I Quit : When It’s Time To Move On, You Have To Move On

Today, I took a bold move forward (I hope it proves to be forward) when I handed in my notice of resignation to my superior, the Chief Marketing Officer at Smith Micro Software. I had been with the company for just over a year, and despite the short tenure, I had outgrown my position there.

When I joined Smith Micro it was in the role of User Interface Designer, which curiously was to be part of the Marketing Dept. and not part of Engineering. This was down to the Creative Director’s vision that the software the company sells is an outwardly facing extension of the brand, and should be handled as such. By people that know branding. Which engineers do not. Even though it made perfect sense in theory, it was a little odd at first to be designing software in an environment otherwise known for creating direct mail and web sites. As a new department, or more correctly, a new team within the existing Marketing Dept., there were some teething problems but the two of us in UI/UX Design quickly fell into our roles.

Times were good. Exciting. The future looked interesting with lots of new possibilities.

Then things changed, and not for the better. New team members came on board, old team members were gone, and the dynamic of the team changed drastically. Gone were the chaotic, loud and crazy moments. Gone was the sense of collaboration and camaraderie. And gone was the personality of the team.

I’ve always thought a creative team should be greater than the sum of its parts. All individuals should band together and feed off of each other, ultimately sharing and pushing each other forward. And it’s really up to management to foster this kind of environment. By staffing their department, managers and team leaders really need to consider the personality makeup of their team. A good, happy, involved and collaborative creative team is far better as a unit than a few highly skilled, but otherwise dull hermit-like individuals.

I worked as a freelancer at a large advertising agency that had a great number of other freelancers in the interactive department. The Senior Multimedia Developer was an open and sharing Flash-master who knew that bringing his team up to his standards was to the benefit of the team as a whole. He also brought on an associate of his who was far less skilled than every other member of the group, an affable chap named Jonny. Why would someone so skilled as the Senior Developer bring on to his team someone as limited as this? His words, “Jonny is good for morale”.

And it was true. Jonny was one of those guys with a magnetic personality, an endless supply of sayings and witticisms, and and all round nice bloke. The mood of the team was rarely down even during tight deadlines ans high stress. There was always joking around and banter and FUN. I would argue everyone was more productive thanks to the good spirits of everyone there. I doubt all of this can be attributed to Jonny’s good nature, but it certainly was a contributing factor that helped keep everyone loose. A good move by the team leader bringing him on.

So whilst I leave my old team mates behind, I wonder how long they will survive in that dull, corporate environment. They may be behaving (what they believe to be ) ‘professional’ But does professional necessarily need to be mutually exclusive from fun. Or even enjoyable. I don’t think so.

What are your best and worst creative team moments? Leave a comment below.

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2 Responses to “I Quit : When It’s Time To Move On, You Have To Move On”

  1. UPSLynx says:

    Best? While it wasn’t creative, I’d say when Icrontic went to E3 in Los Angeles last summer. It was our first trip to a major convention as a website (I had done SIGGRAPH and others so many times before). One late night we were all in our crappy hotel room just south of downtown discussing the direction of the website. Our editor in chief explained that if we continued this course, if we all focused and gave more effort to writing, this gig could become an actual job for all of us. We all began bouncing ideas off of each other, figuring out our next moves, and what kind of strides we needed to take to raise the site to the next level. Being an online community, we aren’t physically together very often, so that was one of those lightbulb moments that really gave us drive and defined what we were doing. It was a night that changed everything.

    Also with the best – working on our short film The Man Who Knew Nothing, summer of 2008. Myself and my two colleagues just love making films, so this was our chance to be inspired by each other and to develop our passion together. As I worked on VFX shots for the film, they challenged me with big ideas, and as I moved towards learning and accomplishing those ideas, the collective excitement became infectious, and it helped us all to keep pushing ourselves to do our best work. We never let each other slow down, and the result was an incredible project that stretched us all to our limits, and produced a fun project that we’re all proud of.

    Worst? When I worked at the cinema years ago. I liked the gig, but it was a corrosive environment. A young, naive management staff that didn’t care about its staff caused nothing but bickering and resentment. The leadership ruined that job for me.

  2. influxx says:

    Thanks for sharing your stories Bobby. I love that. The sense of banding together and striving for success as a team you describe with Icrontic reminds me of my days at a DotCom startup in 2000. Great camaraderie, great times. Of course we all know how that turned out 😛

    Even as freelancers and solo designers, I still believe that no man is an island and we can achieve far greater things when we work together than alone.

    It’s also interesting how bad management can have such a drastic effect on the work environment. Good leadership is crucial and often very hard to find. I hear stories like your cinema management more often than I should.

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