Bits & Pieces?
Two weeks ago we welcomed our new group of interns. However, we were so busy working with them that we forgot to officially introduce them here. Without further ado, please say hello to Jenn, Bryan, Madeline, Joel, Laura and Kelly.
Jennifer Spelman is a rising junior at the University of Wisconsin – Madison majoring in retail. She loves dancing and performed at a national dance competition in New York City. She even took second place in her age group.
Bryan Padovano is a junior at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design majoring in communications design. He is funny, smart, talented, passionate about what he does and at one point of his life attended a Spice Girls concert. My 10-year old self bows in respect.
Madeline Bok is also a rising junior but at Marquette University studying advertising, Spanish and graphic design. She wants to be Nick Pipitone when she grows up. How could we not hire her?! Or maybe that was her strategy to get in.
Joel Rottier is a junior (senior-ish in his words, whatever that means) majoring in graphic design with a background in strategic communication at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. He is a night owl who believes that I have unlimited supplies of chocolate and sticky notes, which might or might not be true.
Laura Moorhead is a junior at the University of Minnesota Twin-Cities. She started her college career as a interior design major but later switched to strategic communication and media production. Laura is a Vice-President of Development of Kappa Alpha Theta’s Upsilon Chapter and, just like other people on the team, a creative speller.
Kelly Warpechowski is a junior at Alverno College majoring in interactive media design. She loves bringing people’s ideas to life. Besides being the president of IMD Adobe Designers, Kelly is also a DJ for Alverno Inferno Free Radio. Oh, and I almost forgot; today is Kelly’s 21st birthday. Happy birthday!
Welcome to Jigsaw and OrangeAid.
Yesterday, in the first part of this post, I was thinking it was time for some Business Process Management (BPM) applied to our agency Status meeting. To briefly recap, BPM is a company’s ongoing (or semi-annual at least) equivalent to closet-cleaning, and it allows us to shed unnecessary process rituals in favor of newer, more efficient processes and (ideally) increased nimbleness.
Today we’ll look at a quick and easy way to sort through a process ritual in order to determine if it has the appropriate level of purpose and value or whether it no longer makes sense.
Speaking of closet-cleaning, I think the process of cleaning out a closet offers a good template. Everyone knows (well, I guess it depends on how much Oprah you’ve watched), that there are just a few easy questions you can ask to determine whether a garment should remain in your closet – or whether it should be placed in the keep, toss or repair pile.
- Have you worn it in the past 1.5 years?
- Does it fit/is it flattering?
- Is it the image you want to portray?
Cleaning out a process-closet can be a bit trickier than cleaning out your personal wardrobe though. Imagine that you share your clothes with a group – or maybe even all – of your co-workers. The decision making must involve the whole team. BPM is not easy, but the more we practice the better we can get at it.
So we haven’t had Status in months, but it hasn’t yet been years. It’s not completely forgotten, we still think about it quite often. So in that sense, it’s still a keeper.
Does it fit and flatter? My guess is no. Well, at least it wasn’t fitting everyone. Something about status wasn’t working – too long/not long enough, too many people/not enough people/not the right people, wrong time of day/week, not valuable enough, etc. It was probably all these things! So now we know it’s not in the keep pile – but should we toss it or repair it?
At a very basic level, the purpose of any status meeting is to keep work flowing. In theory, the rest of the week we work independently or in smaller project teams and it’s plausible that during this time we move away from each other. Status is about course correction and being one cohesive business unit. Is this the image we want to portray? I would say yes, absolutely.
So, now we know. We will keep Status, but it needs alterations before it’s ready to rock again.
From this point, it’s just a quick business analysis exercise to discover who uses Status, what each user expects from Status and how Status can be modified to deliver the most value to the highest percentage of users. Certainly not an insignificant task, but much more digestible now that we have a better understanding of the value.
It’s particularly easy to come in and do this sort of closet cleaning/process optimization when you are new to an organization. We’ve noticed that our OrangeAid interns have a unique ability to ask us why we cut the ends off of our ham – among other things. But you don’t have to be an intern or a newbie or even a process-oriented individual to initiate these sorts of evaluations.
