11 February 2021 — Weeknote 4 — If only I could draw

  • Reduced my work hours even more this week as nursery remains closed (snow this time, rather than Covid). Still so thankful to work in a place where I can be flexible like this and it’s yet another reason I’ll never leave GDS.
  • Fewer hours = greater intensity though obvs and I’m definitely in that place where you hop from one thing to another without being able to fully engage with anything.
  • Reminds me of when I was editing Design Week and was asked what my one piece of advice was for someone who might want to do my job. I said: ‘Just take a decision and stick to it — even if you’re not comfortable with it. You won’t have time to prevaricate and if you get it wrong you won’t have time to dwell on it.’ This is the sort of sage viewpoint that enabled me to keep Design Week afloat in the constant face of closure (and protect multiple jobs including my own) while simultaneously having professional burnout. Swings and roundabouts I suppose.
  • This attitude is also why I now have really conflicted feelings about ‘leadership’ I think. Like I really enjoy it and I think I’m quite good at it, but I also know the damage I can do to myself.
  • Another leadership thought (not sure why I’m on this hobbyhorse but let’s ride it) — why do all senior people identify as ‘visual thinkers’? They can’t all be, surely, but almost every one I’ve worked with seems to be. I’m categorically not a visual thinker — give me a long, well-structured document over a graphic any day. Also I can’t draw to save my life.
  • I imagine the ‘visual thinking’ thing is really a proxy for just never having enough time to engage fully with things (back to my point 1). In my utopian future we’d all have more time, and I could happily plug away on my long — but extremely well written! — articles and documents, to great acclaim.
  • In the meantime though I wonder if there’s a gap in the market for visual templates that appeal to the viewer on some kind of comforting subconscious level. Like ‘the strategy smile’ (the vision statement is the nose, objectives are the eyes etc), or something that evokes feelings of being in the womb. Maybe like the mapping Hurrell and I did a while ago that turned out unexpectedly yonic.
Angus standing in front of a ‘product development’ funnel graphic that looks unexpectedly yonic
‘Don’t take a picture of me in front of this’ (photo lifted from Hurrell’s Instagram)
  • Reading: Girl, Woman, Other, which is excellent obvs — but it won the Booker so you don’t need me to tell you that.
  • Listening: Listened to some of 5 Live’s coverage of the Superbowl and was shocked to discover that while BBC viewers of the NFL get treated to the peerless Osi Umenyiora, listeners have to put up with Vernon Kaye.
  • Watching: Lupin, which is one of those shows that’s objectively trashy but feels quite sophisticated because it’s European and subtitled.

Writing for @gdsteam. Formerly of @design_week

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