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Our idea of the Trim Tab Condition

Our idea of the Trim Tab Condition

“Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Elizabeth — the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab. It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab. Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go. So I said, “Call me Trim Tab.”  -- Buckminster Fuller

Those who know Albatross Designs know how much we love to apply sailing and boating analogies to life. Among those many great metaphors, this quote stands out.  

At Albatross, our ultimate purpose is to effect change that benefits the [Natural] world.  Moreover, the future we aspire to is characterized by a lack of intimidation by the obstacles associated with making “big,” systematic changes.  We believe big changes are possible, and that much of our future depends on humanity’s ability to achieve certain bits of rapid change ASAP. As a design group, we view achieving so-called systemic change among the highest of accomplishments.  

We define a systemic change as a large scale shift in norms for how humans consume, live, and behave.  Our goal with product design is to make the sustainable way the standard way. And, the Trim Tab theory on change makes these types of changes seem possible.  

In large part we have developed our design philosophy around the idea of our “Trim Tab Condition.”  In basic terms our Trim Tab Condition asks whether or not a product can win a focused demographic of people in order to prove the merits of a particular change to the remainder of the people in the world.  This change should be easy for people to make, just like it is easy to move a trim tab. If some people can show the merits of a given change to a larger group (read: act as the trim tab), then we believe we can get the majority of society to follow suit (read: the boat turns towards a better course).  Our plastic free shaving razors, believe it or not, are already exemplifying this. The value is there.

Going forward, we are looking to design a multitude of products that address many areas that need to change for the future health of the planet and the people whom live here.  

To conclude succinctly:  Small Changes Matter! Never discredit the single candy wrapper you picked up from the street, or the plastic bottle of water you did not buy.  And, remember that these small actions can change the whole of society for the better. Do not be shy about teaching people how and why.

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