Megan Deal is a program director at People's Liberty where she oversees our residency program. Apart from regulating the use of Helvetica™ and endeavoring to brew the perfect cup of coffee, Megan is in charge of molding the minds of our budding designers, storytellers and social gurus. She was recently asked to capture some of the lessons she's learned so far in her role with PL. Megan shares a few of these lessons with our readers below:
Lesson: 001 – Do everything once before asking others to do it
This was a piece of advice given to me by a good friend who ran a similar program in Birmingham, Alabama. She was right; participation fosters understanding. I’m in a much better position to teach if I’ve already run a process or tackled a specific challenge. Doing so helps me better anticipate pitfalls others might face as well.
Lesson: 002 – Hire people smarter than you
I’m continually amazed by the curiosity and ingenuity of our residents. The way they go about their work, coupled with how they see the world, has been eye-opening for me and a good reminder that one can always be learning.
Lesson: 003 – Mediocrity is always in a rush
In a culture obsessed with productivity, efficiency and instant-results, teaching a design process can be challenging, especially when real timelines matter. Still, we try to foster an environment built on “rough-drafts” and “rounds,” encouraging our residents to slow down and remain mindful of the details. Good work takes time.
Lesson: 004 – Lead by example without imposing answers
I’ve never learned from anyone who was dogmatic in their approach. My best teachers have inspired me in their actions, both on and off the job. The most essential quality of leadership is not perfection but credibility. People need to understand that you have their best interests in mind or they certainly won’t follow you. This past year, my role has shifted from a designer who’s delivering goods and services to one who’s creating a platform for others to excel. To some extent, this is one of the trickiest design challenges of all; but also the most rewarding.
Stay tuned. Many more lessons (from Megan and the rest of the team) to come.