How to design companies that push for a better society

Lately, we hear a lot of debate around companies like Facebook, Amazon, Instagram and Apple. It seems like the big technology companies of today are raising a lot of ethical questions; from privacy to salaries and environmental issues.

If we read the news, we could end up asking ourselves: is it even possible to design better companies that not only make the profit but care about society and the world?

Last week we ran a workshop at IAM Weekend festival precisely about that. It was called "It's Easier To Imagine The End Of The World Than The End Of Capitalism", and we tried to imagine alternative visions for companies like Airbnb, Instagram, Google and Amazon.

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We started raising the fears and issues about these companies. The participants mentioned the lack of control, moral values and long-term vision as big problems in general.

But the importance of the workshop was not in talking about the problems, though imagining alternatives. As the title of the session pointed out, it's crucial to take back our imaginations and be able to visualise other ways far from what Silicon Valley philosophy made mainstream.

During the session, we made random new CEOs for these companies (using the exquisite corpse exercise) who served as a decision-making tool for the ideas we later generated. To spark the conversations, we ideated with our Human-Centric Deck.

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These were some of the ideas we got along the session:
 - Use Amazon to borrow tools from neighbours, show the user options to purchase items from his/her country to reduce CO2 and let them order things together with friends and family, so they can share shipping costs and reduce CO2 too.
- Convert Google into a truly flat and crowdsourced structure, and let the users decide on its future because we are all part of its success. 
- Change the way Instagram works and create collective profiles instead of individual ones. Promote discussions about feelings and meaningful experiences. Let people ask for help and get closer together.

Of course, there are a lot of viability questions that could arise from these alternatives, but the critical point is to prove that another future is possible. It's just a matter of imagining it.

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