Question everything.

Things learned from Design Ranch, pt. 1

Over the last weekend, I had the absolute pleasure of attending Design Ranch, AIGA Austin’s premier event, where we spent 4 days at a ranch 2.5 hours south of Austin.

With no cell service and barely any wifi, it meant that we had to be outside. During the day, I made things with my hands, and at night, I bonded with my colleagues and new friends.

Tomorrow, you’ll see what I made, and what that means, but the story I want to impart on you is one that happened via conversations.

When you mention that you work at IBM to a group of people, there are a variety of reactions. Most are intrigued. What we do isn’t publicized too much, but our methods are, and people are naturally curious.

However, some still have an old prejudice in them. That somehow, someway, the work that is done in an enterprise(or In-House) is somehow lesser than the work they do. One young woman in particular was extremely dismissive when others asked me about the work I do.

Fractal Geometry, Discovered by Benoit Mandelbrot, IBM’r

The image above is a Fractal, rendered into an IBM 100 logo…and it’s a good representation of what I do. I recognize how a system works, and how one aspect affects the entire chain. It can scale up, and scale down, and have many facets. Applying this idea to a business problem for instance could be looking at how a Risk & Compliance ecosystem has many areas for improvement, and how even the slightest of tweaks can improve the environment for business people.

With this in mind, I feel it’s useless to compare the two. The work that I do is on an epic scale, versus the work of most agency work, which is highly focused, specialized, and for the most part, has an end.

That doesn’t discredit the work at all. We all work hard and create good design, regardless if we’re pulling late nights at a coffee house, or sitting in an open office.

It’s just the context that shifts.

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