Week 46: Hello from the other side!
“Things would be much better around here if I was in charge!” Sounds familiar? Well … it’s really not that easy.
Hey there, I am Harry, one of the founders of diesdas.digital, a nimble product development and branding studio in Berlin. Besides making rad internet stuff, we also write blog posts about all the funny, weird, frustrating or insightful things we encounter—one for each week that passes, as honestly and transparently as possible. This is #46 and it starts with a confession:
Before running diesdas.digital I was employed at a couple of companies and sometimes I’ve been kind of a dick. I liked to complain. These days, sitting on the other side of the table, I realize: Complaining is easy. Doing a better job instead? Really damn hard.
Bear with me for a second. We gotta set the stage!
Right now we are a small team of seven people and this week has been absolutely packed: Four new projects lined up, a current project in its last stage of development and nearing launch, another one having a bit of a hiccup, a trip to Zurich, lots of meetings to attend and proposals to write, a conference talk to prepare, contracts to sign, as well as office matters to organize, and a meeting with our tax accountant to top it all off. Phew.
For the most part of the year running this company has been surprisingly easy-going … sure, there were more demanding days and a lot of uncertainty, but being well prepared, making decisions based on common sense and smart colleagues usually offset the onslaught of tasks.
This week though I felt the pressure of having to hold everything together, coping with everything that was going on … I was exhausted, annoyed, tense at times and I know how my old me would have reacted: I would have shut down and complained about the situation. Let’s take a trip down the memory lane and also explain a few of the difficulties we face everyday …
Back in the day as an employee I might have said something along the following lines, with great dedication and super convinced that I was right:
We’re tackling too many projects at once, of course it’s stressful. Duh!
The new me, in this new role, instead goes: 🤔
Sure. I agree; one should never compromise on quality and only bite off what one can chew—that’s a given! At the same time we got to keep every person in our company busy and make enough money each month to pay seven people. That is a lot of money (#justsayin) and we’re not even talking about turning a profit yet. So we better make sure that we have a full pipeline of work, optimistically lining up everything in a neat calendar … but projects don’t always go according to plan: clients hire us to solve complicated challenges, so sometimes issues take longer, pile up or overlap, creating situations in which we struggle to fulfill every request, even though in theory there aren’t too many projects if everything went according to plan.
Then you need to plan better! How difficult can it be?
Very. So many moving targets: Projects evolving. People getting sick. Requirements and timelines changing. It’s very hard to plan ahead and sometimes things inevitably get messy. Sorry Complaining Harry, but we simply won’t have the perfect amount of work for everyone at all times, without any stressful peaks. We try to protect everyone as much as possible and you have every right to voice your concerns, but it’s in the nature of a service-based business that things get hectic sometimes.
Simply hire more people then!
Oh my. Several points to consider here: Hiring a new person is a massive commitment that comes with a lot of responsibility and we shouldn’t take this lightly. It also takes a lot of time to find good people. And nobody enjoys coming to an office having nothing to do, so we’d have to make sure everyone has work on their desks: Employing more people means more time spent planning how to fill each day. More people also mean more office space required, as well as new equipment and time spent on onboarding them. There are a lot of facets to take into account … you don’t simply hire someone to free up your time; it’s quite the opposite. Even more so when you’re a small team.
Whatever, I would do much better if you let me!
Really? Or are you maybe just enjoying this role of making seemingly smart comments without taking matters into your own hands?
Anyhow, I think you get the idea … back then Complaining Harry would have dismissed most of these explanations, while these days I have a better understanding of what it takes to keep a company running smoothly. I can only speak for myself, but this whole year has been one hell of a journey in terms of professional growth and seeing matters more nuanced than before, stepping up to the responsibility coming with this role.
Ultimately others need to judge wether we’re doing a good job, but we try very hard to make this company an enjoyable and safe space, which allows everyone to do great work without too much pressure.
So to conclude, let me quickly address three groups of people directly:
- If you had to work with me in the past and you remember situations like I described above: I am sorry, I wasn’t as experienced as I am today and I sincerely hope I wasn’t too annoying. 😙
- If you are currently employed somewhere and you recognize some of these patterns: Think twice before complaining, as it’s contagious. Most likely your colleagues are giving their very best; and yet sometimes you end up in unfortunate circumstances and it wasn’t anybody’s fault. Pull it together and work your way out of the situation as a team!
- Finally: At the end of this packed week I am incredibly proud of our team and how admirably everyone did their job, tackling challenges head on, solving one problem after another, with a smile on their faces, giving constructive feedback and helping each other out. I really couldn’t be happier with our constellation of people right now! 🤗
Alright, we’re about to head into a well-deserved weekend, but before we all go, let’s do some random bullets about the rest of the week:
- Shout-out to the Creative Mornings Berlin team and this week’s speaker Johannes Ippen for starting the Friday with confetti shooters. That’s how you do it! 🎉
- I finally made it to the Third Wave office. 🙌
- Frustrating moment of the week: I tried Zapier’s new digest feature, which sounded really cool in theory, but I got completely lost in their confusing UI. Oh well, getting old. 😑
- Next week I’ll be speaking at #dynfntdy in Munich. Looking forward! 😊
- We added many new gifs to our tumblr … check it out, but come back afterwards, ok? 🙃
- I really can’t think of any more points, but I got A TON of photos left, so let’s see them, shall we? 👀
And so week 46 is officially a wrap!
Have a nice weekend everyone, enjoy some time off and if you have any feedback, we’re more than eager to hear it! Also, if you liked what you read, consider clicking the little heart to spread the word! 💖
your friends at diesdas.digital
diesdas.digital is a nimble branding and product development studio in Berlin, featuring an interdisciplinary team of seven designers, developers and strategists, each with years of experience in branding, interaction design and programming. We create tailor-made digital solutions with an agile mindset and a smile on our faces.
Wanna team up for a project? We’d be delighted! Simply shoot us an email, reach out on Twitter, drop us a message on Facebook, or send us grimaces via Snapchat. We’re also on Instagram and we got gifs over on tumblr, just sayin’. No matter the channel: We’re listening and can’t wait to hear from you! 🙌