• Mat Smith
  • , Jul 2020
  • - Phaidon

Bruce Mau Know How – Your 3-Minute Manifesto

We all have an image of a more abundant and equitable world we’d like to live in – Bruce Mau is here to show us how to make it a reality

How many times have you set out on your to do list at the start of a day all guns blazing then slowly despair as ‘important’ gets overtaken by ‘urgent’? Chances are, if you’re deflected and distracted on a daily basis you’re never going to get to plan out the next few years of work and home life. What you need is a Three-Minute Manifesto. Says who? Says Bruce Mau.

Who does Bruce Mau think he is to be telling us all this? Well he’s supremely qualified, for one thing. Mau is chief design officer of Freeman, one of the world’s largest brand-experience companies, and co-founder/CEO of Massive Change Network (MCN), a Chicago-based global design consultancy. He has long applied the power of design to transforming the world. He’s been a visiting scholar at institutions globally, and lectures widely.

One of the things he likes to do is to get people in his orbit to write their Three-Minute Manifesto. He explains why in Bruce Mau: MC24, which contains his 24 principles for designing massive change in your life and work.

“For several years now, I have used a Three-Minute Manifesto exercise in our design workshops,’ he writes. ‘”The instructions are simple: ‘Write down what you want to do with the rest of your life in the next three minutes. Then share it with others.'”

“At first, most people imagine that three minutes is way too short to write a personal Manifesto. Once they begin, however, most participants complete it in less time than that. (In fact, when we first started we allowed six minutes, but most people finished early.) Three minutes is long enough because people know the future they want; they just haven’t been asked.

“What is profoundly inspiring when we all hear the results as each person stands and reads their personal Manifesto, is just how beautiful people are. Almost everyone has an image of a more abundant, equitable, and just world they would like to live in, and of how they would like to help create it. People know how they’d like to apply their talent, energy, and intelligence: they clearly see what role they want to play and the impact they want to have. There is often crying involved in the process. The Three- Minute Manifestos are characteristically optimistic, enlightened, creative, inclusive, and generous.

“People are often astonished by their own Manifestos, and by each other’s: they discover a common commitment to creating a beautiful world. Most powerfully, they discover the hidden beauty that was sitting in the room around them. They had no idea, for instance, that Joe in shipping was a poet who is working to save the planet.”

Maybe you’re Joe in shipping maybe you’re someone entirely different. One thing’s for certain: whoever you are, and wherever you are in life you’ll surely benefit from Mau’s own year’s of experience and generous advice. Look out for our new series of stories from Bruce Mau: MC24 in the coming days and weeks.