Late in the afternoon on 17 June 2013 I opened up a Google Doc and started typing. I can relay this precise date because that’s when the document was created. The version history tells me I did a couple of versions that afternoon.

I had reached a point in my career where I was wondering what I wanted to do next and what I could do next. Do I keep on with an “official” leadership role? How much would that be management, how much would that be coaching, how much would it be practicing? How do I set up and be focused on what I want to do next – and how I go about it? And then how could I do that?

A little brain dump later, I had the following guiding principles:

  • I design, make, deliver, and manage things – ideas, products, systems, teams, whatever’s needed – that connect, engage, and tell stories, mostly with a digital slant but all rooted in the modern, everyday world.
  • Solve real world problems by making real world things for clients.
  • Put the client’s business, and the client business’s success, at the heart of everything.
  • Think where is the client now, where will the client be next?
  • Embrace research to produce remarkable insight.
  • Be strategic, be a problem solver.
  • Make people think afresh, to reset agendas.
  • Experiment, challenge convention.
  • Produce appropriate work, effective work, even brave work.
  • Create things for clients that will be wanted and will be loved.
  • Achieve through collaboration: with clients, with partners, together.

Looking back at those original principles some were grounded, some aspirational, but all fine. Out of my head and down. They’ve changed a little over the years (defluffed them), but the core of them remains.

Seven years on I was mulling these over during the summer just gone. I had a feeling the last several years I had just trundled along. I don’t think I took much satisfaction from the work I had done. I had tried to be professional, but I felt like an actor: I had turned up and performed the role. So I went back to my guiding pricniples. And started again. Who am I? What do I want to do? What can I do? I mapped out a lot of this too. Stuff I want to do, stuff I want to not do.

I recently attended a session ran by Paper where they talked about publishing their business’s founding principles and it pushed me to hone my revised guiding principles so I can share them too. This is how I like to work, this is how I want to work. This is how I will hold myself to account, and this is how I will hold the work I am involved with to account.

So, now anyone can view my guiding principles for working.

They might change in the future. I might have missed something. Something might need refining, to be clearer. These are a version 1. ANd I am happy they are out there.

Original source – Simon Wilson

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