What, how, why

I recently saw Simon Sinek’s How great leaders inspire action TED talk (linked to in the Open letter to BlackBerry bosses, via @daringfireball ). It is slightly evangelical in tone, but the core message survives scrutiny. The idea that sustainable actions flow from a vision, rather than objectives, is worthy, as are the implied messages of clarity, simplicity, and direct accountability. This approach applies particularly well when seen in a context where the outcomes are not gizmos (physical products of any kind) but new conditions for people.

I wondered how it applied to my direct environment, and scribbled the concentric Why / How / What above. Deciphered, it reads:

• Why: change the way people think about design

• How: build understanding of context | critical thinking | reflection

• What: run a course in TD [typeface design]

One of my ways to test the model was to put different things in the last line (our actions) and still the cascade makes sense. It works for the TDi summer course, and it works when the model for our new course, soon to be outlined in New Orleans.

It also explains, for me, why so many people connected to the MATD go out there and do stuff. Conferences, meetings, jam sessions, things that are driven by a deeper desire to change the way people think about design and typography.

I’m okay with that.