to me. That is the result of hav­ing to agree on every sen­tence between nine part­ners and 100 col­leagues. My per­sonal take is rep­re­sented by the text I wrote about the HOW.

We run our busi­ness by shar­ing respon­si­bil­ity among nine part­ners. Each of us run project teams. We do not take money from face­less net­works and don’t have to be account­able to their con­trollers. We alone decide who we work for and how we orga­nize our­selves. And we put our money where our mouths are: we are share­hold­ers and inter­ested in the long view.
Most design con­sul­tan­cies or brand­ing agen­cies (pick your own name) offer pretty much the same type of work. It is how they go about their work that makes the dif­fer­ence. It is a ques­tion of atti­tude, per­son­al­ity, even morals.

The cur­rent cri­sis is also a cri­sis of val­ues: are peo­ple account­able for what they do? Is suc­cess rewarded with fat pre­mi­ums but fail­ure paid for by soci­ety? Can we carry on ask­ing for growth as the only way for­ward? Do we need new values?

Even design­ers are not only judged by the vis­i­ble results of their work, but more and more so by how they achieved them. Orig­i­nal­ity, per­son­al­ity, account­abil­ity are new buzz­words. Atti­tude is more inter­est­ing than cleverness.

Brands are suc­cess­ful when they when they are authen­tic, when they show atti­tude. They show how they make prod­ucts, how they treat their peo­ple, how they look at the future. Cheap stuff – the What – will still be made in China and else­where. Com­plex processes – the How – are designed here.

5 comments

  1. Rajeev Gupta

    Atti­tude counts, how­ever, humil­ity is a rare com­mod­ity and still a good ingre­di­ent for the mak­ing of a suc­ces­ful human being. I could not agree more with you about the HOW, how­ever, I do take excep­tion to the men­tion of China in a part deroga­tory man­ner. The intent of your state­ment is clear, but the sharp­ness of words bor­ders on arrogance.

    I went over the new web­site and can­not help but appre­ci­ate and admire a lot of the work in there. But with atti­tude should come a sense of appro­pri­ate­ness and humil­ity — areas where some work still needs to be put in — perhaps.

    For the records, I keep com­ing back to your work for it inspires me and chal­lenges me. I am look­ing for­ward to hear­ing you speak at Mum­bai in September.

  2. I don’t think say­ing that “Cheap stuff gets made in China” is deroga­tory. The fact is that prod­ucts made in China have inun­dated the world mar­kets, mainly because of their price. Qual­ity prod­ucts are also made in China – for Apple, amongst oth­ers – but the main rea­son they have things made there is price. There is noth­ing wrong with mak­ing things cheaply or mak­ing cheap things. It just hap­pens to have been China’s posi­tion on the world’s mar­kets for a long time, and very suc­cess­fully so. If you go to a Wal­Mart in the US, most prod­ucts in the shop will have been made in China, and peo­ple go to Wal­Mart because they’re cheap.

    I am euro­cen­tric, of course, because this is where i grew up and where i live and work. Pre­tend­ing to be polit­i­cally cor­rect about the so-called Third World is much more deroga­tory than hon­estly stat­ing one’s posi­tion. And we are in com­pe­ti­tion across the world, for work, resources, finance. In Europe we nei­ther have cheap labour nor enough nat­ural resources. So we have to sell our abil­i­ties instead. One day China will under­sell us there as well and I doubt that we’ll be able to ask for con­sid­er­ate treat­ment then.

  3. Rajeev Gupta

    Erik,

    Thanks for tak­ing out the time to respond.

    Your point is well taken. I am not Chi­nese myself, though I do come from another so-called third world coun­try — India. How­ever, even in India, the “Chi­nese” tag has the same uni­ver­sal mean­ing and sym­bol­ism and we con­tinue to face the threat of an eco­nomic intru­sion — if not inva­sion — from our cheaper neighbour.

    But I am still not con­vinced that China, or for that mat­ter, any place where things are made cheaper, does not pro­duce peo­ple who know HOW things ought to be done.

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