Bringing home the (streaky) baconAngela | August 15th, 2005 | 11:59 pm
So some folks have been wondering just what is it that I’m doing here in Sydney.
My job started just four days after arriving in Sydney, and it’s been pretty much go-go-go for the past couple of weeks. I’ve been struggling to acclimate myself to my new surroundings, new co-workers, new clients and subject matter, and have really had to hit the ground running.
The work I’m doing concerns strategic design consulting, which is a way of saying that we work with groups of people to help them clarify their vision and goals and develop effective communication and work practices that draw on the tools and methods of design. Right now I’ve started off working with a couple of bank clients. One is a smaller scale project that involves developing a communication plan around organizational change. The second project is on a much larger scale and involves helping to build a design capability inside the organization to bring about a more customer-centered focus. The idea is that design methods can help people learn to work together in new ways, to use research and iterative development processes to promote innovation and customer-centered change.
The company I’m working for, Second Road, is run by a guy named Tony Golsby-Smith who has been doing strategic consulting for 15 years with large organizations– both public and private sector. He’s a colleague of Dick Buchanan’s (for those of you unfamiliar with the Carnegie Mellon connection, my boss on the USPS project in Pittsburgh), and they worked together on a project to redesign the Australian Tax system. Tony’s interest is in systems design, with an emphasis on organizational change and service design, and he uses a methodology he calls “strategic conversations” to co-design solutions with clients.
My first week at work I was downtown working with Tony and a group of clients on an accelerated short term project and being inundated by acronyms, IT jargon and bank-speak. My second week at work I attended an executive retreat in Noosa, a resort town near Brisbane. Here are some pictures of my hotel room, rock formations on the drive to Brisbane, and the beach at Noosa:
The conference at Noosa was an interesting experience, as it was my first opportunity to really see Tony in action, leading a conversation with key company stakeholders. I also got to participate by giving a talk about the USPS project. I’ve already gotten a lot of mileage out of my experience on the USPS project, and it seems that many of the themes that were part of our work with them over the past few years are themes that are very resonant with other large companies.
By week three, I was finally getting a chance to spend a little time around the office and get to know some of my new coworkers better. I have to say that the best thing so far about the work is the people, and I’m talking about both coworkers and clients. I have to admit that at this stage I am completely infatuated with the Australians. I find it a very warm and genuine culture. Not so terribly different from the US, but less pretension and very down-to-earth attitudes. No worries, mate. I’m still getting used to the different turns of speech, and trying to keep up with the rapid speed of the banter, but I find almost everyone very welcoming and supportive. Maybe my infatuation will wane with time, but it really gives me a lot of confidence about walking into a room full of strangers and getting to work.
Here is a shot of Nicole, Vivian, and Elise:
And let’s not forget Tim, Tom and Lauren:
As far as Second Road is concerned, it seems that Tim and I could not have arrived soon enough. We are already faced with an avalanche of new projects. I guess it’s a nice problem to have. We certainly will not be bored. It looks like I will be spending a fair amount of time in Brisbane over the next couple of months, so on the upside, I guess it also allows me to get out and see a little more of Australia. Tim and I will be working on different projects for the most part, which we are a little bummed about. We’ve both got a lot to learn, and we’re definitely being challenged, but we already feel like we are making a positive contribution, and that is a good feeling.