Managing People – Lead with your strengths

Jen Lewin – People Management – How to lead with your strengths and leave the rest to other experts.

Growing pains have been difficult and the biggest issue with growing pains is managing people.

It’s not something I’m great at to be honest and I kind of just want to come in and make my art and I don’t necessarily want, I know that sounds funny but it’s true, to stop and manage people and managing people properly is something of a gift, quite frankly, people who are good at it are really good at it, and you have to commit time and you need to stop what you’re doing and you need to manage them and that’s been something that I’ve had to learn how to do and it’s not necessarily something that’s a natural fit for me but you can’t have a huge studio with a lot of people unless you do that well and I’ve learned a lot I’ve read a lot and I realized it was something I was not necessarily great at and tried really hard to do it and I have a great, great team and everyone’s committed and it has worked, it’s been successful but it’s something I’ve really had to look at.

I’ve read some great books on management and talked to a lot of managers but the biggest resource is watching people, I’ve watched people in business and watched how they manage people you meet, if it’s someone on your team you meet with them at least once a week, you have face time and you need a lot of open communication and that can be tricky for an artist designer when you’re in a space, I’m supposed to stop what I’m doing and meet with my studio manager. I need to do that otherwise he doesn’t know what’s going on and he’s like working in a vacuum and that’s bad so I have to sort of force myself to leave my creative process and sit down with my team and I feel really blessed because my team is good and they love as well, they love what they’re doing.

The biggest challenge for me, and it’s something I’m still struggling with and I struggle with constantly, is collaboration.

I can collaborate with other artists and designers no problem, I don’t have an issue with that, but I’ve had such challenges collaborating with technologists. What I’ve discovered in my own process is that when I allow the technology to leave the studio and be built by engineers who are quite frankly, much better technologists than me, so there’s a lot of reason for me to do this, I find a great technologist and great, you can build this software for me I’ll let you build it for me, it all falls apart.

It’s been really tricky trying to understand why and part of it comes down to the fact that for me and my work, my medium is technology, my paint is technology so when I let someone else control it I can’t play with it. I can’t play with it, I can’t iterate with it, I can’t really control the vision and the outside team, even if they’re the most amazing and talented team, they just aren’t able to produce something that lets me truly iterate and play and that’s a problem when I’m trying to use that as a medium to produce art so this is a big, this might seem like a small detail but it’s like a really big issue for me because things like the pool are very complicated and there’s a lot of technology in that and for me to  have a team that also builds the technology and the art and envision it is a lot, but when we outsource the technology it just completely falls apart, time and time again.

It’s very interesting and honestly I want to use the technology, I really don’t want to build it. I have this vision that there’s this amazing new engineering team that can build it and we can focus on making a truly great interface and focus on the art side of it but it just hasn’t worked and I’ve tried so many times we just recently, my whole studio team, we sat down and said we need to suck it up, we need to build it ourselves.