Bonnie Siegler | Dear Bonnie

Dear Bonnie: Moping in Minneapolis

Dear Bonnie,
I am an in-house designer at a small non-profit that doesn’t circulate a brief or hold a kick-off meeting when it’s time to launch new projects. Since everyone already knows each other, people prefer to drop by casually. This of course becomes a huge problem when we're busy. –

My greatest fear is that if things become too complicated, my coworkers won’t come to me at all because, in the past, each department just took care of their own graphic design needs, and frankly, it was a disaster.

Do you have any advice on how to implement some kind of internal system that’s not too cumbersome?

Moping in Minneapolis

Dear M,

Your initiative here is commendable. You are thinking beyond your specific given responsibilities, past what must be done and onto what can be done. Analyzing (and reanalyzing) your process paves the way for a better work life, which leads to making better work.

My bet is that your superiors have no idea that this is an issue at all. So, rather than just informing them of the problem and thereby making it their problem, I think you should move on right past that and suggest a solution.

I recommend that you create a job request form that you leave in a pile on the corner of your desk. When people casually drop by with new projects, kindly ask that they fill out the simple form. They can even do it right there with you. And make sure they sign it. It should include the name of the project, the ideal timeframe, and all of the specific requirements for that particular job. Having a more complete sense of the work will allow you to plan your time better, which will allow you to be more efficient—which, of course, will benefit everyone.

This will be good for them, too, because it will force the people you work with to recognize and deal with what they do (and don’t) know about any given project. Rather than just giving you a few details and waiting until you do it wrong before they realize what they didn't tell you and you couldn't possibly guess, having a written record of all the details will give you a much better chance of getting it right the first time.

Jobs | February 23