Frequent travellers, or those that have moved jobs a lot, know that the outsider sees with fresh eyes, but only for a while. I recently opened a Dezeen column with a favourite thought from John Le Carré (via Rosecrans Baldwin)
“John le Carré said the only way to write about a place was after visiting it for a day, or after a long life once you'd moved there … Time between those two lengths didn't lend more certainty, just detail.” (from “Paris I Love You But You’re Getting Me Down”, by Rosecrans Baldwin.)
With this in mind, I should've written more at the end of my first day. But I did decide to write some thoughts on where I thought Fabrica could go within a few months of getting there (of course, I'd been thinking about it for weeks beforehand too.)
In effect, I wanted to produce a draft vision and strategy for Fabrica (there wasn't an existing one, as it happened.) I also, as with the Handbook, wanted to produce it in collaborative fashion, as non-hierarchical as possible. So it emerged from conversations I'd started with staff and researchers from day one, with each conversation recorded via me—and sometimes them—drawing it out on a piece of A3, which were then stuck on the wall (I wrote more on this at Medium.) Of course, some strong patterns started to emerge. This was conversation made visible, tangible through scribbling.
After a couple of months of this, I distilled some of those thoughts, with some of mine, into a basic book I designed (quickly; be gentle) and left blank pages, questions etc., printed it up and handed it to staff and researchers. I added a few scribbles to the book, to encourage people to do likewise, and gave them a few weeks to return them.
The book—around 90 pages—had many words, which I won't share here. Some of them don't apply any more: others were exporatory or half-formed, no more. While many still apply, the book was not made for posterity: it was a token for a conversation about strategy, and having served that purpose, it was discarded (I actually deliberately specified that the binding be cheap, to reinforce this.)
The book had three main sections, which I'll note below. I also dropped in lots of quotes, to add a bit of colour, and suggest directions. Hopefully these did not come across as David Brent-esque inspirational quotes. (Though the life of a contemporary manager is unavoidably David Brent at times.)