Helvetica NeueTighten the tracking, dropthe bassDigital team | August 2012 | Andy Dobson
This is the last timeYou will have to listen to mybullshit.Thank you for indulging me. IMHO, YMMV, YOLO
The long roadFrom interactive TV designteam to all round Digitalcreatives.
Without further waffleHere are ten things I havelearned
1. Everybody is an artistYou are not your discipline
2. Creativity creepsMoving up slowly
3. Hire people that are muchsmarter than youBut don’t tell them that :o)
4. Stand on the shoulders…But understand how you gotup there and how to getdown
5. Allow it.Beg forgiveness, don’t askfor permission.
6. Technology is a toolkitIt’s also a playground
7. Fail beautifullyFail often
8. Sky is not a meritocracyAnd it’s not your fault
9. Collaboration is the keyAs above, so below
10. Inspire yourselfInspire each other
Thank youFor six amazing years
Kirk out.@andrewdotdobsonandrewdobson.co.uk
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10 things i have learnt

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Collected thoughts about my last 6 years working at BSkyB and more generally about creativity and the art and science of being digital.

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  • Lucky, lucky people. I know that this is all rather self-indulgent, but I’d been reflecting quite a lot on my time here at Sky and the principles which I’d been trying to work to. This is an off the top of my head outline of some thoughts I’d had about working at Sky, our challenges and opportunities.
  • We have changed a lot in 6 years – from interactive design production team, to a fully fledged full-service digital offering. We are miles ahead of the curve in Sky terms but still have much to learn.
  • Go!
  • In the creative environment, everybody is an artist. The very second you introduce yourself as your discipline, you are forever chained by it. A flattening of the hierarchy, dropping of ego and approaching everything as a creative first and a designer/UX/PM/PA/Developer second. Digital is a multi-disciplinary medium and the most effective practitioners are hybrids of all of them.
  • Creativity has emergent properties. It does not arrive, fully formed. It’s teased out slowly. One thing suggests another, suggests another, suggests another. Evolutionary explanation: http://www.quietatheist.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/EvolutionGradient.jpg – just as there is no moment where one colour becomes another in a gradient, so there is no moment where an emergent idea becomes a final, solid one ready to be executed. The creative process moves between shades until the final ‘thing’ emerges. There is a n asty culture in the corporate environment, of selling ideas into one another instead of letting the idea form. Competition, ownership and control by product managers engender a culture where people feel that they need to own their idea solely in order to get recognition. There are too many cyclists :o)
  • I am blessed by my team who challenge me, force me to stay on target and force me to bridge the gaps. Hire wisely, protect your team from interference, give them the space to develop and work effectively, trust them implicitly. If you have hired well, you will be rewarded a hundredfold.
  • One of the surest tests [of the superiority or inferiority of a poet] is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.   The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest. – TS Eliot
  • We often sit around, waiting to be empowered here. Waiting for our seat at the table or the right reporting line, or the right structure or the right paygrade to make things happen. They rarely do. Carve out the space you need. I have never seen anybody get sacked for trying something out. The culture of Research and Development should be something that is the very fabric of your practise as creatives. Try things out, play, experiement, collaborate. Make it part of your culture, not your job description.
  • You know, we are blessed in digital. If we want to FULLY realise an idea, we can do so without requiring budgets, crews, staff, ‘talent’. Designers and other disciplines shouldn’t learn to code so that they can build what they design. They should play with technology as it’s an extension of their own discipline, another tool in their arsenal and a method of exploring the medium in which we work. It’s so exciting right now, dive in!
  • Josh Davis’s talk at FOTB discussed worrying about failing as a symptom of status anxiety. Successful people fail all the time. Failure is rarely empirically measurable. Failure is an indicator of progression. You don’t generally fail at something you already know how to do. If you innovate, you will fail, and learn and grow and this is precisely what innovation is borne of. There is a huge pressure in the corporate environment not to fail, particularly in agile where breaking the code is addressed with immature shows of shame and denigration. This largely explains why their output is so bad. The creative mind fails beautifully and strives to become better.
  • When people ask my ‘why are you leaving’ my response was often because it didn’t feel like it made a difference if I was any good or not. This is misleading, however, because how I might perceive recognition in an environment like this should have nothing to do with my own standards. Most of our frustrations here are borne out of working with others. We say ‘if only we could just do things like this…’ as if there is a magic switch to make a company of 10s of 1000s of people think like you do. We have to work out how to implant new ideas into the business without seeming like we’re in control. The good news is, that’s *exactly* what creative thinking does.
  • Learning to collaborate means a removal of ego from the creative process, and that doesn’t come easily to everybody… ;op With collaboration also comes collective responsibility. Managers should be there to support and nurture you. If they are telling you how to do it, then ur doing it rong. This is where disciplines and roles kick back in. Trust each other.
  • Inspiration is our lifeblood. Do it every day. It might not be everybody’s style to stand up in front of people and talk about what you’re passionate about (although I strongly recommend it as it’s a great way of ordering your thoughts), but send links, talk, explore, try things out, prototype, sketch, blog and argue. Go to conferences, connect to the industry, bring back new energy into the team and share it. Don’t worry about appearing pretentious – some people won’t like it but you’ll be surprised how many do respond. Share your thoughts about your work and your professional and private passions, your ideas and your motivations. There isn’t a lot of vision at Sky when it comes to Digital and passion does, eventually, cut through.
  • I’m eternally grateful for the opportunity of working here and for the support that my team, management and colleagues have shown me. Thank you all. Andy.:
  • Stay in touch :o)
  • 10 things i have learnt

    1. 1. Helvetica NeueTighten the tracking, dropthe bassDigital team | August 2012 | Andy Dobson
    2. 2. This is the last timeYou will have to listen to mybullshit.Thank you for indulging me. IMHO, YMMV, YOLO
    3. 3. The long roadFrom interactive TV designteam to all round Digitalcreatives.
    4. 4. Without further waffleHere are ten things I havelearned
    5. 5. 1. Everybody is an artistYou are not your discipline
    6. 6. 2. Creativity creepsMoving up slowly
    7. 7. 3. Hire people that are muchsmarter than youBut don’t tell them that :o)
    8. 8. 4. Stand on the shoulders…But understand how you gotup there and how to getdown
    9. 9. 5. Allow it.Beg forgiveness, don’t askfor permission.
    10. 10. 6. Technology is a toolkitIt’s also a playground
    11. 11. 7. Fail beautifullyFail often
    12. 12. 8. Sky is not a meritocracyAnd it’s not your fault
    13. 13. 9. Collaboration is the keyAs above, so below
    14. 14. 10. Inspire yourselfInspire each other
    15. 15. Thank youFor six amazing years
    16. 16. Kirk out.@andrewdotdobsonandrewdobson.co.uk

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