Nature or Nurture.
Can you change the shape of a business?

Matt Tipping


Do you ever wonder how to change your business to be more human, where all your staff are engaged and self managing all aspects of their responsibility and accountability?

The business I founded has been treading a new path lately, lead by an appetite for change. At the heart of our transformation we have recognised and built on the original founding principals of Double – ‘…the business will be built on professional integrity, leading client management and a team of passionate staff striving to leave a long-lasting legacy. We shall invest in our people, our clients, and our suppliers, supporting and pushing the boundaries through innovation, passion and hard work’ [extract from our original Business Plan 1 – 2008].

The big itch

When I now read my original goal, it still resonates, but we were definitely not operating Double by these implied principles. The business had grown year-on-year and we had added more and more command and control processes where all decisions were made by the Board. Staff had little or no visibility of any of the ‘closed doors’ discussions that would ultimately affect their ability to make their own role decisions or build their own sense of wellbeing and personal happiness. This, I imagine, is a very normal business structure. To me, this was like an itch I couldn’t scratch. Why do we have to continue this way? Why do we not trust each other to make the best decisions and support each other? How can we change this? So began our 4-year journey of change that is still ongoing.

Using Coaches

First comes the will to change and the acceptance that this will be, at times, a painful and soul searching process. Our moment came in mid-2014 where a sudden and unexpected change in the Board gave us the opportunity to revisit our founding principals and business purpose. We recognised that we could not make these evaluations and changes alone so we interviewed and employed business coaches and mentors that are still working with us today. One very important thing we learnt is; no matter how much you think you know your business or yourself, a coach will dig deeper than you imagine and help you or your business be a better version of itself.

I believe that a lot of we have learnt along the way will be useful to other business owners. There have been various eureka moments which I will recount through a series of essays; From apparently simple changes to deeper, more challenging adjustments that have had profound effects. I hope that you’ll join me as I recall our successes and failures, and see how a new approach could change your business for the better.

Can I have some more?

10 years, 10 thoughts on better business.

As retail designers we are often drawn to consistent patterns in creating new store designs, formats and experiences. We naturally focus on finding the right material palette to communicate the brand and its values. We scrutinise the layout of each site and analyse the best possible paths for customer journey, sell-through, and penetration into the store. We seek to find new ways to “wow” customers, resulting in phones coming out of pockets to fill social media feeds with what’s new.

Designing a store that embodies brand values.

Recently as part of an interview, I was asked what retail may look like by 2025. Whilst I understood that this question shouldn’t be taken literally, I believe it is clear to see that retail is pushing forward into the realm of being experience-led. Brands know that their brick and mortar stores are becoming showrooms to try-on or try-out products, and as such, they are having to push harder to create experiences and connections with their customers.