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Sunday, July 28, 2013

On Changes and Juggling and Fitting In

Jean Sexton muses:

Working at Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. has been a learning experience for both the company and me. The corporate world and the world of education are miles apart; the worlds of small business and public university libraries are light years apart.

In my new world, I bring different experiences and knowledge to the company. They are getting used to me asking "Why?" I've supervised many students in my days in the library and I am bringing that information and experience to working with our new intern. I enjoy different games than the Steves and I bring those ideas to the company. I have a different style of working and they are learning that I cannot work without some sort of music around. We all learn from each other and that means adapting and changing on both sides.

In my old world, if something needed doing, it was done. We'd buy a resource that only a few students would ever need or use, because those few people needed it. If something would make my job easier, it could be bought. There were people in my department and we'd balance the tasks so that people had plenty to do, but were not overwhelmed. With the budget cycle, we knew there would be slack times when we could catch up. I could focus on one task until it was finished.

In my new world, we must tell ourselves, "Just because we can do it doesn't mean that we should do it." We must ask ourselves, "Who will buy this?" "How much will it cost; how much will it bring in?" "Is there something that we should do that would make more money, please more customers, and not take more design time?" Doing something that takes a few minutes and makes one person happy is one thing; spending several days doing something that makes that person happy becomes an expensive investment. There's no one else to do many of our jobs: I cannot design the games that Steve Cole can or create the ships that Steven Petrick does; they don't do social media or role-playing games. There's no slack time -- the rent is never not due, bills never don't have to be paid, and resting on one's laurels is not an option. Focusing on one task can be costly.

Costly? How so? It becomes costly when I focus on one job to the exclusion of others. I cannot focus solely on the Rangers (our demo team) and forget to tell people about a new release. I cannot market new releases and forget to work on Away Team Log. I cannot proofread Traveller Prime Directive and forget to work on the blogs. I cannot focus on responding to an email from a customer and not answer the phone. I cannot do lots on social media sites and forget our newsletters. I cannot work on our games and forget to supervise our new intern. Each marketing venue has people who only visit there. Each game has its unique customers. Each job has consequences for being undone.

So I am learning to juggle. I focus on setting the schedule for the blogs and getting them set up one afternoon. That way I don't log in multiple times during the week or forget to do them. I try to note when someone else is responsible so I can remind him to do it. I go ahead and notify people when something new goes up on e23. I try to handle Ranger issues as they arise. However, I do roll away from the computer and give myself time to handle some things (like Away Team Log and Traveller Prime Directive) without distractions. That way I minimize the chances of my dropping a ball. I do make note of things that must be done by such-and-so date so I don't get surprised with an unrealistic deadline. These are contained in purple datebooks so I can see things at a glance and go more in-depth as needed.

Sometimes I set a task aside, but leave a visible reminder that it needs to be done. That's so I don't "drop the ball." I still need to make sure I don't focus on something that will wait and lay aside something that won't. Our weekly meetings make sure that we all stay on track with our various projects.

As I juggle and change, I try to fit in. I've learned which tasks I can take from someone else -- tasks they didn't like and so didn't focus on, but which I can do. From over 30 years of answering, "Where's the encyclopedia?" I have learned something about customer service. I don't mind answering the same question a zillion times. As I absorb a task, I visualize a jagged part becoming smooth. That way, I think we'll all fit together better and provide the excellent customer service you have come to expect, the games you want to play, and the information to help others discover them. I hope you stay with us during the trip.