First Principles

First Principles

Chris Murphy · 30 June, 2020

As designers we have unique skills and incredible value to offer. We need to stop giving that value away to others, however, in favour of retaining it and leveraging it through businesses we own so that we are the ones who realise the value.

We also need to stop selling our time (a finite resource) and start selling our value (a potentially infinite resource).

Here's a typical scenario I used to encounter frequently (until the above realisations dawned on me). I've used a fictitious product, 'golden goose', but I could substitute it for countless digital and non-digital products that I've nurtured into existence.

In this scenario, an entrepreneur has an idea for an opportunity, but they need our unique skills – our design thinking skills – to solve the problem, realising it so that they can: monetise it, take it to market and realise a profit.

  • The client pays us £10,000 to solve the 'golden goose' problem.
  • Using our imagination, creativity and design thinking skills we create a golden goose.
  • We transfer the golden goose and all of its attendant intellectual property to the client, as stipulated by the contract we signed.
  • The golden goose lays a golden egg, worth £10,000, and then it lays another and another and another…. ²
  • Our client buys a Ferrari and retires to Malibu. We, meanwhile, look for another client to pay us to solve another problem.

I'm sure you see the problem with this scenario, so I'm not going to labour the point. We can change this situation, and changing it is The School of Design’s purpose.

If we learn about the power of design × business – multiplying design thinking and business thinking – we position ourselves to retain the value we create. Our mission is to share this message, empowering designers.


¹ I need some kind of system for keeping a track of pages versions and / or history. This page, e.g. was last updated on 30 June, 2020, but it was first created (outside of Notion) in ~January (or, in a notebook, in 2019).

There needs to be some kind of system for at least tracking first and last pubdate.

² If metaphors aren't your thing, replace 'golden goose' with The £10,000 Machine, a machine that generates £10,000 every time we operate it.

Sell Value, Not Time
Sell Value, Not Time


Since writing this, a number of other first principles have emerged. My plan is to expand this into an overview page and then link to specific pages. Principles we need to cover, include the following: • Sell Value, Not Time: (This needs a separate page, Principle 1.) • The £10,000 Machine / Golden Goose Principle: This page, Principle 2. • A. N. Other: Principle 4.


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