In medieval times, moral philosophy was ‘absolutist’. This is the belief that there was a definite right and wrong in all circumstances. The main reason for this was religion. Life and death depended on religion, and religion depended on belief not reason. So humans were limited to obeying, not thinking. But since medieval times, religion has lost its grip on our minds. Now we are capable of thinking and questioning. And that has led to the rise of ‘relativist’ moral philosophy. Relativist differs from absolutist because all answers are dependent on circumstances. So all answers are relative, not absolute. For instance, we still accept “Thou shalt not kill” as a general rule. But now we also think first. If we kill a single evil person in order to save the lives of thousands of innocent people, can that be wrong? The same is true with homosexuality, gender equality, slavery, or torture. Many things which were taught as unquestionably right or wrong can now be seen as more nuanced, less simplistic.
Every now and then, the esoteric world of graphic design comes crashing into everyday real life, and typography nerds go head to head with… well, normal people who don’t really care. Last week the collision involved the book cover design for Michael Wolff’s sensational White House exposé Fire and Fury and a panel of army jurors with something to say about its aesthetic. ‘Ugly’, ‘horrible’, ‘what a waste’, ‘hilariously bad’, are some of the politest things said about the design of the year’s biggest publishing story. Edel Rodriguez, whose cover designs for Der Spiegel, Time and New Statesman have given us some of the most iconic imagery of the Trump administration to date, even offered an alternative design for the cover. It’s good, isn’t it?
Does the world really need another book on leadership? Do most leaders, operating in a VUCA world, really have the time or energy to read another one? When it comes to Andy Bird’s new book The Inspired Leader, I would encourage leaders of all ages to make the time. Unlike many works that focus on what it takes to lead others, this is primarily a roadmap to diagnose one’s own sources of inspiration and find ways to maintain it. It includes relevant supporting theory for those that may want to dig deeper into research in these areas, and plenty of case studies to bring the key arguments to life. One thing that makes this book thought provoking is the range of individuals whose stories pepper the pages. Rather than taking a tight definition of ‘leader’, Bird includes a mix of young and old in the public and private sector, with a good geographical balance.
“But I suppose the most revolutionary act one can engage in is... to tell the truth.” (Howard Zinn, “Marx in Soho: A Play on History”) When I received this book over the post, I was a little bit surprised. Its scrapbook style seems to replicate the old-fashioned (leftist) political pamphlets of my university days, I guess to give the reader “That Revolutionary Feeling”… The usual marketing gimmick? More than that, luckily. “Revolt” has the ambition to be the manifesto of a new way to do marketing. In my view, it represents the tangible proof of the increased importance that CSR and Millennials are having in shaping brand and communication strategies.
Ask someone if they know what ‘nudge’ means, and they’re increasingly likely to answer ‘yes’. ‘ Nudge’ has become a watch word of behavioural science and is widely understood as being indicative of actions which steer behaviour change. But are people as familiar with the related term ‘sludge’? Perhaps not, not yet, but they would be well advised to get up to speed. ‘Sludge’ has come to represent the dark side of nudge ethics and is used to define and draw attention to companies who use behavioural science and nudges in ways that hurt rather than promote the welfare of consumers. Sludging includes things like hidden add-ons, or long and confusing fine print, hidden subscriptions, or bureaucratic red tape and paperwork. In short, sludge is any measure which makes it harder for a consumer to do what’s in their best interest.