Radical Candor

HR processes at design and marketing agencies are an opportunity waiting to happen. While the consulting world instills a KPI driven culture, which can, at times stifle creativity, the design and creative world often misses the guideposts that can help fuel personal and corporate growth.

Having had the good fortune to work for both a management consultancy in their innovation practice and in the design and creative world for 20 years and now being able to compare both I often saw the effects of poorly trained management teams who cut and fired staff without transparency and engaged in helping their employees grow only when the budget allowed. Which, due to the pressures that the design and creative industry felt overall, was infrequent at best. The lack of committing to and investing in the futures of employees made for a high level of anxiety and human suffering and management teams, who desired to, but could not find  training in human inter-relational skills, had to rely on their own personal experience to mentor and lead. And most often team leads, though genuinely interested in the personal growth of their staff and themselves, and though no fault of their own, blundered their way through the business pressures of helping grow their business. Sometimes successfully. But more times unsuccessfully and painfully for both leads and their teams.

So what can design and marketing agencies learn from the world of management consultancies? Though culturally at very polar opposites there is one core practice that is shareable. Feedback.

I am a big proponent of the techniques and methods of feedback as espoused in the book and accompanying podcast, Radical Candor, by Kim Scott and Jason Rosoff. Radical candor is perfectly suited for creative souls who might cringe and grimace in the face of the consulting world’s 70 to 90 page year end page turner documenting every instance of your time in the office with every KPI noted along the way. Life is indeed bigger than that. If you are not giving and getting feedback on a daily basis then you are missing out on one of the most powerful opportunities to grow and benefit from the presence of others who, most definitely, and thank goodness for that, see the world most differently than you do. We are, as humans, social animals and keenly invested in the happiness of those around us. And as we are creatures of reciprocity, we are most attracted to solving creative challenges when the effort is mutually beneficial. As Kim Scott and Jason Rosoff describe it, radical candor is the practice of mentoring and guiding that is kind and clear, specific and sincere. I would add to it the developing of a clearer sense of intent and self-reflectiveness. Much of this piece can also be found in the techniques that are being taught at the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute that came from the team at Google. In my experience using both fosters team and personal growth at the highest level.

For more on Radical Candor – go here 

For more on the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute – go here