The Ten Commandments of Good Design


Dieter Rams at Vitsœ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Dieter Rams is a German industrial designer who has been recognized as one of the most influential industrial designers of the 20th century. He worked for 40 years at the German consumer products company, Braun. Today, he works at Vitsœ, a British furniture company that manufactures and sells products designed by Rams.

According to Vitsœ’s website, in the early 1980′s, as he became increasingly aware of his influence in the world, Rams began asking himself a fundamental question: “Is my design good design?”

Realizing that it’s not easy to measure design in any definitive way, Rams decided to set out the principles which he attempted to follow in his work. The result is the list below which is frequently referred to as the “Ten Commandments of Good Design”.

1. Good design is innovative.

The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.

2. Good design makes a product useful.

A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.

3. Good design is aesthetic.

The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products we use every day affect our person and our well-being. But only well-executed objects can be beautiful.

4. Good design makes a product understandable.

It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product talk. At best, it is self-explanatory.

5. Good design is unobtrusive.

Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.

6. Good design is honest.

It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.

7. Good design is long-lasting.

It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.

8. Good design is thorough down to the last detail.

Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the user.

9. Good design is environmentally-friendly.

Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.

10. Good design is as little design as possible.

Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

Although Rams developed these principles in the context of his work as a designer of consumer products, we should reflect on them when it comes to designing anything in the business today. Currently I am working on a complex program for client and whether it is a slide deck, workbook or a program plan. Most, if not all, of Rams’ principles are directly relevant.

I am a big believer in the importance of simplicity and Rams’s advice is spot-on: Concentrate on what is essential and dispense with everything that is not. In fact, Rams has described his approach to design with the phrase “Weniger, aber besser“, which in English means “Less, but more”.

Simplicity is not just a sound bite in today’s business environment. Call a senior consultant with Ember Carriers at (513) 984-9333 for a free strategy session consultation to take your company to the next level.



Moving with Purpose with Focus and Flexibility

A Key Skill of Business Leaders

Focusing on study

If you were to compile a checklist of attributes for great leaders, it would probably include the following items:

  • Visionary
  • Great communication skills
  • Focus
  • Courage under fire
  • Charismatic
  • Strategic thinker

When I ask business owners which of these attributes is most important for a their business to have, most would probably say “strategic thinker.” With so many competitors in every market and with change happening in the blink of an eye, it takes a great strategy to come out ahead. It takes someone who can look around, make new connections, and connect the dots faster.

But creating a winning strategy is only half the equation and the easiest part. Leading effectively in today’s business environment requires the ability to think strategically but also to implement according to that strategy. And this is where many leaders and entire organizations are falling short.

The number skill of today’s business leaders and company owners is to focus on both strategy and implementation. This represents a huge difference from a generation ago, when it often took several years for a good strategy to unfold. These days, speed, the rapidity of change, and universal access to information have created a whole new set of demands that require daily attention to ensure that the strategy unfolds properly.

The challenge for business leaders is finding a way to balance their energy and attention across both strategy and execution. You can you help your clients by coaching them to develop tools that will create the same sense of urgency around strategy and focused implementation that they normally devote to putting out all the “emergencies” that occur throughout the day.

These tools can be as low-tech as a sticky-note reminder or as sophisticated as an automated “task ping” from their PC or laptop – anything that keeps them focused on the activities necessary to turn their plan into reality.

To develop more focus around implementation, encourage your clients to pause for a few minutes and plan out their time for the week ahead. Segment it into separate activity blocks, such as collecting data on strategy X, hands-on work on initiative Y, feedback sessions, customer meetings, communication events, etc. The goal is to get them thinking about where they are spending their time and how much of it correlates to actually achieving their strategy.

Next, have your clients review the percentage of time they allocate to each activity block and ask: Does this align with getting us to our destination? Am I ignoring or missing critical areas? Are there areas taking up too much of my time for the anticipated return? Of all the activities I am doing right now, what will have an impact a year from now?

Spending all their time contemplating the future might work for think tanks and ivory towers. But in the business world, it’s the day-to-day actions (communicating, providing feedback, realigning behaviors, recognizing others, etc.) coupled with strategic thinking and doing that equates to success.

Many leaders can come up with a winning strategy. It’s the follow-through and focus on getting the right things done that separates the great leaders from the good ones. Don’t just run, run in the right direction!

Need advice on how to get back on the right track? Call a senior consultant with Ember Carriers at (513) 984-9333 for a free strategy session consultation to learn how you can FUEL your workplace.



Featured Competency: Persuasive Communications

Persuasion by Jane Austen

What does it mean it mean to be persuasive? It means moving people to action. It means having an impact with your communications. It means getting ideas across and making a difference.

Defining it as a competency means: The ability to plan and deliver oral and written communications that are impactful and persuasive with their intended audiences.

