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Why I'm choosing Slalom

A new hire’s take on creating amazing outcomes, ascribing to core values like servant leadership, and embracing the art of the possible.

by Tim Letscher

I’ve spent my career solving design problems. Beginning with graphic design in the early 90s, my problem-solving muscle evolved and developed with the very notion of what "design" could accomplish—user experience, interaction design, software design, information architecture, service design, etc. It wasn't until I moved to Minnesota in 2010 that I was told that what I was doing was "digital strategy," so I accepted that moniker for a bit in a more traditional agency setting, but I've always felt the title to be a bit narrow.

Create amazing outcomes

For the past five years, I’ve been lucky to have worked with smart and talented people in the advertising industry—they taught me a ton about brand strategy and pushing for the great idea. But, I wanted to continue to expand the orbit of what design can solve; after all, you can't advertise your way out of every business problem.

That's one of the reasons why I'm excited to be joining Slalom. Their definition of what a consultant offers really hits home: "Consultants do four things—they help clients understand the present; they interpret what will happen in the future; they put a plan in place to get there; and they dig in and get the work done. But great consultants do more—they create amazing outcomes."

That philosophy is similar to the design thinking approach—What is? What if? What wows? What works?—and it doesn't begin with the proverbial hammer (advertising) that makes everything look like a nail.

Embrace core values—like servant leadership

More importantly, I'm joining Slalom because of the values set forth by leadership, like co-founder John Tobin's servant leadership philosophy. It's an approach that I try to emulate every day with five principles that I write on page one in every sketchbook I've started over the last three years:

Be authentic. Be vulnerable. Be accepting. Be present. Be useful.

One of the items in the onboarding checklist during my first week at Slalom was to read Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni. Essentially, the book embodies the strength and meaning that can come out of being vulnerable. Vulnerability is a trait that, as Dr. Brené Brown says, is at the heart of innovation, creativity, and change. (And if you haven't seen her TEDx talk do yourself a favor and watch it now.)

Aim for the art of the possible

Another moment that helped seal my decision came in the form of a conversation and subsequent email thread with our Minneapolis general manager, Rich Coughlin. More than once, he mentioned the "art of the possible”—an approach that fits perfectly with design thinking.

With leaders like this at Slalom, the stage is set for great things. I'm looking forward to what the future holds.