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Hello everyone, here are some of the things I’ve been reading this month. (You can subscribe here or unsubscribe at any time. You can find out more about ustwo here.)


Managing Director ustwo London, Lisbon & Tokyo

🧠 💪   Responding to constant change. Imagining better futures.

The (one?) silver lining of Covid is apparently brain plasticity. It’s comforting and boggling to read how fast and how much our brain regenerates and adapts on a daily basis - and, presumably, recovers too. This is lucky, because we’re living through a time of increased changed and heightened uncertainty. 

You're still not working from home is a brilliant piece about the way that we are trying to live and work normally in a world that can no longer do normal and doesn’t stay the same from one month to the next. 

It also presents a challenge to us all: how we might shift from “how to do work-life balance during a pandemic” to “how to imagine our (work) lives as we’d actually like them to be”.

[Photo by Katya Austin on Unsplash]

🗞💡  Transforming The New York Times

I loved this extraordinary post. It’s a great articulation of the need to become a digital business, and how you might do it. Which led me to this interview with Mark Thompson, former CEO of The New York Times, pinpointing the challenges the organisation faced, and working out a plan for reinvention:

“When I got there, we had a print newsroom, with a few digital people. They’d make a wonderful print newspaper out of which they could get a website. And my notion was, it’s exactly the opposite of that.”

Related: ustwo’s approach to radical digital transformation


👀 👋   Your bias is showing! - The Social Dilemma

The Social Dilemma on Netflix is very popular. It’s good on surveillance and persuasive dark design patterns. But it has also been criticised for over-simplifying the issues, and for suggesting that the people to get us out of the mess are, well, the people that got us into it. 

Good documentaries always have an agenda, and a “story” - they’re always subjective and often beautifully so. It’s our job as viewers to understand that. But what if the content is so new, so different to anyone working outside, say, technology and design, that all they hear is “don’t let your children touch the internet! tech is bad!” The Social Dilemma accuses social media of mass manipulation, while also looking a lot like an act of mass manipulation itself!

Related, a fairly considered appraisal of social media: “We got divides instead of bridges”.


🤖 🥖   Robot retail 

This article about unstaffed digital supermarkets opening in rural Sweden is fascinating. Lifvs now have about 20 shops, and are growing into a gap left by small community shop closures in the 1980s. Their focus on smaller local communities means that they don’t really compete with Amazon Go and other checkout-less stores which typically serve an urban convenience market and have different shop formats. 

Cities might not need Lifvs, but countless small communities might need a local store, open 24/7, that they could meet at while shopping for essentials.

🍇🍋   Quick bites

Starbucks will tie executive pay to its diversity and inclusion goals.

Every member of Margot Robbie’s all-women screenwriting lab has sold a feature film.

Breakroom uses data to make hourly work better for everyone.

Odeon cinema thinks Netflix offers too much choice: Britons spend 187 hours browsing Netflix a year.

Gillian Wearing's lockdown self-portraits.

AOC succeeds at using Twitch as a get-the-vote-out stunt - by being not weird about it all (something most politicians seem to struggle with).


🦸   ustwo news 

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.

Thanks for reading. You can subscribe here or unsubscribe at any time. You can find out more about ustwo here

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