The Why Matters

Mark Cameron
Jul 15, 2017 · 3 min read
Complex projects and collaboration

What makes you excited? What drives you on to make it through a long and complex project? Is it a great leader who inspires, a fantastic team, an awesome idea or all of these? I’m a fan of Simon Simec. I believe that what makes you a desirable member of a team who creates things is that little glint in your eye or slightly upturned smile that comes across your face when someone asks “what do you do”. In the story you tell, the passion you feel for a project is easy to see. However, if you are not inspired, consider the job a grind, your shoulders slump and your rhetoric is strained. Same old same old…

I just had a meeting with a genius. The things he has created to tell a story of a project’s success and failures has just blown my mind.

What I saw, wasn’t borne from someone else’s request, but from a deep seated need to understand what’s going on.

And not just a snapshot in time, but a snapshot over time. His main concern with the things he developed was that he only had baseline data for the things he worked on. He could clearly imagine how powerful his understanding would be if the baseline data-set was huge. The four giant projects that he had worked on were showing signs of trends. Certain elements were always performing the same way. However, with a data set of four, how can you prove that the trend holds true over time? Can you test or implement changes and test again without mechanisms to capture the data in the same way?

He was immensely proud of his work, I was incredibly moved by the obvious effort that he took to create this masterpiece. However, he was despondent at the same time, no-one, or not many of his colleagues adopted his test methods, or management style. It is hard to ram ideas down colleagues throats, its true, but the inherent good of the system has to be broadcast to the greater teams if there is clear benefit to using that system. Whilst a system may be hard to understand, the benefit over time is what matters. Understanding that some processes are there not to break your balls, but to provide a mechanism to learn, develop and change is the story that must be told.

One Design Manager I’ve had the privilege to work with has an incredibly unique way of story telling to the team. Often quoting the plot lines to Dr Who episodes and relating that to the project, he provides the guidance of why we are doing things the way we are doing them. And that’s important.

Dr Who — Heaven Sent (2015)

Questions we may ask is why are we submitting a design when it’s not quite ready? Why are we not worrying about x or y? Without the why our teams tend to be miserable. They are miserable because they no longer believe in the why. Because there is no why, only do.

What I’m attempting to say, is the Why matters. It’s important for all of us to focus on our tasks, and if we love what we are doing, our quality of work improves. The why ties us together, to act as one to the benefit of others. The why gives us the glint in our eye and the smirk in our smile.

Thanks for reading my thoughts on the world, and if you liked this story please consider sharing and start a conversation. Also, let me know by clicking the little love heart.

Work should be a fun adventure that challenges us to solve problems and make things.

Mark Cameron

Written by

A civil engineer with a passion for the practical, a love of the unreal and appreciation of art in the school of life.

Work should be a fun adventure that challenges us to solve problems and make things.

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