Looking Back

Leaving Death Valley by me

This week the team at Astun got together for their Spring Event in Richmond, it was the first time that we had all been together since December 2019 so there was a lot of laughing, hugging and catching up to do with friends and colleagues, old and new.

Mike Saunt asked me if I would talk about some of the changes in Astun since I have been working with them and it turned out that the event was almost exactly on the 10th anniversary of me starting to work with them so I thought that might be a good lense to use for the talk. I looked back at a short strategy presentation that I had given early in my time with Astun and how much the organisation had changed and grown in the last 10 years. The response was very positive and one person even said that he had a tear in his eye.

So this isn’t a post about Astun and what a fun, values based company they are, it is a personal reflection on the value of taking time to look back, to take stock, to see where you are in the longer perspective of your journey, personal or corporate. We spend a lot of work time living in the now and worrying about the future, management meetings focus on the period just closed and progress against the year’s targets. We rarely take time to look back and maybe take some satisfaction or even pleasure from the journey that we have taken with its ups and downs.

Yesterday I got to catch up with my pal Arnaud Ferrand who is also my partner in crime at Mappery for one of our irregular Mappery working sessions which involve food, planning, tech and chat. We got to talking about the Mappery journey since Ken and I started it through to the current day. In a bit under 4 years we have published 800 posts containing 1,300 images and whilst it has been a lot of fun there have been a few stressful moments (way less since Arnaud joined me). What started out as a personal hobby project for Ken and me when we were on safari together has grown to become an archive of contemporary usage of maps in design, art, politics, humour and much more (maybe that sounds a bit overdone but wtf). Arnaud and I realised that we had something a little precious in our care and that we need to ensure that our backups were a bit more robust! That was a realisation that came from looking back.

My thought for a Friday, take an hour to note down where you were 5 or 10 years ago, compare that to where you are today and reflect on the progress, the challenges and the high points. Then sit back with a warm glow and maybe even sip a beer or a whisky.

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