An end-of-year listicle in the form of an A-to-Z which, coincidentally, has 26 letters. Hence, 26 things done, said or made by Made by Many this most weird of years (*not all of them are objects):
A is for Abracademy
Rubens Filho’s magic startup has been embedded in our studios for most of the year. We’ve been learning tricks and our clients have enjoyed sleight-of-hand, prestidigitation and conjuring. Abracademy’s Big Hairy Goal is “to bring more magic to the world” which, given the general tenor of 2016, can only be admired. Buy some of Abracademy’s brilliant e-learning courses here, and follow them here.
B is for Bloop
Because side projects show what we can do without the restraints of a client brief. This year we built Bloop to create a new and more positive way of maintaining healthy control of diabetes. This free iPhone app enables people with diabetes to share blood readings with a friend, parent or trusted guardian. Find out more or sign up for the pilot at www.bloophealth.com
C is for Caravaggio
The exhibition that’s been on show at the National Portrait Gallery is worth seeing, since it reminds us how lessons from the history of art remain relevant in this ever-accelerating digi-present. Earlier this year co-founder Isaac Pinnock wrote this piece on how the Renaissance technique of chiaroscuro can be applied in contemporary design practice. (PS: the exhibition runs until January 15 2017).
D is for Digital Transformation
Disruption is happening. It’s real, it’s accelerating and businesses need to respond by meeting it with transformation. Yet no-one, it seems, knows what digital transformation really means. Here’s one way to think about it, from Tim Malbon’s story on the subject: “the most important change is one that happens within us — inside us as individuals, and inside the teams and businesses we work for.”
We’ll be focusing closer on helping organisations with their transformational journeys in 2017.
E is for Empathy
It’s important, in our work as designers as in our relationship as humans. We visited The Conference in Malmö in Summer, where empathy emerged as a central theme. But is it being misunderstood and misapplied? “Big Empathy” is fast becoming A Thing, and Om Malik has also suggested that Silicon Valley “has an empathy vaccum”.
Here’s to actual as (opposed to fake) empathy in 2017.
F is for Fireworks
Every year we buy the biggest ones we can find, then go to a beach, drink beer, cook food, and and let them off.
F is also for FEL
Also known as Front End London, where this year we heard talks on Voice UIs, HTTP/2 , CSS in JS, the Art Of Redux, IndexedDB, writing secure Node.js code and plenty more. Sign up for further tech-tastic meetups in 2017.js
G is for Games
Next year at Made by Many we plan to launch:
• A Segway for orchestras.
• An Uber for vending machines.
• A Skype for waiters.
• A Bitcoin for running.
• And a Foursquare for underwear.
Only joking; it’s just a game. But these are the kind of new business ideas that can be generated with Pitchdeck, the strategy tool-cum-card game we published earlier in the year. It is a fun way to encourage clients to think like startups, and even more fun game to play down the pub. (We’ve sold out of copies, though. Sorry).
H is for Hackaball
Our multi-awardwinning, first-of-its-kind, Kickstarter target-busting hardware project: a throwable computer, a connected toy, and an IoT way to teach kids the principles of coding, all in one. Hackaball is so clever, unique and valuable as a learning project that’s its already inspired imitators. Hackaballs are now shipped to backers (read what they have to say here) and are being unboxed. We’ll be publishing some great stories about the making of this spectacular object in early 2017.
I is for Innovation Labs
We published two reports on this vexed topic this year. Vexed, how? Because plenty of companies are running innovation labs, but no-one has quite formulated the secret sauce just yet. In Volume 1, “Asking the Big Questions about Innovation Labs”, we do just that, while in Volume two we offer the state of the art in innovation labs Best Practice. Download them here and here.
J is for Joy
Because the combination of design and technology can create it, but it’s easy to forget that fact.
K is for DJ Klassic
A friend of ours who often works in our office, who is also a junglist DJ. There’s more to life than work, after all…
L is for Levelling
On #EqualPayDay this year, our Director Of People and Happiness, CharlotteHillenbrand wrote this persuasive piece on the levelling potential of digital. On this issue as well as on the related topic of diversity we’ll be redoubling our efforts in 2017, but there’s something else to announce: Made by Many now offers employees four weeks’ paternity leave (versus the statutory one to two) and 19 weeks’ additional maternity pay.
