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Blog posts tagged as 'people'

Mark Cridge joins BERG as Director Of Consulting

I’m delighted to say that Mark’s joined BERG as our new Director of Consulting this week.

The Cridge

Mark’s a friend that Jack, Matt and myself have known for some years now. While he was piloting the giant digital media and communications spaceship called GlueIsobar, we’d get together for a pint or three and ask him for advice. He founded Glue and built it into not only a mighty commercial force, but a culture that prized invention and creativity.

So, it was natural for us when we found out he was looking for a new challenge (over a pint or three) that we suggest BERG was just that.

We’ve built BERG over the last 6 years into a busy studio that creates not only what we think are pretty inventive connected products for ourselves to take to market (like Little Printer), but consults on connected products, services (and the strategy behind them) for some of the biggest technology, media and consumer brands in the world.

But we want to do more of that work – inventing the near-future and getting it into the world – with more clients, and get more fantastic inventive people in the studio to do it.

Mark is just the right person to help us grow our consultancy and he’s written a little bit about joining the studio from his perspective on his blog. I’m really happy he’s decided to come on board for the next phase of BERG as a colleague and a friend.

Welcome Andy Huntington

So I’m terribly pleased to announce that this week we are formally joined by Andy Huntington. We’ve known Andy for many years and began working with him as “Schulze & Webb” on the Olinda project. More recently, for the last year or so, he’s been designing and prototyping products with us.

Andy Huntington

Andy’s joining us as a Hardware Producer & Designer. He’ll be shifting between the design landscape and the dark pit of component sourcing, board design and manufacture. No doubt he’ll rub shoulders with Nick too in embedded software stuff. Initially his focus will be split between physical prototyping on Chaco and internal new product development on Barringer.

I first knew Andy during our studies at college. I sat at the next desk. Much of Andy’s work is around design of sound installations and musical instruments. I can only hope that his indentured servitude here can pay back a small percentage of the psychic debt he incurred at college during the development of his tappers project.

tap tap tap……..



*solder solder*

tap tap tap…

I still wake up screaming from the taps.

He’s a great force and I can’t wait for him to punch products into the world.

Creating a warm welcome

I’ve been thinking about new employee orientation lately. We’ve had four new people join BERG since the start of 2011 and we’re about to add two more, so there’s been a lot of orientating going on here.

When I worked at a company with more than 600 employees and was directly responsible for hiring and training a team of 10 employees, we had a very in-depth orientation programme that lasted for weeks and had been continually refined over a couple of decades.

New employee orientation for a small, relatively new company like BERG is obviously a very different thing. For one thing, since we’re so much smaller, it takes a lot less time to learn about the organisation and the people in it. That doesn’t mean, of course, that it’s any less important to have some sort of induction process.

Early in 2010, shortly after I started working at BERG, Matt Webb – being the wise and good company manager that he is – had me start compiling a checklist of all the things we needed to make sure happened when a new person joined us. At the time it was mostly geared toward short-term contractors since that’s mostly who were joining us in the spring and summer of 2010. Since then the list has grown and evolved and its focus has turned toward full contract employees. It seems like every time a new person comes on we think of two or three more things that need to be added to the list. The checklist is divided into four categories:

  1. Things the new employee needs to be provided with (keys, an email address, computer kit, access to the network server)
  2. Things the new employee needs to provide us with (biog and headshot for the website, details to get on payroll)
  3. Things the new employee needs to know (who everyone else is and what they do, general company policies, how to request holiday, location of the first aid kit)
  4. Admin that needs to happen (add their details to various spreadsheets, get them on payroll, add them to the blog rota)

I’ve been wondering if there’s anything else that we’re missing – other things we should be doing to ease new people into the BERG culture besides having a checklist. I had a quick browse around the internet which wasn’t particularly helpful – most of what I found was either blindingly obvious or not especially relevant for very small companies like BERG. I did stumble across a couple of things, though, that seemed relevant for companies of any size and worth sharing.

The first was from William H Truesdell who, in 1998, wrote on The Management Advantage Inc’s website:

Explain your organisation’s mission and its philosophy of doing business.

