Looking ahead—and to the side.


It’s a word I learned from an administrator at work. He challenged his team to reach out and reach through to other organizations. Organizations that are probably striving for the same goal that we are, but are too focused to look left or right to see others that are trying to do the same thing. 

For example, our department is given federal dollars to administer programs designed specifically for veterans, and I know there are countless other organizations who assist our country’s veterans. The inner-connectivity between services benefiting a common audience can provide a much better experience. We should start placing the client among the services, rather than being passed down a line of organizations. Linking and connecting with similar organizations will prevent the potentially fatal consequences of not even knowing about another organization who might desperately want to help, but doesn’t know your client exists.

It’s why I love the web. The Internet seems to have a knack for inter-connectivity (hyperlinking, search results, purchase recommendations, @mentions, etc). It doesn’t come as naturally for humans at times. It takes risking assumptions and being intentional. Sometimes we need more of that spiderweb mentality and reach out, not just up or down. My administrator was telling us that, yes, we do a great work, but don’t be blinded to think we’re the only ones. Just imagine what good we could do together with more partners that don’t exactly look or function just like us.

Working with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development has taught me this concept of inter-Connectivity, but has also taught me the opposite. A bad word we say with a bit of disgust and sarcasm: “silos”. Silos is the mentality that our group is in it’s on little world. A silo mindset will come up with a solution and keep it to themselves. Besides my design work, I think I have a personal mission to break as many silo-minded perceptions as possible. 

Working in the Communications Office has given me a variety of opportunities to try out different skills with the faith and backing of the administrators. One day, you might see me plugging in formulas into a Google Sheet that ties into an Inspection Report web form and the next, working in Photoshop on a vinyl bus wrap ad that’s about to hit the streets of Memphis.

Be excellent or mediocre?

Lately, I have been contemplating on whether I should be a specialist or a generalist. My goal for this year is to figure out where I fall in this spectrum and start making advances towards whichever path I take.

The concept of inter-connectivity fits in with either school of thought. Whether I go for a wide spectrum or a narrow focus, inter-connectivity will mean that I can discover potential cross-applications by looking side-to-side, but also further ahead.


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