The closet-cleaning model is just one way to keep things fun and easy. More important than how you go about it is that you have good dialog about it within the agency and that and you do it. Get in a room, focus on one closet at a time, and start sorting through what works and what doesn’t. Not only does this foster a progressive energy within the agency but it provides the necessary meaning to the process rituals that give each agency their structure and strength.
While reading through the Jigsaw blog I came across a post about our OrangeAid internship program. To summarize, the post talked about our very first OrangeAid interns and their experiences, as well as a couple of “life lessons” learned along the way while working in the crazy world that is advertising. As I was reading through, I was captivated by something that Dan Kowalsky (one of our interns) wrote. He was quoting one of the Jigsaw mentors when he said that “we (as students) were used to thinking in an academic setting” i.e. we think of things in relation to what kind of expected response we will get. He gave a great example of asking ourselves “How good does this document have to look to get an A?”
Well, as someone who is still in school, I can tell you that he is right. At the risk of sounding like my freshman intro to Psychology course, I will say that we are sort of conditioned to think in a way where we behave according to the expected response. This realization really saddened me. What about the thrill of creating ideas just to create ideas? Where does that leave room for strokes of genius or Eureka moments? The truth is it doesn’t. This is probably one of the reasons why the world of advertising is so fascinating not just for myself but for all those who live in it. We live for unexpected responses and push the envelope as far as we can because we can. It is the freedom of ideas and the energy of those ideas that seduces us into living this crazy world.
Sure, the downside to the awesomeness that is advertising is that our work is constantly being edited by clients, peers, and even ourselves. As Dan also mentioned in his post “your work must be tweaked, tweaked, and tweaked some more until is near perfect” because let’s be realistic here, not every idea from your head will make sense on paper (trust me I have tried it). But just because we should edit our ideas and just because we might need to aim for an expected outcome does not mean that we shouldn’t enjoy the raw power of a fresh new concept or bask in the uncertainty of our ideas.
So I guess what I am trying to say is that if you ever truly get one of those “Eureka” moments you should enjoy and appreciate them because that is the epitome of what being in this industry of ideas is all about.
In about four hours the new group of OrangeAid interns will be here and it seems appropriate to show them what they have signed up for. Maybe we should have done that earlier, but as Steve Marsho says “Four hours is a lifetime in this industry.” I guess that can be their first lesson and they haven’t even started.
Here’s what Rox, the hilarious fast-talking bundle of nervous energy that was part of the first team, has to say about her experience with us. Enjoy.
Our first group of interns has graduated, so to speak. *sad panda face*
Dan, Dave, Rox and Kim did an incredible job working on OrangeAid itself: from helping us shape the program to branding it and designing a website for OrangeAid. It was a sexymajestic experience (as they would say) and a true pleasure to work with them and I am sure I speak for every at Jigsaw when I say that we’ll miss each one of our awesome little sponges.
OK, enough from me. Here’s what Dan wants to share (read this is a guest blog post from Dan Kowalsky).
Hello Jigsaw/OrangeAid readers!
It’s a pleasure to see you again. As the new cycle of OrangeAid starts up for the summer (and I have no doubt they’ll provide some sweet content to you guys once their projects are underway) it’s time for me to say an unofficial goodbye. I came into Jigsaw a little over five months ago looking to get my feet wet in the agency world. Before that, I had been plugging away at my academics and working way too many hours as a volleyball coach and a barista. I thought it pertinent to get some experience in the field I may actually be working in post graduation, and boy, am I glad I did.
The people at Jigsaw have been wonderfully hospitable to me, and I’m sure my fellow OrangeAid team members would echo that sentiment. I think it would be fair to call the four of us – Dave, Roxanne, Kim and myself – a fairly green group when we began our time at Jigsaw. Sure, we were bright. We could write. We could design. But what were we going to do with it?
