Lessons from the Frontlines: Megan Trischler
A while back, I was asked to share a few things I’m learning as a program director at People's Liberty. Specifically, I was invited to reflect on my experience running our residency program for emerging designers/creatives. While we’re still early on in the game, (relatively speaking), the exercise was easy; once I made time for focused thought. Here’s what I’m learning:
Do everything once before asking others to do it
This was a piece of advice given to me by a good friend who runs a similar program in Birmingham, Alabama. She was right; participation fosters understanding. I’m in a much better position to teach if I’ve already run a process or tackled a specific challenge. Doing so helps me better anticipate pitfalls others might face as well.
Hire people smarter than you
I’m continually amazed by the curiosity and ingenuity of our residents. The way they go about their work, coupled with how they see the world, has been eye-opening for me and a good reminder that one can always be learning.
Mediocrity is always in a rush
In a culture obsessed with productivity, efficiency and instant-results, teaching a design process can be challenging, especially when real timelines matter. Still, we try to foster an environment built on “rough-drafts” and “rounds,” encouraging our residents to slow down and remain mindful of the details. Good work takes time.
Lead by example without imposing answers
I’ve never learned from anyone who was dogmatic in their approach. My best teachers have inspired me in their actions, both on and off the job. The most essential quality of leadership is not perfection but credibility. People need to understand that you have their best interests in mind or they certainly won’t follow you. This past year, my role has shifted from a designer who’s delivering goods and services to one who’s creating a platform for others to excel. To some extent, this is one of the trickiest design challenges of all; but also the most rewarding.