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Business

I like to think that life is like a marathon, in that everyone races for their own reasons. Sometimes you meet up with fellow runners and other times you come to a fork in the road where you part ways. You must be lead by your inner voice telling you what is important, rather then just finishing the race with the best time or the most calories burned. All of the clients that I have had the privilege to work with at Manoverboard are either focused on causes related to helping community or the environment.

When you are gauging your company’s impact on the lives of inner city youth or the amount of beets you planted in a community garden, it’s not as simple as dollars and cents on a balance sheet. Impact is fluid and often difficult to nail down, but there is a great way to demonstrate your purpose that will leave customers, investors and other stakeholders happy—and that is through an impact report.

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The Casio Challenge

With every new year we tend to assess the many facets of our lives and focus on the things that are not working. This seems to be common with every passing year, so I decided to see how I could curb the amount of time I spent staring into my phone. Even as I write this, I have already been interrupted by the urge to check it.

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clouds

The year 2016 was a year of forward motion for us at Manoverboard. We made great strides in our work, creating new strategies, sites, and identities for clients that are helping to solve some of the planet’s most challenging issues.

As a Certified B Corporation, we also made strides in conceptualizing, concretizing, and describing our social and environmental impact.

Like any small not-only-for-profit, there are challenges in creating and measuring that impact. We are not strictly a social enterprise, which typically provides opportunities to vulnerable or disenfranchised populations. We are also not a social impact firm in which our work directly influences the lives and livelihoods of the poor and economically disadvantaged. And we are not (yet) directly developing new solutions in the green economy, though we are strong advocates and users of sustainable technologies. Fundamentally, Manoverboard is a professional services firm and we have three direct means of creating and measuring positive impact.

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Designers and Despotism

ministry of science and culture

A number of designers have recently posted their thoughts about how we should respond to the potential emergence of autocracy. Mike Monteiro’s piece is particularly ranty and, as expected, simply great. My colleague, Spark Poster, wrote a Canadian-focused and thoughtful response.

As the founder of a design and communications firm and someone who is active in the design community, I put together a few ground rules for protecting ourselves and advancing movements. In the mid-1990s, I lived in Poland for a year and came to understand how traumatic Soviet and National Socialist domination was for that country. It had only been a short while since Poland had emerged from 55 years of totalitarian rule and the scars and stories were still very real. And designers and artists throughout Eastern Europe bore some of the brunt of the state. Many went to jail. (Sadly, Poland and parts of Europe are again undergoing a shift toward authoritarianism.)

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bonsai tree

Corporate websites are all but dead. Big, bloated, bloviating and boring, the vast majority of sites are already extinct. Most corporate sites today feature reams of outdated copy, meaningless stock images and cluttered content that either repels visitors or endangers their trust. These sites look fussy and frilly with their overly complicated navigation, their illegible text, and their ambiguous copy.

Meanwhile, the web is growing astronomically. Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook alone store more than 1.2 million terabytes of information—information that can be found on the third or thirtieth page of a typical search. And consumers are showing their loyalty to companies that produce the most timely and salacious stories online, making our corporate sites look dull and lifeless.

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