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Hello everyone, here are some of the things I’ve been reading this month.


Managing Director ustwo London, Lisbon & Tokyo

[Image: Gage Skidmore]

🌱☀️ Sho(o)ts of hope 

It can be tough to spot and trust signs of hope in 2020, but I think - on at least a few fronts - we’re starting to see causes for gentle optimism (🤞).

There is so much extraordinary coverage to read on the development of The Vaccine. A few Instagram accounts have shone through the pandemic - most of them political/health focused. Dr Esmerelda (@dresmerelda) is clear-eyed, fascinating and informative on every aspect of Covid, and I loved her stories explaining why and how it can be safe to produce a vaccine this fast. There seems to be something about the immediacy, visual nature and narrative possible on Instagram (compared to say, Twitter) that’s bringing out such a high level of content, analysis and response. See also Lydia Finney, Samantha Yammine, Joshua Wolrich for political and scientific coverage.

And Kamala Harris. Joy and hope. Joy and hope. Joy and hope. We watched this over and over in our house. And this.

♻️ 🐛 Transforming transformation

In our August newsletter I asked whether Covid led your digital transformation, as it has for so many.

Arguably, just as an economic depression is said to be the best time to invest in advertising, now may be the best time to begin transformation, but in a new way. It’s not enough to talk about carefully optimising products and cultures for “digital transformation”. Now we need to look at *everything* transformation. 

We need to radically reinvent our ethics, our working practices, our missions, our infrastructure so they’re fairer, more resilient and adaptable, less brittle and myopic. And we need to put people first. It’s been a tough year. 2021 might be tough too, but it will also be *exciting*. Radical approaches.

Some stories I’ve enjoyed: 8 questions for boards to ask about building a digital organisation. Just enough detail: Canada’s content design for their Covid alert app. Seeing rooms: “Cummings had a vision for data-driven efficiency, policy and governance based on real-time data flows”.

Black Lives Still Matter

In a world where the Sainsburys Christmas ad gets the kind of backlash it did, I shouldn’t be surprised, but dear reader I was: Airbnb has turned away 1.4 million users who refused to sign its non-discrimination agreement.

Otegha Uwagba’s Whites: On Race and Other Falsehoods essay is a good, uncomfortable read. You should read it, though merely *reading* Black writers isn’t enough: “How to tell white people [...] that if they take allyship seriously, they stand to lose the privileges that are as integral to their lives as breathing. That losing those privileges is necessary.”

🧻🎄 Supermarket panic-sweep

Fascinating to see the things people bought while cramming in a “last” shop before Lockdown 2 - especially the way policy and behaviour interact. Announce a lockdown, and people make plans to make the most of the last few days, circulating more. Announce a lockdown two months before Christmas and everyone stocks up on chocolate oranges. 

Lockdown retail has also seen us return “to brands [we have] known for decades — from Kraft Heinz macaroni cheese to Dettol disinfectant” (paywall). And Spam! I mean, not personally. But a lot of people did.

🍇🍋🍒  Quick bites

Senior jobs with flexible hours “get 20% more female applicants”.

Ways employers can support working parents - the photos are great. 

Monzo and Starling grabbed 43% of all banking current account switches in Jan-Sep 2020.

Elena Ferrante names her 40 favourite books by female authors.

🦸   ustwo news 

We are finalists in Fast Company's Innovation by Design Awards 2020 for our Heading South game with Google. So much to admire in all of the finalists and winners.

What’s next for shopping? - ustwo’s new report is our practical take on how to thrive in retail in the new now.

“Make, Learn, Change” is our guide to Agile working and how to do it both at an organisational and a personal level.

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