One month into a new job, and wow there’s a lot to keep up with. It never seems easy to ‘move on’ from one role to another. The decision to jump ship and ride the crest of the wave into the unknown is a leap of faith I, for one, have struggled with for a long time. Take a look on my LinkedIn page, and my CV, although I would say is fairly well-rounded, will prove that I am very much one of the ‘stayers’ when it comes to employment. 11 years in the previous company, but with a step of 3 changes within, is surely enough to demonstrate my love of stability.
But the move from a large IT managed service operation to a significantly smaller digital design company in a field of IT which, really, I’ve barely touched upon in my previous employment was certainly a leap of faith (possibly more for my new employers than me!!), but one I had to grab with both hands outstretched. The shift in model is daunting enough, and with the learning curve and challenges far removed from the safety of a large, closeted operation, you really do discover what it means to be a significant member of staff.
I was having a reflective moment today, dog-tired from the constant mental strain of my brain, so decided to note down a few observations on what it’s like to make this change, and how I think it’s helping motivate me to heights I don’t think I would have done without it.
1. Be ready for anything: anything can happen
The day I started, we had just secured a new project (“maybe I don’t have to do as much work as I’d thought” I foolishly thought…). Within the first few days, I had written the scope on an Apple Mac – this from a lifelong PC boy was a massive challenge in itself – learned more than I ever thought I’d need to know about website design, and discovered Adobe Comp is great for Wireframing quickly and efficiently.
We relaunched our website, updated all our Social Media pages, and stood in the cold for 1/2 an hour when the fire alarm inconveniently went off (note to self – leave coat on the back of the chair at all times!). We even received a visit from our new CEO (Canine Executive Officer) Hugo, who gee’d us all up, gave us all a damn good licking and displayed a rather unfair favouritism for Olaf above the rest of us. Suffice to say, I learned very fast that this won’t be a ‘sit there and do the same thing over and over again’ role. And that’s the beauty of this kind of organisation. The variety in our business means we are constantly pushing things forward, trying something new, not resting on our laurels while the world passes us by. The challenge is to keep this momentum going!
2. Design is only the half of it
Design is key (it’s in the company description for crying out loud). Without it, where would we be, of course? But it’s not all of it. The technical development in the back-end is insane. Obviously, all you techies out there will be fully aware of the dog-work that goes into development, especially when designers start getting creative, coming up with more innovative UI and UX designs, but the functionality isn’t necessarily ‘out-of-the-box’. It is still amazing me, on a daily basis, the way an idea can become a reality due to the expertise of the guys on the frontline making it happen. What our developers do for our business can be quickly and easily discovered in the apps and sites in our Portfolios section: the results of the combination of great design, and clever development, joining as one.
3. Teamwork is everything
When you work in a large company, sometimes it feels as if you can blend into the background quite easily. Corporate can certainly be efficient, but the (mis?)apprehension of being a small cog in a large operation can make your work seem isolated and silo’d. Not so in the creative industries!
Communication and conversation are paramount. Yes, you can sit there and get on with your part of the bigger picture, but it’s through constant collaboration. That, of course, is the key point of Agile, as anyone who follows the methodology will know. Small, iterative processes actually get far more done. Who’d’a thunk? The constant updating means everyone is in the loop, we all know where we stand and what we need to achieve. It takes some of the stress out of looking at a huge task and wondering how you’re going to hit the target. The ability to be able to ask a question, knowing someone will have the answer, rather than struggle along on your own, makes it faster to achieve your goal and move onto the next one too. This is translatable to our clients too. Because each project is shaped by the communication involved, if there is a question, we’re only a quick call or message away from providing the answer.
4. Creativity breeds creativity
I’m more creative than I thought! The buzz and interchange of ideas is boosting my interaction with my own creative core. I believed it was long squeezed out of me through constant suppression by corporate constraints. It’s quite a pleasure to wake up in the morning and know that you don’t fully know what you’re going to come up with next. The self-starting nature of the business means you are constantly evolving what you do and how. Thinking of various avenues to explore to resolve a problem helps the creativity flow. Innovation by design seems to be a key concept, which works well with standard creative methodologies. Where my colleagues are coming up with resolutions to the projects tasked by our Clients (in other words, doing their jobs!), so it’s been inspiring me to review where we go and how we approach things like: media marketing and utilising our social media for new business; reviewing the processes in place for Project Management and considering how best to apply my reading and understanding of developments in these processes that are happening out in the real world; and even “Can I interfere in what the others do and maybe make their lives a little easier”? Maybe they’ve unleashed a monster here? We’ll have to see what they come up with.
5. Let Music be the food of love
Last point: We need a new radio. Preferably one that more than one person knows how to turn on. Seriously. Anyone got one going spare…?