Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Good design

Here is the follow-up on the previous post.

"In any endeavor, good design resides in two principles. First, it changes the least number of elements to achieve the greatest result. Second, it removes stress from a system rather than adding it. Bad design is pinning our hopes for environmental and cultural survival on a change in human consciousness and behavior alone, because we therefore depend on the highest number of uncontrollable elements--people--to undergo a great change. Likewise, bad design is having to institute several hundred thousand rules and restrictions under the jurisdiction of the government and expecting business to know them all, much less obey them.
Good design makes things easier and simpler. Good design seems natural, unaffected, and appeals to common sense. Good design for the commercial system accounts for and appeals to the innate behavioral modes of both governance and commerce. Let governance govern with a minimum of intrusion and with a genuinely "conservative" approach; let business be business at its best: humane and creative and efficient.
One of the ways to further this goal is to invert the old values and reverse the traditional cost-price incentives. We need a predictable and consistent market that recognizes the true, full costs of doing business and reassigns them to the marketplace, where they belong. We require a market economy that rewards the highest internalized cost, an economy in which business prospers when it is responsible both socially and ecologically. We need business to thrive by exceeding regulatory standards rather than by challenging or circumventing them. Businesses should literally compete to be more ecological, not only on moral or ethical grounds or because it is "the right thing to do", but because such behavior squarely aligns with their bottom line. In short, we must design a marketplace that obviates acts of environmental destruction by making them extremely expensive, and rewards restorative acts by bringing them within our means. If we do this, environmental restoration, economic prosperity, job creation, and social stability will become equivalent."

Paul Hawken, The Ecology of Commerce. A Declaration of Sustainability. (Chapter "Restoring the guardian").

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