Starting out at Third Wave
I started working at Third Wave officially last week, and am delighted to be here. I haven’t had much adapting to do so far, seeing as I worked here two days a week for the last six months. One aspect of working in a small shop as compared to a mid-sized agency stands out to me: here, in a small team that fits nicely into one reasonably sized room, it can’t help but be personal. We share values and common interests – this is how we came to work together. In a bigger team, it is unlikely for the organizational glue to be quite as strong. The glue helps to create a sense of mutual support, which in turn helps to get things done, and realize when things aren’t working. Also, the nature and size of the team combine to make it an open space for expressing thoughts, concerns, ideas, questions – largely as they come up, rather than saving them up for meetings. I’m uncertain as to whether this is possible in larger teams.
Some adjustments have to be made gradually. Becoming familiar with some of the tasks that crop up regularly is one thing, being efficient at getting them done is another. Writing relevant and coherent texts in a foreign language takes practice, and I’m increasingly impressed by how my colleagues manage it so successfully. I have to say I really enjoy the bilingual aspect of work here, and hope that I’ll make more use of the opportunity to sneak German lessons in here and there throughout the day. Another gradual adjustment is taking the reins myself, coming up with plans and executing them (relatively) independently. There is a kind of fear associated with doing this, and this also takes a bit of practice to overcome.
Dorota is our new trainee for VCCP, and we’ll be introducing her shortly. I’m helping out with her training, and have now found myself on the lower end of a learning curve when it comes to guiding a person in her job, figuring out how to best answer her questions, how best to make the big picture and not just the details clear. This in turn exposes gaps in my own knowledge, which is helpful. It’s also an interesting, tricky process, learning how to function on a professional level with a close friend.
I’m also encountering some new, more structured approaches to research. Jasmine has filled a wall with post-its, outlining a business model, competition, and ideas for improvement or ‘white spaces’ into which the business could expand/evolve. She’s used the scheme from the Business Model Generation book to structure her findings. It’s helpful to see information from a business/design perspective, since these are both things I have much to learn about.
Approaches to research
Last week, we were doing some market research for a new project related to stationery and pens. It’s funny how we automatically begin to research these things on the internet, without considering, at first, the option of looking for the products in person, to get a better idea of how customers might see them. At the office supply store around the corner, I had a look at some products, looked for patterns and trends, tried to identify what features make a stationery product good or attractive. I talked to the saleswoman about what products she sells, what ones the customers particularly like, her thoughts about the brand we’re working on. This kind of research yields very quick results, and can nicely complement what we find on the internet to give us a more complete initial impression of what we’re working with.
Stationery is an interesting field for a digital strategist to work in. Perhaps, and I believe this has been said before, we gravitate towards things like nice notebooks and pens in order to balance out our typey-screeny lives with things that have a more concrete, haptic appeal. In any case, I am a massive fan of stationery, and this project should turn out to be really fun once it gets going.