Values. Work. Money. Doubts — A Reality Check at Studio Rodrigo

Promo for our Lunch Talk at Hyperakt

We were recently invited to do a Lunch Talk at Hyperakt, a social impact design studio that we admire quite a lot.

The broad guidelines were to talk about the intersection of design and social impact, and how it influenced our work at Studio Rodrigo.

Khoi and I thought it would be a good opportunity to share a version of our “Annual Review,” which is a transparent look at our business that we share with the studio at the end of each calendar year.

Our Annual Review talk is a pretty transparent, open, and honest look at how our studio works, covering the history of the studio, our values, and detailed financials. It serves as a way to reflect on a year’s worth of work completed, and to align each year on the work ahead.

Below are some insights from our talk, the full slide deck, and the roughly 40 minute conversation, which is also available on Vimeo.


Running A Values-Led Design Studio: Key Takeaways

  1. Work and People — running a creative business is about these two things, and being clear about what you value in each allows you to have clarity in how you run the studio, who you hire, and what projects you take on.
  2. Detailing Your Values — giving enough definition to your values, beyond grand mission statements, helps you and your team stay accountable to something specific.
  3. Creating Impact — there are different ways to make impact with our creative skill sets, and finding projects that allow you to make impact in varied ways will make you a better team and a more creatively satisfied team.
  4. Talking About Money — speaking openly and transparently about money and how your business works is important to getting buy in across your teams. More importantly, talking about money, work, and life in a specific way is critical to help you and your team achieve not just work goals, but also life goals.
  5. Understanding Tradeoffs — sharing the choices and tradeoffs that you make as a creative, client services business with your team also helps create alignment around your overall mission and vision, and the work you choose to do.
  6. Be Open to Doubt — as studio leaders, it’s helpful to show and share doubt, as it helps people within your team better understand values, motivations, and share in defining the direction of where you are going as a business.