Jeff Smith

The Second Pancake Theory of Design

Good design is like making pancakes. Most times, the first pancake gets thrown away. It’s burned or gooey, flipped too soon or too late. To get to the pancakes that are golden brown and perfectly fluffy, you’ve got to let the first one or two go.

 It’s another way of saying Fail Fast. We’ve all heard those tired clichés about how if you don’t fail you won’t succeed, and how the best thing for everybody is a good old-fashioned failure. And guess what: that’s absolutely true when it comes to design.

The first idea you have is rarely the best. You start with a blank piece of paper or an empty computer screen. And you take for granted that your first several tries will be bad. Or at least not great. And if you want to get to great design, you have to do the bad stuff first.

Let’s say you come up with something brilliant, but the client rejects it. That’s failure, in a sense, but it’s okay. It’s also an opportunity. Getting a fresh look at a project that you’ve already spent hours on is sometimes the best thing that could happen to your work.

 There’s always more than one right answer to a design problem. Even if the creative work rejected by the client was brilliant, there’s another brilliant idea out there just waiting for you to discover.

When you step back and reevaluate, you begin to see other design solutions. And sometimes, you might even like that solution better than the first. More importantly, your client might like it better. Put in the time, trust the process, and let the work speak for itself.

 Interested in better design solutions for your internal communications? Tribe can help.

Jeff Smith

Employee Communications: When stock photography is a bad idea

 

Think before you search. We all know how easy it can be to search Google or iStock and try to find the perfect picture to represent your office culture or even your employees. But nothing is more representative of employees, than searching through a library of actual employees in the actual environment they work in every day. Stock photography is cheap and easy, but it’s not always a great idea.

In this day and age, authenticity is huge. People are able to tell you exactly what’s authentic and what’s not and they may even be deterred from viewing something if they deem it unauthentic. People can spot a model a mile away, and when you try to use stock models to represent real employees, you’re not fooling anyone. That brings us to the top three reasons for shooting original photography. All three of the following benefits make it worth considering the effort and expense of original photography.

1. Building engagement. When it comes to internal communications, we always want the employees to feel engaged, and there’s nothing more engaging than seeing your best friend in the newest issue of the magazine, or on an email, or on digital signage. Chances are, if an employee sees that there are actual photos of real people in the real work environment, there’s a better chance they may engage with that publication, email, or whatever it may be.

2. Creating celebrities. Our culture is fascinated with celebrities, and when you use photographs of real employees, some of that show biz stardust falls on each of those individuals. Some of the time, the employees that work the hardest jobs, don’t necessarily get the most recognition. Shooting original photography gives those employees that are hidden, a face and really brings authenticity to the company.

 3. Connecting employees. One of the best ways to break down silos is to help employees develop human connections with the people in other silos. When you’re able to put a face on a colleague, whether that person is in manufacturing or at headquarters, you humanize them. The ability for someone in retail to see a photo of another colleague in manufacturing building something that they sell, connects those silos. Besides, employees love looking at photos of each other. It’s nice to see who works where and what they do.

 Interested in photographing your employees? Tribe can help.

Photograph provided by Chris Davis Photography // cdphoto.com

Jeff Smith

TRIBE TRIVIA: Translations For Internal Communications

Question: Do most companies translate their internal communications?

Answer: In Tribe’s national research with employees of large companies, 42 percent said their companies don’t translate company communications. Of the employees whose companies do translate internal communications materials, the vast majority, at 85 percent, are translating into Spanish. French was the next most common language translated, at 20 percent, followed by Mandarin (20 percent) and Arabic (14 percent).

For more information about this and other studies, see Tribe’s white papers and internal communications resources on the expertise page of tribeinc.com, or shoot us an email.

Jeff Smith

TRIBE TRIVIA: Employee Communications on Personal Mobile Devices

PrintTrue or False: Employees are unwilling to use their personal mobile devices for internal communications.

False: Although asking employees to weigh in on how to structure mobile communications seems  to be important to the success of such a program. In Tribe’s survey with over 100 large companies, 78 percent of those with successful mobile employee communications asked for employees’ input beforehand.

For more information about this study, see Tribe’s white papers and other resources on the expertise page of tribeinc.com, or shoot me an email.

Jeff Smith

TRIBE TRIVIA: Technology and Collaboration

Concept of consulting services, project management, time management, marketing research, strategic planning.

Q: True or False: Technology completely replaces the need for face-to-face contact in collaboration.

A: False, for 92 percent of the employees in Tribe’s national research on collaboration and silos. The remaining 8 percent believe interacting in person is “not neccesary at all.” Interview results indicated that most employees feel meeting in person at least once eases collaboration via technology afterwards.

For more information about this study, see Tribe’s white papers and other resources on the expertise page of tribeinc.com, or contact Steve Baskin, President and Chief of Strategy at Tribe. 

 

Jeff Smith

Graphic Design: Why Slack Became the Messaging App of Choice For Employees

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Tribe has been a believer in Slack for a while now. Last year, we were looking for a better way to communicate in our office. We heard some great things about a few apps, but Slack stood out for one big reason. Employees around the world were adopting it independently and using it for work voluntarily. That type of phenomenon warrants investigation, so we tried it, and immediately, we understood the hype.

Today, Slack is being used by thousands of teams, from Al Jazeera to NASA’s Mars Rover team. The messaging app has caught on like wildfire. Why? It’s no real secret, but the answer might still surprise you: good design. It’s something that a lot of people take for granted, but it can make or break an application like this. It can be hard to distinguish yourself with features alone. Anyone can have video capability, @mentions, cloud storage, etc. But when you make all of those features easy to find, easy to use and fun to incorporate into a work routine, that’s when you really have something special.

 The intuitive, yet unexpected graphic design of the program is what helps Slack easily adapt to your daily work. According to Andrew Wilkinson, the founder of MetaLab, the company that did the design work for Slack, they initially weren’t necessarily aiming for anything in particular with the design.

 “Figuring out why something is successful in retrospect is like trying to describe the taste of water. It’s hard,” he says. “We aren’t big on process. We prefer to just put our heads down and design stuff, iterating over and over again until something feels right. Slack was no different —there wasn’t any magic process we used”

But MetaLab was using another messaging app, and they saw opportunities to improve existing apps simply through better graphic design. Where the old app would have grey borders, black type and blue links, they gave Slack a “confetti cannon” color scheme. Where the old apps had a loading screen, they put funny, inspirational quotes. In short, their design gave Slack a personality, and in so doing, they didn’t just give employees another messaging app – they gave them an ally.

 The lesson? Good design gets things done. This is battle that people in creative fields fight every day. Companies can’t seem to justify a budget for design because it’s just “making things look nicer” or adding color or a logo, but as we can see clearly here, design has made all the difference in Slack’s success. There isn’t some unattainable formula. It’s the hard work of talented individuals who find real solutions through good design. They understand the trials and tribulations of the workplace because they’ve been there, and their education and background allows them to approach the problem in a different way.

Could your workplace communications use a graphic design overhaul? Give Tribe a call. We know the value of good design, and we’d love to help.