The Heart of an Agency

This wasn't supposed to be a blog post. This was supposed to be a private acknowledgement to our team of the impact that they have outside of these office walls. Shawn asked if I would consider posting it publicly because, while we often show the pride we take in our work, we don't often get to the impact of these projects that we pour our passion and talent into. He persisted for days and I eventually relented.

Thanksgiving seemed like a good time to reflect on what's really at the heart of our agency ...

Day in, day out, we grind tickets. We take phone calls. We make decisions.

We look at project charts, chat about budgets, review weekly reports. We sometimes go over budget, sometimes on budget, sometimes under. We have relationships internally and externally: usually good, sometimes strained, always professional. 

Projects are released. Sometimes, we are frustrated because they could be better. Sometimes we're frustrated because the client thinks it could be better. Usually we're proud; sometimes fiercely. Sometimes we submit our things for awards. Sometimes we win some. Sometimes we lose.

We rarely consider the impact that these projects have, or what it means to work in an agency.

I was at a mindyourmind summit Tuesday as they considered how their organization can increase the impact of youth voices in decision making (especially with regards to policies that impact them the most). Each person had a name tag and a question/ice breaker, "Ask me about: ________". I noticed shortly after arrival that several mindyourmind staff had "Ask me about Be Safe" on their name tag. 

It was remarkable to hear about the project from their perspective. I overheard a couple of people talk about it. To them, it wasn't just an project - it was an award winning project - one that helps people who are in trouble. Be Safe was recently awarded the Social Good Award from RGD. 

In particular, the young student who was the leader of the youth team of the project was particularly proud. As young person still in school, starting out her career, she is able to say she lead part of a team that worked on an app that won an award for social good. The youth teams that get involved with mindyourmind are typically those who have lived experience with mental health issues. Imagine how the rest of the youth team feels knowing they were part of that of an award winning project. 

We see the warts, the struggles, the stupidity of PhoneGap and the battles with a new technology on a new platform. We get frustrated, we question our process, our capabilities and ourselves.

Yet, at the end of the day, I have no doubt we produced something that not only won an award, but we produced something that has allowed several young people to launch forward into the world with confidence that they may not otherwise have had. 

We need to keep in mind that the things that we do touch the lives of others in ways that we don't always fully understand, anticipate or know about. The people we deal with whether in our various clients, their stakeholders, or even staff and volunteers working at our clients - we're able to positively impact their life, career, stress level and success in work by producing a great product at the end of the day.

I was incredibly proud of our team at that moment, and that opened up reflection on how many other stories that could be collected in this regard. I bet there are 100s of these stories. We will probably never uncover them all, but it should push us to always put our best effort out in our projects.

“People will forget what you said
People will forget what you did
But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
- Maya Angelou

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