Creating Time & Space for Reflection

Our approach is to have many projects going on simultaneously, led by lean teams, that last 3–6 months, and are all over the world. This makes for an always-interesting travel itinerary each year, but it also translates to long stretches when we are physically apart from each other and a pace of work that oftentimes inhibits our ability to take time to reflect on our experiences and to work on our own personal development.

We have always been conscious of the need to set aside time for company team-building trips. This past year was no exception, and many Quicksanders cited the Himalayan trek the company took on as a highlight from 2016, but we augmented the experience a bit. Or rather, we built upon it by adding an additional offsite trip that was more focused and strategic. We all met in Coorg to soak up the verdant coffee plantation sights whilst discussing the state of the organization, and our plans for the future. It was unique in that we applied the same design thinking tools and activities we use for our clients to explore our practice.

Planning Quicksand’s future in Coorg , Trekking in the Himalayas

Spending time physically together away from the pressures and responsibilities of the daily grind is the ideal, but doing so more than a few times a year is just not realistic. We set out to build in collaborative systems for reflection and development, as well as to simply improve and capitalize upon the physical spaces we occupy, in an effort to offset this reality, and to help us make it from one fantastic offsite trip to the next.

We launched a “formal” learning and development program that relies heavily on individual introspection: each studio member maps out the skills they want to develop and we work together to create projects which will facilitate this growth. Each week there is a call where individuals share their progress, and the emergent camaraderie has even led to group projects like The Neighborhood Project where people match their growth needs (in this case, improving photography, ethnography, web design, and interview skills) to collectively accomplish a goal.

The studio spaces have always been important stimuli for us. As a creative practice, we need vibrancy for inspiration; a cubicle world does not cut it. While the Delhi studio has long been the champion of this thanks largely to Neha and Avi, the Bangalore studio spent the past year trying to catch up. A rooftop bar and garden was created and austere interior walls adorned with media and collateral from past experiences. It is important that our spaces feel lived in, homely; our physical comfort facilitates a more productive and creative environment.

Taking advantage of studio spaces in Bangalore, Goa, and Delhi.

Our UnBox platform continued to evolve as well, and capitalize on our spatial efforts. We hosted several small, intimate workshops around themes such as urban gardening, human-centered design, and the maker/fixer economy in our studios, and had fantastic turn-out and support. We continue to explore how to bring UnBox to new settings, and utilizing our studio spaces is the next logical extension.

Co-hosting a maker-fixer workshop with Creative Mornings (left) and leading a human-centered design workshop in Bangalore (right).

There is a real need to make and take time for reflection in all our lives. The daily stresses and responsibilities can overwhelm otherwise, and the value of one’s activities gets lost along the way. It is important to learn from mistakes and to celebrate successes; to see the forest from the trees and give space to the incredible experiences we are fortunate to have each day. Whether through vacations together, improvements to the space around us, or in the processes and activities that shape our organizational approach, we are consciously trying to build mindfulness into all that we do.