Being interested in our work is important. Being interested and involved in things outside of our work is also important. Our Interactive + Innovation Lead, Will Bullock, also happens to be the Director of Membership for AIGA SC. Follow along as he heads to Baltimore for the AIGA National Leadership Retreat.
Life moves pretty fast. One minute you're just an average "citizen" of your local creative community. The next, you're on the board of your state AIGA chapter, and you've been asked to represent South Carolina at the annual AIGA National Leadership Retreat.
This year's retreat was held in the fine city of Baltimore (locally referred to as "Smalltimore") and our gracious hosts at AIGA Baltimore were 💯all the way. I was immediately inspired by the special bond that has formed within their local creatives as demonstrated in their opening ceremony video:
This year's theme was Lead by Design and each general session, workshop and breakout group focused on one of three topics:
A goal of each retreat is to give both seasoned and new chapter leaders an opportunity to engage with our national leadership and empower us with the necessary tools to grow our respective local chapters. I expected Tony Robbins and endless trust-falls, but I got so much more.
The Power of the Post-it® Note
As an organization, AIGA has embraced the IBM Design Thinking methodology for quickly tackling complex community-level design problems. It allows for swift breakdown of "big data" into manageable yet meaningful content; what might take months traditionally can be summarized in 30 minutes or less. It also requires participation from all key stakeholders as each one contains unique information (such as design) that others don't (such as clients).
Side note: The AIGA has released The Designer 2025 Report which states companies who aren't using Design Thinking to parse Big Data aren't going to be able to compete in the business world.
Our national Diversity and Inclusion Committee continues to raise the bar by applying strategic thinking to the challenges faced by people of different color, religion, gender, economic background, sexual orientation, and age. This isn't the old "political correctness" wash; these are actionable ideas that generate opportunities for everyone. One of my personal takeaways from the various D+I conversations was the notion of evolving the typical hiring process. Don't publish a job description for an opening that requires X amount of experience or education. Instead, shape the description to focus on skills and objectives. The applicants then have a chance to prove to you as a potential employer how they can meet those objectives with their unique skillsets. It is my sincere hope that we can make our local creative community an inclusive space.
One more thing: don't stop at workforce diversity; Diversify yourself. The graphic design industry is changing faster than ever before (as are so many other industries). Future designers need to be well-versed in so many more things than our predecessors. If you're a UX/UI designer, learn about offset printing. If you're a logo designer, learn to code. Mix it up, never allow yourself to become stagnant.
Have you ever considered the difference between a manager and a leader? Leadership is defined as the art of motivating a group of people towards achieving a common goal while Management is the process of dealing with or controlling things or people. In thinking of where you are in your career vs. where you hope to be, this is a huge distinction.
The following standards for leaders were shared with us:
Innate desire to make people better at what they do. Extrinsic motivation, I don’t need an award. I don’t need to win. I just want to be here because what we’re doing is the reward.
Your highest priority is to develop trust. If they trust you, they will follow you. If they do not trust you, they will rebel against you.
Rely on your instincts and gift of intuition. Non-verbal clues,
Build confidence by being open to new experiences and be willing to fail.
Be willing to fail, people.
Thanks for reading!