…just sucks. A Chat with Amy Sharp

Sometimes you need to be told something sucks. Especially, if you’re a leader.

If you can’t tell your leader something sucks – who can you tell? It’s what the leader does with the message that’s most important. A true leader can take a ‘… just sucks’ and turning it around – all the way around – until its a smile. This is one of those stories.

Back40 Design office sketches

Judicially applied

The application of … ‘just sucks’ was judicially applied to my final plan for rearranging the web department workstations. It was delivered via IM from one of our talented designers, Amy Sharp. Granted, I took on this task without anyone’s help, suggestions or guidance. And after hours of layout variations, I chose what I thought would be the best for everyone and presented it to the department. My delivery was sort of a “Well, isn’t this great” presentation. I took the lack of complaints as a positive sign. And a blessing to move forward. Are you counting my mistakes?

The beat down

Shortly after my presentation, I received Amy’s IM. I quickly deduced that she was less than satisfied with the proposed layout. I invited Amy in to the confines of my palatial office and initiated a discussion. She had some great points. And they were more thought out than her previous comment. Which I appreciated. I thanked her for voicing her concerns. Dang, busted. She was right. My layout wasn’t there yet.

The task of redesigning our web office literally beat me down – I had logged eight or more hours into discovering ways to NOT make 41 panels, nine desks, six overhead storage units and six shelves work for a web development team of eight. I knew I had to give it one more try. So I put the task away and scheduled it for early the next morning – the most creative part of my day.


I woke up at 3:30 a.m. ready to solve the puzzle. I sat down at my laptop and for the next four hours I developed an additional number of solutions that would not work. And finally one that would (see red arrow).

We implemented the new layout Friday AM. It took darn near all day – but it’s done and I think most everyone agrees it’s a big improvement. So, when an Amy tells you it ‘just sucks’ – take it to heart. Perhaps you haven’t arrived at your best solution.

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