  • “The way we do things around here…”
  • “We believe that our customers are…”
  • “Nothing is more important than…”

Those would be good things for a company to think about and have an answer to even if they aren’t doing it for the sake of new employee organisation. It seems to me that last one in particular – “Nothing is more important than…” could give a lot of great insight in the space of just one sentence to a new person joining the organisation.

The second thing was from Alan Chapman on Chapman has quite a lot of material there about new employee orientation and training which emphasises ‘whole-person’ development, and he suggests saying something along these lines to a new employee:

“You’ve obviously been recruited as a (job title), but we recognise right from the start that you’ll probably have lots of other talents, skills, experiences (life and work), strengths, personal aims and wishes, that your job role might not necessarily enable you to use and pursue. So please give some thought to your own special skills and unique potential that you’d like to develop (outside of your job function), and if there’s a way for us to help with this, especially if we see that there’ll be benefits for the organisation too (which there often are), then we’ll try to do so…”

A little later he says,

So much of conventional induction training necessarily involves ‘putting in’ to people (knowledge, policies, standards, skills, etc); so if the employer can spend a little time ‘drawing out’ of people (aims, wishes, unique personal potential, etc) – even if it’s just to set the scene for ‘whole person development’ in the future – this will be a big breath of fresh air for most new starters.

Based on my experience, I think he’s probably right.

That’s a little bit of BERG’s still very new and very evolving New Employee Orientation story. If your company does anything interesting or creative for new employees that you’ve found to be helpful, fun, innovative, etc, we’d love to hear about it!

Welcome Joe Malia!

More welcomes this week…

I’m very happy to announce that we’ve added Joe Malia‘s biological distinctiveness to the BERG collective!

Isle de Re

Joe is a contemporary of Schulze, Matt Brown and James King from the RCA Design Interactions course, and since then has been working as a design ronin on research and software projects for Nokia, KPMG, Sony Ericsson, Luckybite, Beta Tank, IDEO and Deutsche Bank.

Though I’m perhaps most fond of this piece of his work – a drawing of “Ever-more complicated light switches” that he did for me in the 17th hour of the “24hr Drawathon” he staged with Alice Hoult last year…

Joe Malia's "Ever-more complicated series of lightswitches"

Welcome Joe!

Welcome Timo Arnall

The studio’s experiencing some turbulent times at the moment – all good – as we get busier, reach further and grow.

On that last note, I have an awesome announcement to make. Our long time friend and collaborator Timo Arnall is joining us full-time as a Creative Director here at BERG. He needs little introduction – he is a accomplished researcher, designer, photographer, film maker and conference speaker.

04 September 2010 - 18.28.41

We’ve been working with Timo in various ways since Matthew and I formed Schulze & Webb back in 2006. Our collaborations increased in scale as we began working on the Touch project investigating Near Field Computing at AHO. For instance, we went from this RFID Hacking Workshop in 2006 through to the “Immaterials” and “Nearness” film work in 2009.

Timo’s thinking, film-making and interaction design knowledge was also a huge contributor to our work on Mag+, and subsequently, he collaborated with us on the design of Popular Science+. This is to name just a few of the projects he has contributed to.

Timo is among that rare category of people with a broad, inventive literacy across the design, technology and product spectra as well as having awesome deep trenches of skill across graphic design, product design, design research, writing, photography, video production, post-production, drawing, lighting, and architecture.

He also has a long standing dedication to Nike Footscape.

In addition to leading product and service design projects with our clients (alongside Denise) as Creative Director, his responsibilities will also include managing and directing BERG’s communications output.

Timo is a capable designer in many traditional forms – but in many ways his preferred design medium for exploring interactions is video. His responsibilities will begin on a brief for Chaco, but we also have the pleasure of including him in some client workshops on Uinta.

On a personal note, I’ve known Timo since childhood – I look forward to his continuing influence on me personally, also to watch both how he affects the room, and it affects his work.

Many cheers for the acquisition of the blonde-posthuman-photon-railgun Timo Arnall!

Happy days…

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