In your organization the key behaviors associated with Persuasive Communications would include:

  • Identifies and presents information or data that will have a strong effect on others
  • Selects language and examples tailored to the level and experience of the audience
  • Selects stories, analogies, or examples to illustrate a point
  • Creates graphics, overheads, or slides that display information clearly and with high impact
  • Presents several different arguments in support of a position

Why is this competency important to your organizational success?

Persuasive Communication is important for professionals in sales and marketing.  It is also important for leaders, who need to gain support for a new vision of the organization, for an operational plan, and for changes in structure and work processes. This competency is also important for anyone who needs to gain others’ support for initiatives.

Interested in developing this behavior in your organization?

This competency involves developing two skills.  The first of these is designing and developing communications that will have a persuasive impact. This skill also requires thinking about and anticipating the impact of various communication strategies. Two kinds of information can be used to achieve a persuasive impact:

  • Identifying and highlighting arguments or data that are logically compelling; and
  • Identifying and highlighting arguments or data that address specific interests, concerns or fears of the audience.

An excellent way to enhance your ability to design and develop persuasive communications is to work closely with someone who is skilled in this ability. Books and courses on presentation skills can also be helpful.

The second skill involved in Persuasive Communication is presentation delivery. A course in presentation skills is likely to be especially helpful, because it combines specific instruction with practice and feedback.  There are also books, video’s and self-study courses to develop presentation skills.

Call a senior consultant with Ember Carriers at (513) 984-9333 for a free strategy session consultation to learn how you can FUEL your workplace and develop key competencies in your companies for future success.



Celebrate Progress and Small Wins

Celebrating Success

Celebrating Your Successes

Recently during a conversation with a client over the summer she was telling about her 5 year old graduation from Kindergarten.  Kindergarten?!? I don’t remember graduating.  A few weeks later I discuss this concept with another consultant who said he never went to his graduation after receiving his master’s degree from University.  And then in dawn on me that in children we celebrate progress; any progress. We throw parties for every achievement.  We applaud their efforts. We hug them, kiss them, congratulate them, and reward them for the tiniest advances. According to early childhood research this atmosphere of encouragement can play a large role in the accelerated progress children make in the early months and years of their lives.

Do when did we stop celebrating?  When did the accolades not matter any more to us? When did we stop to acknowledging the small wins, have a celebratory toast for a job well done or do a little fist pump and happy dance?  Just because we are adults, we shouldn’t stop celebrating progress. Progress is a reward in itself.  
Stop for a moment and think about your most recent success – big or small. Is it easy to remember what that success was? Did you celebrate it? Are we not happier when we make progress. Take stock of your life, your career and your relationships.  Study the areas that you are making progress in. Look back at times in your life when you have made progress in an area of your life.  How did you feel about yourself, your life, and your future?  
We are used to downplaying our successes and over-playing our failures, and it is so important that we change our focus! I’m not suggesting that we overlook any shortcomings or mistakes, since they are key learning points, but we do need to make sure we don’t pay so much attention to them that we have no time or energy to celebrate our successes. Our lives are so busy that we have programmed ourselves to always keep moving and keep working toward that next accomplishment, forgetting to stop and pay attention to what we just accomplished. We convince ourselves that we don’t have time to celebrate, and that everything else is more important than celebrating.
Our capacity for improvement is unmistakable and limitless. Whether it is professionally or personally, in the area of health and well-being, personal finances, relationships, diet and exercise, or character and spirituality, we have an extraordinary ability to improve.  I challenge you to change that belief and to increase the value of celebration in all aspects of our lives.

Celebrating our success is important for several reasons:

It makes us aware of what we’ve accomplished, building our confidence to keep taking BOLD ACTIONS and reach even greater heights.

It gives us a reason to pause in the midst of high-action, potentially stressful days and give energy to that which we want to grow. Stress is often caused by our fear that we won’t get things done or that we will fail in some way, so when we stop to celebrate a success, we change our focus from fear to belief.

The more room we make for celebration, the less room we have for criticism.

Who you are today is only a shadow of who you are capable of being. It is our potential that most excites and frustrates us.  Focus on this question to drive your pursuit of progress: “Am I better today than I was yesterday?”

Knowing we will be celebrating our successes gives us additional motivation toward achieving success. The more successes, the more chances to celebrate!

Call a senior consultant with Ember Carriers at (513) 984-9333 for a free strategy session consultation to learn how you can FUEL your workplace and learn to celebrate you companies success.




