Doctor’s Note – Issue 19 - The Shape of You
In this issue: New home for Power of Ten / Finding the shape of you / Boiling the Ocean redux / How to Future discount / Book Corner / The Linkhole
My Power of Ten podcast has a new feed
As you may have seen if you follow me on LinkedIn or Twitter I have moved my Power of Ten podcast off of the This is HCD network and to a different podcast host. It was a knock-on consequence of deciding not to be part of This is Doing.
If you haven’t heard my podcast, give it a try! If you were previously a subscriber, the old feed won’t be updated anymore so you might want to unsubscribe there and re-subscribe to the one with the blue artwork above. All the podcast service/app links are on Power of Ten’s Audioboom page. I really appreciate any ratings or reviews on Apple or Google Podcasts, too. They nudge the algorithms that helps others find it and know that I’m not just speaking into space.
Coming up in the next epsiode is my ex-colleague, Tanarra Schneider, now Head of Design - Midwest for Accenture Interactive talking about leadership at scale, social justice and more. Stay tuned for that one and many more excellent guests.
You can find the old episodes in my archive.
Finding the shape of you
Needless to say, asking everyone to re-subscribe to a different feed for my podcast rather than seamlessly moving subscribers and past episodes to a new podcast host wasn’t my choice, nor the human-centred one. I won’t go into the details of why I left This is Doing and This is HCD, but let’s just say that conscious uncoupling isn’t possible if the other party is hell bent on a bitter divorce.
There are, however, some useful lessons to be learned, especially for those of you who are taking your own journeys into Design Leadership or independence. Plus it gives me a second chance to quote Ed Sheeran.
The first three lessons are short:
Own the platform you publish any of your creative output on.
People who tell you “this is all about trust, we don’t need anything in writing” are the very people you want to get something in writing from.
Do your inner work, otherwise you inflict your complexes and traumas on those you live and work with.
The fourth lesson is about being clear about the shape of you.
I’ll never say never to a permanent gig again, but I left a full-time job at Fjord, because I wanted to be my own person and master of my own destiny again. Josh Seiden summed it up best in a note to me recently (quoted with his permission):
I tell people that there have been four phases to my career:
Fit myself (I think I’m a square peg) into a a round hole.
Look for a square hole. Try to make myself squarer.
Realize that I’m a josh-shaped peg. Look for josh-shaped holes.
Make my own damn hole.
Moving into a leadership position, whether inside an organisation or starting your own venture, has an awful lot in common with moving into the second half of life, something that Jungian psychoanalyst, James Hollis has written extensively about.
A lot of my coachees are moving through that stage of life, but it’s not entirely age-related when it comes to your career pathway. Some come to that professional transition point earlier than others. Either way, it’s really about striving less to become something else and more about becoming comfortable and confident in who you already are and in the experience you now have.
This is Doing was pulling me in a direction I wasn’t happy about and I realised I had made a mistake. So I left sooner rather than drag it out, which would have been worse for all involved. Although it was painful, I feel absolutely comfortable with my decision and the integrity of it. There is no way to be happy if you are trying to re-shape yourself to fit a hole that isn’t you-shaped.
The whole effort of, well, life really, and certainly the work I do in coaching is to discover what that shape is, nurture it, and to develop a sensibility to when that shape is being distorted. Most of my mistakes—including this one—have been because I didn’t trust my intuition earlier.
Letting go of things in life is so much harder than adding more things to it.
Sometimes you have to boil the ocean redux
I mentioned in the previous issue that I was going to give a talk for Dan Levy’s Future of Now series. It’s called Boiling the Ocean: Complexity, Service Design, & Systems Thinking and takes a look at the why and how of tackling complex problems, and which often earns designers the reprimand “let’s not try to boil the ocean.”
The talk was recorded and is now on the Future of Now site for your viewing pleasure.
How to Future discount
Speaking of the future, my Power of Ten episode with futurist Scott Smith remains the most popular one I’ve ever done. In it, Scott talked about the book he was writing with Madeline Ashby about the craft of being a futurist called How to Future.
After a short Covid-induced production pause, it’s due out in about six weeks. If you’d like a 20% discount, order it directly from the publisher and use the code KOGANPAGE20 right at the end of the checkout process. Thanks Scott!
That brings us neatly to the book corner. Here’s what I’ve been enjoying recently:
The aforementioned Radical Alignment by Alexandra Jamieson & Bob Gower.
Another mention for Jeff Gothelf’s new book, Forever Employable: How to Stop Looking for Work and Let Your Next Job Find You, which I’ve now finished and thoroughly recommend, especially if you’re wondering about how to find the shape of you.
Creating a Life: Finding Your Individual Path by James Hollis explores what the title says. This is part of the Studies in Jungian Psychology series, so goes quite deep.
I have yet to start Why Good People Do Bad Things: Understanding Our Darker Selves by James Hollis, but I have, of course, just experienced this phenomenon. Needless to say, doing your inner work is essential to a happy life for you and those around you.
Living Between Worlds: Finding Personal Resilience in Changing Times also by James Hollis. We are certainly in challenging, changing times. Dr Hollis argues that this is nothing new for our species, we have just wrongly assumed “learning, rationality, and good intentions” alone would get us through.
Liftoff! Practical Design Leadership to Elevate Your Team, Your Organization, and You by Chris Avore and Russ Unger is another book I’m looking forward to reading. I’ve had a quick browse through and witnessed some of the conversations on the Rosenfeld authors' list. I’m sure it will prove super helpful for many embarking on this journey.
Bonsai Heresy by Michael Hagedorn. A side-effect of lockdown life was a renewal of my interest in bonsai cultivation, which has taken me down some very deep rabbit holes. It’ll only be of interest if you’re into bonsai, but I do love someone who challenges orthodoxy. Expect more gardening metaphors from me. And if you’re into bonsai too, well we should talk.
Why time is key for the creative process. From Gordon MacKenzie’s Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace (now on my reading list) by way of John Maeda. If you’ve ever been in a design gig where you’re accused of not being productive because you’re taking time to think things through, this is for you. Spoiler: cows take time to produce milk.
Kandise Le Blanc’s Dear White People, This is What We Want You to Do is heartfelt, heartbreaking and informative. You should read it if you’re a white person.
Product Manager Jivan Virdee has started a new newsletter about “three things in tech and science” that have interested her each week. You may enjoy it.
Small crustaceans can fragment microplastics into pieces smaller than a cell within 96 hours, which of course means they can end up in our cells. Oh.
Speaking of which, Courtney Martyn posted an impressive account of the Future of facilitation: digital blueprinting on a global scale (Part 1).
I had a long conversation with Nikola Tosic about the nature of companies, their purpose in society, service design and systems thinking. I did my best to tackle some very complex questions, but probably waffled.
That’s it for this issue. If you liked it, please consider forwarding it to a friend or colleague to sign-up. I really do appreciate all the shares and feedback. If you have a reading tip, reply to this and let me know or tweet me.