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At Grant Design Collaborative, solid design thinking is human-centric and empathetic. At the heart of our creative strategy is the basic principle of mindfulness. In a new age of business economy where purpose trumps power, our intention plays an integral role in generating quantifiable results.

Mindfulness is defined as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and sensations. Some think of it as a momentary mental break from the stresses of the day, whether that’s taking a deep breath, taking a short walk or otherwise reflecting on life outside of the task at hand. But it can also be used as a strategic tool to address problems in a different way. At Grant, mindfulness most commonly manifests itself in what we call our “war room” process, applied when developing long-term brand strategy or searching for breakthrough concepts—or “a-ha” moments—for larger projects. These think tank sessions start with incubation periods of individual exploration and research that culminate in thoughtful group presentations. We present core motivations, values and behaviors about both the stakeholders directly affected and the internal teams behind these products and services before finalizing a creative master plan.

In a recent article by Katrina Schwartz on the Mind/Shift blog, she considers how schools are witnessing big benefits in teaching mindfulness. She writes, “Mindfulness is the ability to exist in the present moment and practicing it often looks like meditation. Schools across the country are beginning to use mindfulness as part of an effort to address the social and emotional needs of children, improving student achievement in the process.” Studies of mindfulness programs in schools have found that regular practice—even just a few minutes per day—improves student self-control and increases classroom participation, respect for others, happiness, optimism, and self-acceptance levels. It can also help reduce absenteeism and suspensions. In addition, a mindfulness practice helps reduce activity in the amygdala, the brain’s emotional center responsible for fear and stress reactions.

“The other thing we know mindfulness does with the brain is it increases the activity in the prefrontal cortex,” said Vicki Zakrzewski, education director at the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center, which studies the science behind mindfulness. “This is where we make our decisions, how we plan, our abstract thinking,” she continues.

At Grant, we strive to incorporate mindfulness into long-term brand strategies for our clients. We focus on end-users and their needs, and we assess post-modern values and the mindset of millennials in the workplace. The workforce is changing dramatically, and how our clients communicate and deliver their products and services must stay ahead of the curve.

Recently, a Fortune 100 company engaged us to look at how they could better organize, communicate and promote their sustainability efforts. We audited the company’s existing green messaging and brand touch points, surveyed their employees and clients, and researched their clients’ customers. In the process, we discovered that the company would be better equipped to communicate their sustainable framework by first identifying and prioritizing their values that are currently integrated into the company culture and how those are important to their customers. This will essentially create a “sustainability mindfulness” model for the future. As a result of our findings, the company put our portion of the project on hold while they further define and humanize their sustainability values. Once they complete this internal assessment, we will collaborate on the best strategy to naturally, mindfully communicate the brand’s sustainable DNA.

Maybe small acts of grace matter, after all. Maybe, instead of slowly destroying ourselves by submitting dumbly to the pesterings, we can save ourselves with small touches of grace and civility and good design. – Bill Stumpf, The Ice Palace That Melted Away