A Simple Plan: Three Goals for Every CEO


goal (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

In an interview with the New York Times, FM Global CEO and Chair Shivan S. Subramaniam revealed the most important tools for managers when ensuring employees are being productive. He said that while not everyone completes tasks in the same way, as long as the tasks are completed with the firm’s goals in mind, managers should be pleased.dong fang qi mo

Among the “key result areas” for FM Global are:

  • profitability
  • retention of existing clients
  • recruitment of new clients

Incentive plans for workers are created with those goals in mind, and the tasks associated with those goals remain transparent to ensure each worker understands them. Leadership is about knowing when to express anger or frustration and when to stay calm, he said. Taking risks should be part of any leader’s dynamic to ensure the company continues to innovate and grow while maintaining a connection with workers. First time CEOs, according to Subramaniam, also have to be prepared for large amounts of external work such as hiring the right directors and ensuring that the executive team and others work well together to ensure the best decisions are being made.

Source: New York Times (Bryant, Adam)

Call a senior consultant with Ember Carriers at (513) 984-9333 for a free strategy session consultation to take your company to the next level.




Make Boss’ Day – The day of Get it Done

I hereby declare Boss’ Day 2013 the the Day of the GET IT DONE.  As in – go do it. Now!  Make progress!  Move forward already!
English: Xavier University's Smith Hall

Xavier University’s Smith Hall

DO: Create forward movement in your business

Ok fellow Ember Carriers, business owners, soloprenuers, and start-ups – it’s time to stop talking about all your great projects and plans you are going to do “someday.”  Today is someday! celebrate Boss’ Day by getting ON with IT!Atlanta

DO: Take action NOW
What are you waiting for?

  • 2014?
  • A super hero?
  • The “perfect client?”
  • To get enough money to hire a team of trained professionals to do it for you Aufblasbare Zelte?
Oh, wait – what was that last one is a viable option – and if you can’t afford a team just start with one person for one project?
DO: Delegate

Delegating does not mean giving up full control of your business.  The day I hired Jackie as my part time assistant the is the day my life got easier.  Delegating means creating the freedom to work ‘on’ your business rather than ‘in’ it, and even more important, it gives you the freedom to open yourself up to attract more clients!

Another idea is to hire interns.  I have three well-respected colleges and universities in my backyard and this year I participated in Xavier University’s mentor program and this opened my eyes to the possibility of interns.  I have two mentees and they both were working hard to secure summer internships.  It was then I thought why not hire college kids to help with projects.  It helps them with work experience and it provides companies with fresh perspectives in areas like social networking, multimedia and web 2.0 strategies.
Check out all the amazing ways assistants (virtual or in-person) and interns can help you revolutionize your business today and into 2014:
Always wanted an ezine to call your own, but start sweating when you think about all the work and research involved? Well, take a deep breath, relax, and let art students help you get that done for you and Voila, IT’S DONE!  Or, let’s say you are awesome and already have an Ezine but now you need a new content to spice things up well this is where a few minutes a day hire someone to search top blogs for trends.Writing, Proofreading and Editing Services
Commas and semicolons and grammar, oh my! Is that a colon or a dash? Its or it’s? Affect or effect?  Can’t spell?  Don’t worry.  There are people in the world that love the details by nature, they lived for it and are probably more meticulous than you, at times.  From copywriters, to fact checkers to researchers, hiring assistant or interns help you avoid those ghastly grammatical errors and escape the trappings of idiocy.Teleseminar Support and Production
Daydreaming about your one (or thirty) teleseminars that you intend to have if you could just find the time to figure out how to have a teleseminar? You tell an assistant when and they can take care of the how!  From squeeze page to the very last auto-responder, assistants think through every detail covered.

Graphic Design
Banners, t-shirts, brochures, business cards, e-books, invitations, logos – you name it! If you want a pretty picture, a unique design, a creative marketing tool, or an impressive brand, hire a graphic design student and they will work with you to create graphics that match you, your energy, style, and image. Another great option I have been using lately is where you can hire talent starting at only $5.  The things that take us hours and even days can take experts minutes.  Stop procrastinating trying to find the right design just give the assignment to an art director.  I found a great one on

In drastic need of some website updates? Do you need a page added to your site? Would you like to create a membership community or establish a WordPress Blog?  Or, do you just plain old need a website? Chances are you are already outsourcing this type of work but don’t just use one person.  You can have a team of web experts that can take care different areas. And while my colleague Kirk Carter will cringe and this thought, until you are ready to complete a full marketing plan, a decent website with your vision is better than one that is out dated and hideous.  make iterative changes to keep your site fresh.

Social Networking
Interns and assistants are a great option for social media.  You can write the posts but let them help you with the research and maximizing your company’s social media presence.  Have them review and polish your various profiles with updated information, collaborate on what and when to post, and determine what networks attract your best clients.

Wishing you success and productivity in remaining days of 2013 and into 2014!


Call a senior consultant with Ember Carriers at (513) 984-9333 for a free strategy session consultation to learn how you can get more done in your workplace.