Musings on designing experiences & (re)engineering complexity

Apr 2018

Identity and Instinctive Travels

What happens to fall inside or outside of the work to be done might be considered a distraction. As part of building a discipline of activity to define Avanceé and its market value, there’s is a bit of attention given at this stage to following instinct, not just process. Process is not pushed aside, but it is empowered by following the shades of what isn’t so easily defined.

A conversation about workspaces and cadence turns into a conversation on the nature of names, etymologies, and ancestry. Remarked during the conversation, is talking “about ancestry a distraction,” follows within this framing that work must follow some discipline and process. That is, there is work to be done because there’s a deadline which is accountable to it. And yet, the distraction and context-shift was allowed and encouraged. What could be found going down the route of looking at the history of a first name, its connections to colonization, and the affects of such a backward’s facing path on the conversant’s current work?

Anything? Nothing? Everything?

We don’t know what exists on the other side of these travels until we take the moments outside of them to explore, make notes, and then look for the opportunities to deliver something of tangible value — whether in that conversation or in future products.

Stripe talks about an internal product used to enable their company to connect to one another. Was making it a distraction? Probably. Did making it emphasize some things and diminish others as it relates to product, culture, and business? Probably. Was it the right thing to do — it’s likely, as they grow larger (over the 150 persons currently) this would become harder to manage and need to be replaced with a system designed from the outside for a larger company? Probably. And yet, what’s won by following their instinct here is a connective tissue between coworkers across departments which enables the best meat of their work to come forth. Doesn’t mean the internal tool is perfect, nor that the distraction was without several losses in attention towards other areas. It does mean the distraction revealed something in Stripe that was easier to define once it was travelled.

Developing a discipline around what might be a distraction is helpful in allowing you to make the right responses to it. Certainly, there are distractions which invite the wrong kind of friction to a team, project, or company. These should be avoided, or at least planned-for-response as they arise. But, some travels are less predictable, less able to be defined by anything more than being open to seeing old problems with different eyes. What comes from those travels can only be defined clearly once the road has been given some space to get in between your toes.