October 2015

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A Life More Local

I’ve been back in the on-the-road consultant game for nearly six years now, and it’s been a blast. I’ve especially loved the last 3.5 of those years because it’s been with the only consultancy I think I’d ever want to work for again, The Understanding Group. In fact, I can honestly say I’ve never felt like a job was “like family” the way I’ve felt that at TUG.

So, it was excruciatingly difficult to wrestle with the decision I’ve recently made: to change my relationship with TUG so I can have a non-travel-dependent, more locally centered day-job.

I’ve accepted a position as Senior Digital Experience Architect at State Farm — a Fortune 50 company that is investing heavily in user experience design, and creating a world-class design division at its huge new hub in Atlanta.

As I’ve been telling everyone I’ve talked to about this so far, this is the first time I’ve changed jobs before I was really ready to leave my current gig. I’ve gotten to work with such amazing people at TUG. I’ve learned so much from every person on the team. The mission, values, and vision that its founders baked into the place are second to none — as are the founders themselves, Bob Royce and Dan Klyn, who are now also my very dear friends. Luckily, we’re already hatching ways to continue an association after I change my full-time employment status.

So, why change? Mainly it’s to be more present, available, and involved with family and my local community. Since purchasing a home last summer in our quirky, fabulous neighborhood, and since some big transitions have occurred for immediate and extended family members in the area, I’ve been feeling an increasing need, and desire, to be on the road a lot less often.

Professionally, I’ve also been itching to work with longer-term challenges that I can shape over significant time horizons, rather than the few months normally available to me as an external vendor.

While I am sad to give up my full-time relationship with TUG, I’m excited about the new gig. State Farm is doing some really impressive things to re-invent how it works with its customers across its many business lines, channels, and touchpoints. They’re not afraid of architectural thinking and doing, and the sort of mindset and approach that I bring from my experience with TUG: mapping, modeling, defining, and aligning, then guiding the specifics of design to make all that understanding into working realities.

And I’m particularly chuffed that State Farm is taking part in the transformation of a key area of an Atlanta suburb into a 21st century mixed-use, urban-style environment, directly connected to Atlanta’s rail system. For those familiar with the politics of MARTA in Atlanta, you know it’s a pretty big deal here to build one of the biggest developments in the metro area as an implicit endorsement of the value of public rail transportation. It also means I get to ride the train to work: something I always assumed I’d have to live in some other city to enjoy.

So, there it is. I’ll be starting with the new job soon after I return from what will surely be a lovely trip to the Italian IA Summit, where TUG cofounder Dan Klyn and I are teaching a workshop and speaking, something we hope to continue doing together in one way or another, as TUG-brothers in mind and spirit.

So it goes, and so it goes.