Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ack, management!

After two-plus years, I am finally facing the conflict between being the creative director and a middle manager at a state university. It is, to say the least, not a comfortable position.

We have developed a culture in my office that has nothing to do with clock-punching. We are around during standard business hours, and we get an incredible amount of really good work done. Our designs are among the best I've ever worked on; our web development will set new standards for the kind of university we are. And despite all of this, I face occasional pressure about making sure we are in the office when we are supposed to be. From an administrative standpoint, I guess I understand the problem--the bean-counters worry that we might be abusing our latitude.

And here's where the culture clash really comes in for me. I have yet to know a good, dedicated creative who blew things off. If you get into this business, you do so because you give a shit about details and you get off on producing good work on deadline. It's just a part of our character. We go the extra mile in part because creative work rarely happens only between the hours of eight and four. Oh, and most people in this business do what we do because we like it.

So where does this leave us? I like where I am right now, and I like my team. I'm not looking for another job, and I don't want them to either. The trick will be continuing to navigate an institutional culture that is at odds with the design culture we have developed in the office.