The bit when things go wrong...

In our first meeting with the project teams, Mark and I talked about the several stages of opening up and focussing down that we anticipated they would experience and how this would impact on their development. I have realised however that we missed out a vital stage – the week when everything goes a little bit pear shaped.

The last week in Books & Print land has been marred by failing brakes, confidence crises, injured backs and, for me personally, quite a lot of vomit. Despite our enthusiasm for sharing problems in Sandbox some tales are not ours to tell and medical details would probably be over sharing anyway. Out of respect for the privacy of the ill-fated participants (and the aforementioned vomit) therefore, this will be quite a short post. The truth is probably that where things aren't going wrong everyone is so busy that I am not hearing much about it and I am sure that they will emerge with tales of glory soon.

My instinct is that a few of our current run of mishaps are the result of us reaching the point when the ideas have spilled out of the main brains into their ever-growing teams of collaborators, when the projects have burst out of the workplace and into the lives of those involved. This can make tensions run high but it is also brilliant that people care so much: 'I will try and make the Cardiff event' Anthony said when I bumped into him in the Studio last week 'but now we have started building, we can't really stop' while Tom and his wife appear to be planning the birth of their baby around the project schedule. Charlie posted a charming example of this personal approach last week, comparing her family snaps to those of Mary Curzon's and speaking with real affection about their subject (Nicola certainly has one Curzon convert in the bag).

What is needed in such overwhelming times of course is some good old prioritising. For several days, and under strict instruction, I have been prioritising sleep, but elsewhere teams have been more productive.  It was great to see Laura’s recent post for The Secret Lives of Books, in which she tells of their renewed attention to what kind of design will help people to move freely in their space. As a choreographer, this is her specialism and I am delighted that it has moved up their to do list. The Digitising the Dollar Princess team are moving past the admin struggles of previous weeks and have prioritised perfectly, remembering that the time and money available is best used to explore the key R&D questions rather than to do lots of the same thing (help the team with this by completing their very short survey). This has been their guiding principle for narrowing down the tech spec, design and content.

In a blog post I wrote before the application deadline for Books & Print I said: Make Sandbox count. When you have a clear argument about where the innovation lies, make sure that your R&D will test that thing. If you do that, the space, time and support you get with sandbox will really make a difference. I think that this advice still stands.

So that is it for now: take care on the roads everyone, eat lots of fresh veg, wrap up warm. And prioritise.

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