CHANGE – A Continuous & Very Loud Noise

A image of a dog barking with the title. Change - A Continuous & Very Loud Noise - Tech?

In many situations, change is the only thing we can count on in any career, project, or best-organized plan. Today’s standards of success will take a different approach than what worked yesterday, and it is going to change again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. So rather than cower in fear, or reminisce about how things used to be, it’s time to embrace change (or at a minimum become respectful ‘friends’) to take advantage of all the opportunities change has to offer. 

How an innovative design and development team functions, or any team for that matter, by today’s standards of success requires a different approach than what worked a year ago. The strategy and goals of an industry’s clients, markets, and customers must be identified so everyone is aware of what lies ahead and the expectations of change to follow. It is up to each of us to outline a new path for ourselves to develop the skills (both hard and ’soft’) for what is needed in a constant transformational future.

For example, does your organization focus on Traditional Media? Digital Media? e-Learning? Marketing? Commerce? Gaming? Is your content going digital?  Have you made the decision to move your website off desktops and onto tablets and mobile phones? Are you a Mac or a PC? Does it matter? Where do your customers/users get most of their information? Has it changed? Well with COVID-19, who hasn’t had to change… and quickly. But there still remains a lot of work for each of us to do. 

Everyone needs to learn new skills to change the way they communicate, collaborate, and engage audiences. Because your users, customers, employees, learners have already changed the way they want to receive information. 

If you want to be viable next year, you need to make the decision to be viable this week. Make it your mission to care, encourage, and support those around you to learn something new every day and become agile in the practice of life-long learning. 

Where do you begin? How do you assess the type of skills required in our current and future digital landscapes? Positions such as Application Developer, Game Designer, Experience Learning Architect, Mobile Developer, Scrum Project Manager, User Experience Designer,  seem to be on everyone’s “hot” list. Where can you find these people? Do you need them? The skills required for these positions— problem-solving, critical thinking, exceptional design—have always been in demand, but are now also essential for a growing number of new and developing communication channels. Many of the positions we hear about today didn’t exist a few years ago, or maybe they did but under a different name. Either way, the big problem is everyone is just beginning—there are no experts—and with technology changing rapidly, everyone is playing catch up, all day, every day. So be sure to share what you learn to accelerate the process not only for yourself but for your entire team so you are continuously updating and advancing your capabilities.

I read this article, a few years ago, in Before & After magazine (founded by John McWade the creator of the world’s first desktop studio) and was struck by something that still resonates with me today. 

“Our industry—the creative field—no longer makes masters. Change comes so fast that everyone is just starting out; skills and entire professions now run a 100-year life cycle in less than a decade. Professionals no longer gain the wisdom or experience of years.” 

From my own professional experience, I estimate that entire professional life cycles are now changing even faster to be closer to every two years.

From my empirical observations and user research over the last 4 years from a wide variety of industries, leaders, managers, and talent alike need to constantly gain new skills. And should strive to have a minimum of “three suits” they are comfortable wearing while having a “best suit” that reflects their strongest skills. To continue doing what we love in our professions we must be agile in our ability to transition from one thing to another and embrace lifelong learning to become more than we were yesterday, and better than we dreamed of tomorrow.

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”  

Andy WarholThe Philosophy of Andy Warhol

The Artists’ Closet: A Play in One Scene from the Weekend

Desk with notebook, iPad, colored pencils, ruler and markers.

A neglectful artist (NA), a woman, walks into her studio to work on some real “art work” for a change, taking a break from ‘digital’. As she tries to organize her studio, she gets side-tracked, as usual, and spots some long lost “friends” in her old cabinets.

NEGLECTFUL ARTIST (NA): What is this? Can these be my old comping markers?

DESIGN MARKERS (DM): Yes… it is us… all of us… you left to rot in the dark recesses of these drawers!!

NA: [whispers] Oh my God… [Then a little louder] Oh my GOD. What have I done…

DM: We thought you didn’t care.

NA: I DO! I have missed you all. Do you still work? Do you still [gulp] smell the wonderful way you did years ago? [Looks around to make sure she is alone, cracks open top of marker and takes a whiff]

DM: Getting a little personal, aren’t we? Why don’t you go find some paper and try us out?

NA: YES! YES! Paper! [Very excited she pulls out all the DMs and looks frantically for paper] Two closets later… she finds it.

LAYOUT PAPER (LP): [seriously]. Well… that took long enough! Why don’t you try us out and see if we still hold ink?

NA: [still looking for supplies] HA… HA! [More come out of the closet]

LP: Come on! Let’s get some color on these pages!

NA: OHMYGOD! OHMYGOD! OOOOOHHHHH! MY PAINTS! MY CONTE CRAYONS! MY CHAMOIS [not to be confused with SHAMWOW] and my old LETRASET RUB DOWN TYPE!

LP: Well, what are you waiting for?

DM: YES… hurry up and get busy!

PAINTS: Yeah!

CONTE CRAYONS: Us first… and don’t forget the Chamois!

LETRASET: Use us! Use us! Multi-media is best! Pleeeaaaaaassssseeeee!

[NA grabs all her “friends” close to her and runs to her easel and drafting board with a big smile on her face.]

FRIENDS: What will you do first?? Hurry, hurry, it has been soooooo long!

NA: I don’t know! I ONLY HAVE THIS WEEKEND!

FRIENDS: [short silence] We certainly hope not. Maybe you should think of this as the FIRST TIME YOU BEGIN!

[NA starts whistling as the worries of the day fade away and creativity springs back into her studio].