Weeknotes Week 045

This was a big week for us, as it's the first of 2010 that everyone was in one place at the same time. Justin was over from Boston so we took the opportunity to have an all day retreat for HDL. What do you call these all-day-meetings-in-another-place? "Retreat" seems like the absolute wrong word. It's about pushing things forward! I'm reading Michael Barber's Instructions To Deliver at the moment wherein he uses the term "away day." We might steal that term. We also welcomed two more Sitra people to the team on a part time basis and are waiting on some internal figurings-out before we officially welcome two more beyond that. Oh, and we hired our first intern, Seungho, to start next week. All told, that's a 83% increase in team size in a single week!

Marco spent Wednesday in London where he attended approximately 176 meetings in a span of only 6 hours while the city ground to a halt under a light dusting of snow. Apparently those meetings went well because we've now added two more names to the studio rosters. Today we finally secured our 3rd studio lead. This probably seems totally abstract given the lack of details about HDL on this site at the moment, but trust me that it's a big milestone for us.

With this growth come some key questions: how will we share files and data? Sitra has in-house systems but they're not necessarily geared towards the sort of work we need to do, nor the style in which we work. Seems like this is one of the challenges of an 'internal startup:' deciding how much of your parent organization's standard process and tools to adopt and how much do you rethink. I spent a good chunk of Friday researching CRM tools that will let us manage a list of invites without sacrificing experience quality on either the recipient or admin sides. Still undecided but so far I am not convinced by any of the options. For general coordination issues we will probably end up in Basecamp, but I'm still looking for better options.

We spent a good bit of time in front of the calendar moving post-its between little boxes. Things are a little more solid there, but it's a very ambitious time line we have set up. The idea with the home-printed calendar was to just write on it with pencils and plot a new one when it got too messy, but instead post-its are seemingly unavoidable. The next iteration will need bigger boxes that fit more than one post-it (of different colors)!

Justin's taking over primary responsibility for the Challenge Briefings and he'll be working with Adriel and Ezra over the next couple of weeks to get that content into shape. I spent a couple days editing and reorganizing the Briefs so that they're happily three of a kind and ready to enter this final phase of writing and editing. Now that we've been working on this content since last September it's starting to feel like we are developing a new sort of document. It's not an essay, not a manual, not a historical review, not an atlas, not a summary... the Challenge Briefing is somewhere between all of those.

Just got off the phone with Helen to make final plans for her time in Bangalore. She's heading there to spend two months with the Daily Dump, helping them with their work while simultaneously creating a documentary about their recycling efforts. At HDL we've been exploring the idea of an "embedded designer" that brings design muscle into a needed context by embedding themselves within a host organization. While that's not quite the case here since Daily Dump is run by a group of awesome designers, it's still an interesting experience for us as we learn the ins-and-outs of supporting other organizations and working in collaboration with them. Eventually we would like to be sponsoring designers to work within ministries and other governmental silos but we're still working on a reasonable path forward. The hypothesis is that a little bit of design expertise in a completely devoid context can go a long way.

At 11pm on a Saturday the day ends after a quick conversation with Constructing Communication about getting their help on turning the Briefings into beautifully designed documents. But I've Saved the best for last: a quick review of the updated site design from Rumors – lest the excitement of this new file in my inbox keep me from sleeping!