We’re proud to say that we go above and beyond the minimum requirement.
M is for [email protected] and Mental Health
Speaking of inclusion, [email protected] Movement began a year ago here in the Made by Many studio as a meetup of 12 people with a shared vision to destigmatise mental illness in the workplace, and now it’s making headlines on the BBC, Telegraph and elsewhere, and will be going on the road nationally and internationally in 2017.
Want to get involved? You’ll be in good company: [email protected] now has over 300 members active in speaking out about mental illness. Meanwhile in the spirit of openness, there’s also this brave tale by designer Sam Small on how he treated his own mental health problem.
N is for saying No
Regularly, often, firmly, on principle. And then sticking to “no.”
O is for Obsessions
They’re what make us human. Obsessions shared by people at Made by Many this year include, but are by no means limited to, split peas, Spitfires, aniseed balls, submarines, growing crystals, The KLF, porcelain, mid-century modern furniture, facial care, Iceland, the Icelandic alphabet (and the letter œŧħ or “ð” in particular), the books of Alan Watts, learning the violin, open-water-swimming, Diet Coke, bagel-cutting devices, Alpine and Pyrénéen cols, modern coffee techniques, mountaineering, the mechanisms of evolution, seaside shacks, Karl Ove Knausgaard… and many more. We plan to stay obsessive in 2017.
P is for Problems
In 2016 we did a lot of thinking about Design Thinking, about its limitations and about why, maybe (probably) we need “full stack design thinking” instead. Co-founder tim malbon wrote about “The Problem With Design Thinking” and then offered “The Solution To Design Thinking.”
What’s the solution? Making stuff:
Q is for The Lone QA!
There is a man who sits in the corner of our studio who lifts weights every morning, can make a mean cocktail, and leads the Quality Assurance practice here. His name is Jamie and he is The Lone QA! Read about his expeditions deep into the machine here and here.
R is for Regent’s Canal
Still the best canal in north-east London next to which to have a studio in a former marble factory.
Here’s the view in summer (above).
S is for Sketching
Where design begins, and the skill no designer can work without. Downloads some tools from Tom White here, and consider Adam Morris’s evolution of the sketch here.
T is for Travel Booking
The way we do it is broken, and this year we’ve been involved trying to fix it with Finnair, among other clients. Our resident globetrotting travel expert, Fiona McLaren, explained the problem succinctly here.
We look forward to solving it in 2017.
T is also for Ten: really unfortunate things from 2016
• “Brainstorm island”
• Empathy as a Service
• The Fellatio Café
• Mulled Spice Scented toilet paper (NB: might be fake)
• Seeing people fall into the canal
• Fake news
• Trying to appear cool by writing your name in the Metallica font:
U is for User
Who we’re doing all this for, and thinking about how to relate to them as a therapist might relate to a client: inquisitively, empathically, respectfully. We published some guidance here, by way of Carl Rogers.
V is for the Victoria And Albert Museum
The client with whom we made a major change in the way a modern cultural institution can build and manage its own digital channels. Did we mention that the work we did for the V&A won an IDCA award? Find out more here and here.
W is for the World Economic Forum
The client for whom we delivered a high-performance, responsive new website and a powerful bespoke content management system in the run up to the organisation’s key event in Davos — an adaptive and modern digital platform fit for its diverse global audience. Take look at it here, and read the story of how we built it here.
X is for “Exactly what is it that you do again?”
A question perennially asked of product managers, often in a pub, bar or club late at night, to which Fiona McLaren (one of Made by Many’s PMs) gave a thumping good answer in her talk at Front End London. Includes “the triangle of ambiguity” (above).
Watch the talk here.
Y is for “Yes”
A contender for Most Popular Laptop Sticker Of The Year, 2016, thanks to a consignment from Wasted German Youth.
Z is for ZZ Top’s “Gimme All Your Lovin’”
While we eagerly await the EDM, dubset or grime remix of this classic rock song, the original mixes well into house and disco music, and was one of the standout tracks at our summer party on Bermondsey Street. See you on the dancefloor next summer?
Enough 2016, bring on 2017!
Merry Christmas and Happy New year from Made by Many.