Last Time I Wrote

November 30, 2012

A year ago today tomorrow, I started my new job at MAYA. A new career, really. Before jumping in, I did a bit of soul searching about what I had been doing for eight years--the good, the bad, all that. I realized I was a little fed up with how things had been going, and I wanted something different. Articulating what I wanted was not easy, but I put these sophomoric words on my (hastily constructed) portfolio site:

I want to work with people and organizations I believe in. That’s not some idealistic fantasy, saying that I’ll only work for altruistic non-profits that align perfectly with my beliefs. It means I want to work on things that are important to the people in charge. Not just important, but critical. Critical to their business model, critical to the success of their organization, critical to their happiness.

Design is not an expense, it’s not a necessary evil, it’s not an afterthought. It should be treated as an investment. It should be part of the process. Don’t call your designer after you’ve figured out how to communicate your message. Call them when you think you know what your message is, and have them help you hammer it out. If design is part of your team, part of your process, and part of your business, you won’t be left figuring out how to put a face on a message, it will be obvious what shape and form your messaging will take.

Looking back, I'm amazed that I fell into a place like MAYA. There was no moment of clarity where I banged on the table and said "Hey! This sounds exactly like what this one firm in town preaches!" I've spent the last year hearing others encapsulate this sentiment in much more eloquent ways, that's helped me understand what I was trying to say.

Yesterday, we met with a client that we've finally convinced that they need to do something unthinkable for them. Basically go underground with a small team for a few months for a non-project project. To build a foundation which will fundamentally change the way they build their products in the future. To make them better by teaching them how to design and collaborate better.

A year ago I couldn't really picture being part of a small team that's trying to change the way this behemoth of a company works, and even if it was on the table I might not have taken it, most likely out of ignorance. But it's exactly what I was trying to picture last year. It's just taken some time to draw it.