2015 Projects / #3 – Produce

This is the final post from a series of four so if you have missed any of the previous ones feel free to catch up first – it’ll all make a little bit more sense if you do.

Slack HQ put out a great blog post in the past week about how companies only really build two things; the content they produce and their internal culture. Most of the time production is external and culture internal.

Seeing as Smithery is now a two-man band at the core, we find changing the culture is quite an easy thing for us to do, and generally we don’t have to consciously make changes to help the internal culture we just have a chat about what kind of work we want to do and how we want to do it.

What we produce however is slightly trickier – I think we are “general specialists”, and whilst we have both had more definite job descriptions in the past, it’s hard to know what to call ourselves when we don’t know what we are going to be doing next. We do a lot of different stuff, which is a massive perk of the job, we are never bored or have jobs which are repetitive of a previous job.

I think that may be the reason that I wanted to steer away from a full-time Industrial Design job, despite that being what I studied at Loughborough Uni.  Generally making a product start to finish for a client takes too long.  The last product I designed was Orb Wheels, a set of motorised wheels for manual wheelchairs which would give users the choice between manual and powered propulsion.

And I did enjoy it, at times I really enjoyed it, but then there were times that I would rather have been doing absolutely anything else.  Maybe this was because I was working on it alone and not in a team or maybe it was the fact it took 9 months of pretty much solely working on this 15 hour days, 7 days a week.  But when I look back on the design process it is the negatives that really stick out.  I enjoyed the other projects which I was involved in that had much quicker results.  I do miss designing though and I really love the way we work so quickly here at Smithery and that no two jobs are ever the same.  So I really want to try and combine the two somehow.


Because of this variation I often find it quite hard to actually define what Smithery does. Maybe John has more luck, we have previously called  “A one-man studio”, “an innovation and strategy consultancy”, and most recently “a product and marketing innovation studio”.

Generally the easiest way to explain it is through the mantra – Make Things People Want > Make People Want Things (MTPW>MPWT).

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So the third project for 2015 is going to focus on the “Make Things” part of MTPW>MPWT. In the past John has had people contact him as ‘the man who makes stuff’ asking for help – in fact there was even an email asking exactly that yesterday morning. We have had great fun making loads of completely different things in the past including Artefact Cards, Fiducial Keys, SuperGrid Postcards and Field Kits so we are very open to new briefs.

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All have seemed to be fairly successful – well, by that I guess I mean people seem to like them. So we think we might be on to something with this whole making things business. But what’s more, it helps us learn more about people, and culture – sending out little emissarial ideas in physical form, like Grant McCracken’s Culturematic idea that John talked about a while ago.

If there is something you have always thought might be a good idea, and you want to explore a little, pop us an email or even better let’s grab a coffee and help us on our way to producing something new.

So goals for Project Three:

WBB (Why Bloody Bother) –If you don’t make anything yourself you’ll never make anything of yourself” now this might not be completely true but I do think that only good can come out of trying to make something you have never tried before. Failing leads to learning and all that jazz. Also we can see how good we are at being the people who make things.

WDG (Wooly, Doable Goal) – What will we be making? We don’t exactly know, we aren’t ruling anything out, there aren’t any criteria for just now other than no pointless stuff because lets face it the world is already full of loads of useless crap. Stuff that helps people, has a purpose or evokes a nice reaction out of folks. We do know that we will be aiming to make something every month (MSEM) and that will be the minimum requirement.


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