At the beginning of every project is a massive data infusion. Not only are you getting to know the people by talking to them, but you are also exploring content, design and engineering data – written, presented and in physical form. This download requires both an abstract attention (breadth) and also focused detail analysis (depth).
I like to think of the abstract form of attention as walking through the "informational mists" that surround a company or individual. You keep your senses open to pick up all the intricate relationships. Obtaining discernment and insight however requires that you not just swim through this ocean of interconnectivity but also put into place a process to explore and collect more specifics on the underlying frameworks that operate in a company. This architecting process of picking and choosing the data you will attend to, and also keeping an open connection to the larger whole is what I consider the "integrator" part of my job description.
While looking at my own way of working things out, I've recently discovered that the key to being effective in my work is being able to work and communicate both sides of a process – both detail and abstract, both holist (gather information randomly within a framework) and serial (proceeding step-by-step from the known to the unknown).
By integrating - analyzing and intuiting the connections and translating in whatever direction is necessary, the resulting collaboration creates actionable steps that quickly gain broader buy-in – because they make sense. They should; they were created from the company's own underlying "rules" and visionary framework, as well as, a strong intention to connect in ways that also make sense to the intended audience. The resulting clarity and authenticity of the implementation, in my experience, leads to some spectacularly innovative results.
I believe that the more options technology gives us—the more complexity, and potential—then the more important it becomes to hone in that core set of "truths" AND be able to articulate them to a diverse set of project influencers….
…I believe that these soft skills are needed now more than ever because design, technology, business, brand and human needs have never been so intertwined before—so co-dependent. Like good designers and planners, synthesizers possess a healthy dose of empathy. But they can also look at things from a business perspective. Good synthesizers can be analytical—but operate enough on intuition to not over analyze.
As a person matures as an integrator, I would imagine that there is an increase in ability to "pull-focus" quickly and smoothly from forest to individual trees and back again. And also in ability to find more/better ways to communicate. That's why I'm so grateful I get to have it as part of my practice and job description. And I certainly can't think of anything I'd rather be doing now other than finding simplicity and action from within infinite complexity and informational mists. Sounds fun, eh?!? So get in here with me!
How are you integrating in your daily life and job?