Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Other Side of My Brain

Right now, I'm in Eugene, Oregon with my dear friend Helen, assisting her on a credit union audit.

I came off of a week full of art teaching - finishing up Memory Jewelry, posting a new DEMO! and teaching The Strong, Silent Type: Creating Wordwear with Gretchin - and art making. I'm working feverishly on holiday gifts and trying to put the finishing touches on some pieces for the Gresham Postcards from Afar show.

Then, I'm off to Eugene for an audit.

So, how the heck does an artist end up working as an assistant to an auditor?

For many years, I worked in market research. I designed, conducted, analyzed and reported surveys and their results to help companies design products and communicate more effectively with customers and constituents. I loved working on government and non-profit projects, projects where I really was working with the organization to help them identify and meet people's needs, and to foster more effective communication with the people they served. And the analysis? That was all about seeing patterns. So the job in market research ended, and morphed into doing similar survey work inside government agencies, talking to people on large-scale government IT projects about their needs and how to foster more effective communication within the team and with stakeholders. I also started doing more work asking people about procedures and processes - was the management structure effective? Was there a clear process in place to address issues and conflicts? Etc. Combine this awareness of processes and growing awareness of best practices with an ability to see patterns, and poof, I got a gig working on audits. I talk to people. I understand their processes. I see the gaps that make it less effective. Of course, in both cases, I'm working with subject matter experts - people who've each been in their respective fields (IT project management/QA/risk assessment and Credit Union management/audit) for over 20 years. In both cases, it's part-time sub-contract work, and it pays well. When there's work.

Of course, the fact that I'm carrying my iBook on the job is an immediate hint to the end client that I'm not their typical IT/CPA person.

And it's nutty, but the skills do cross over. Different lingo. Different applications. Similar skills. It's still about asking questions, listening, seeing patterns.


Michael5000 said...

It makes sense to me. There's a sort of art-like satisfaction to making a work process run effectively and well and, with any luck, humanely. I have what many people at my work see as a bizarre glee in systematizing a paperwork process. But they have no idea how much time I'm saving them in the long run.

Bridget said...

Yes, organization is an art . . . and it's amazing how many things are complex and challenging enough to get us into that satisfying flow state . . . surgery, baking, developing systems, designing buildings . . .