Enter Sue, Steven, Addy, Trevor, Danielle, Jen and everyone else at Jigsaw. To handle an overly rambunctious group like us required a certain measure of patience and humor. They took on the challenge admirably, and provided constant nuggets of knowledge and guidance while maintaining enough distance that we had confidence in building this thing on our own.
I can now walk out of my time at Jigsaw with a better grasp on how the branding process works, from creating a brand identity to drafting a communications/marketing plan and finally executing the strategies and tactics we’ve designed. Not only that, but I’ll walk away with a warm and fuzzy feeling whenever I see future iterations of the OrangeAid program doing great things in the community, knowing I had a hand in bringing the program to life. So to Sue, Steven, Addy, Trevor, Danielle, Jen and everyone else – thank you. I’d like to hope you learned a thing or two from us, as well.
So without further ado, here’s five things that I learned from my time as an OrangeAid intern at Jigsaw. I’ll spare you the technical stuff. You heard about that before. The folks at Jigsaw are experts at it, and I can assure you if you check out the rest of their blog and see their work, you’ll have no question. We’ll call what I’m about to tell you “life lessons.” – things that apply both in the workplace and elsewhere that I will take away from my experiences at Jigsaw.
1. No idea is wrong, but every idea can and should be challenged. - This was perhaps my most striking take away from Jigsaw. During our brainstorming sessions for OrangeAid, there was nothing that was off limits. As the ideas developed, it was amazing to see the wheels turn for Sue, Addy and Steven as they helped us take what was “pretty good” and tweak, tweak, and tweak it some more until it was near perfect. Steven said it best when he described how we were used to thinking in an academic setting. (“How good does this document have to look to get an A?”) That doesn’t apply in the real world. The expectations are raised and the work has to be painstakingly revised until it’s nothing short of great.
2. Learn from people, and allow them to learn from you. - I know both Sue and Steven mentioned that they’ve learned just as much from us as we have from them. If that’s the case, there’s been quite the exchange of knowledge. Each of us comes from different backgrounds with different cultural influences and different ideas. Personally, I was inspired by Roxanne’s fiercely creative style of writing, Dave’s passion for photography and art, and Kim’s eye for creativity and design. That melting pot helped make the final OrangeAid product what it was.
3. Be fearless. - Starting a new internship can be intimidating. As I job hunt, the prospect of starting in an entirely new setting to start a career can be, too. It’s a natural feeling, but to challenge I ask: What is there to lose? If you do the subsequent lessons #4 and #5, and surround yourself with the right people, there’s a very high probability of success. Never be afraid to explore, discover and try new things. I did with Jigsaw, and I’ve made some friends, some great professional connections, and came away having participated in a pretty cool project.
4. Work hard. – Nothing comes easy. I learned this first as a volleyball player and then as a volleyball coach, and became very successful in both. The same applies to the creative communications field (and, I’m sure, in any other field as well). I see the people at Jigsaw pushing themselves to make their work top notch, and the effort shows in the results. Each of us has talent, but it’s not going to grow on its own. Monet went through thousands of canvases and Michael Jordan spent thousands of hours in a gym. Commit yourself to the same level of dedication if you want to be great.
5. HAVE FUN! – Seriously, people. As I move forward in my quest to find the right career path, the people at Jigsaw made something painfully evident to me. Find a place you enjoy. Sure, there will be deadlines, tough stretches, and late nights, but if you find great people, you’ll have a lot more fun and add a lot of great years to your life. Watching the camaraderie, laughs and goofy things that happen, even in the limited time we had in the office, reinforced my need to find the right fit instead of jumping on the first thing that comes along.
To close, I have a message for any potential interns who are considering Jigsaw’s OrangeAid program. Do it. You won’t regret it. To any firm wondering if they should look into Jigsaw to revamp their brand? Do it. You won’t regret it. And to my Jigsaw friends and fellow OrangeAiders. Thanks. It’s been a blast.
Featured Blog Posts
Given two studies on preference for mobile web versus mobile…
Anyone can be creative. Often the biggest obstacle to innovative…
I’m involved in a couple of professional groups that are…