This on the other side of the Cascades from Portland.
I'm currently reading a book about introversion called Quiet. (I'm an introvert of the non-shy variety, but that's another subject for another day.) There is a passage in the book that hit me right between the eyes:
[The Orchid Hypothesis] holds that many children are like dandelions, able to thrive in just about any environment. But others … are more like orchids: they wilt easily, but under the right conditions can grow strong and magnificent.
-Recounting an article from The Atlantic by David Dobbs
I think it's a powerful metaphor on a couple of levels. The first is from my time in an agency where everyone used to get whacked off by the boss-lawnmower. Only the dandelions would come back for more, and it showed in the type of people who thrived there: tough, merciless, predominantly male, egocentric people (who I happen to love). But one of the major reasons I decided to leave is because of the people who couldn't handle the environment but were just as talented.
These orchids were people who later thrived at other studios. They left quickly or slowly, but when they left they invariably found success working in better environments to deal with their more sensitive tendencies. I grew to believe that losing these designers and account managers and producers created an agency that was lacking trust. And lacking humility. And lacking women, minorities and unique backgrounds.
The second level is more personal to my values. The biggest contribution I want to make as a UX designer is giving people who would identify themselves as "orchids" safe passage to their goals. The "dandelions" will make it through this world fighting against any obstacle. But that makes those of us who fight rather hard-shelled. While we are fighting, others are giving up and finding their talents other places.
I'd rather create a nice place for all people to thrive right where they are. I think that's my ultimate value as a person and as an experience designer.
I'm working quite a bit with a development outfit here in Portland named Cast Iron. They developed the Hammer project, and we all decided we liked working together enough to try to keep each other busy. And why do I love Cast Iron? Well, let me tell you:
First and foremost, Zach, Lucas, and team are straight professionals. They are the first local shop where I looked at their first round of static builds and had very little to say. They not only nail converting comps into screens, they interpret the nuances with excellent reasoning. Sometimes I don't agree, but I appreciate that they are not automatons. This trait is rare in development shops and I wish it wasn't.
The ability to interpret and recommend solutions outside of the comps comes from real, live empowerment within Cast Iron. People do their jobs and know when to raise their hands on a sticky point. The decision making in regards to elevating something up to myself or the client is excellent. Everyone there is grounded and able to communicate with clients without non-programmer interpreters.
Cast Iron can scale from large web builds to full web applications. Again, they are pros at interpreting UX into functional product without a ton of hand-holding. It has been fun to collaborate recently on a new version of VOCAT. There were a number of tricky areas revolving around annotating video that have been dealt with better than I expected. They continue to surprise me!
The last trait that I find more important than any other is their integrity. Cast Iron does not sugar coat or sell things that they don't believe in. They say no to things more than most companies do, but it is always in the interests of everyone involved. What you hear is what you get.
I love working with them, and I can't wait to start on what's next.
Some old friends from my Cinco days just launched a Kickstarter for a run of pint glasses with Mt. Hood sculpted into the bottom. Stunning craftsmanship from Nic and the Capozzis. I reserved a pair.
I'm going to use this space as a clearinghouse for anything I want to share that has anything to do with my professional life. I hope it will spark conversations with the people I already know, and maybe a few people I don't.
I believe that humans have the inalienable right to change their minds about things, so I only ask my dear visitors to allow me to be human. Please don't hold my words against me or anyone else.
The Blogathon may not be sexy or entertaining or even focused. But it will be mine! Mwahahahah…cough. Thanks!