When I came on board with Actionable (1 year and 8 months ago to be exact), I was in a slow spot with my freelance business. I was intrigued by the job posting for a (very) part-time graphic designer, and it seemed like a good avenue to a stable income stream in the ever-changing ups and downs of self-employment.
While I expected to play my usual contractor role—an outsider supporting the needs of her client, I quickly realized that Actionable wasn’t typical. While the fast pace and results-oriented culture was certainly striking (and felt noticeably different than many organizations), what stood out the most was the culture. The team was truly invested—in their work and in each other. Frequent discussions, questions, new strategies and planning. Full speed ahead on the right-now projects without losing sight of the long-term vision. Genuine. Honest. Responsive. Inclusive. They were (and are!) passionate about their partnership with consultants and making a dent in the learning and development universe. I was only working 10 hours a week, but it was clear this wasn’t “just another job.” I was part of the team.
You know that quote, “the only constant in life is change”? You could easily swap out “life” with “a growing startup” and it would be equally true.
Which is exciting and interesting, but also…hard. My few hours each week quickly grew and so did the business. As Actionable began to stretch and evolve, so did I.
Within six months, my hours had doubled and we were starting a new chapter. William officially invested in Actionable and joined Chris as a full partner. Chris asked if I would plan an event in Denver—the very first of our Discovery Sessions (recruitment events for our consultant partnership program). I agreed and jumped into my new role of coordinating our very first West Coast Tour. On top of my usual design duties, I was now scheduling venues, arranging catering, and coordinating other event logistics. For the next 6 months, our small team entered into a new adventure where we had the freedom to make mistakes (which we did) and learn from them (which we did). We tested and refined, failed and tried again.
After the first tour, with increasing design needs, I pivoted my focus again—this time back to design. Roles shuffled and I certainly wasn’t the only one who experienced shifting responsibilities, trying new things, and an increasingly full plate.
Spring came and the Conversations platform was released. Bug fixes and new features would follow. We started hiring. We held our first Global Summit in Las Vegas, where we were able to connect face-to-face with our team and consulting partners.
Over the summer months (that are now a blur) we worked with a branding agency to create a unified brand across our 4 properties, launched 3 websites, and headed into our most loaded quarter of Discovery Sessions yet.
After the summer sprint was behind me, it was time to start another new chapter. I was bumping up my hours and becoming an official team member (though I’d felt “in” since that very first month), leaving my freelancer status behind.
But more significant than my new status was this: I needed help in a big way. Our design needs were growing—three content channels via our new websites, plus additional social media channels, plus several months of back-to-back Discovery Sessions across three countries, and of course consultant collateral and support. It was time to hire another designer.
Can I be honest here? This was scary. There’s something nice about being relied on, being that go-to person. It was really hard to think about giving away projects and responsibilities—I was going to have to give away some of my legos. It was hard to think about redefining my own role. Having a partner in design felt like the great unknown when I’ve been used to flying solo.
Change is hard. But you know what? It’s also really good.
This September Alysha DeMarsh joined the Actionable Team as our Production Designer and she is crushing it. Alysha is fast, thoughtful, adaptable, proactive, with a great eye for design. Have I let go of all of my fears and insecurities? Nope. Have I figured out how to perfectly navigate this new territory? Um, no. But here’s why I think this next chapter is even more exciting than the last:
- Sustainability. Part of being a healthy team member in a healthy organization means not burning out. In the constant change of a growing company, letting go and adapting to ever-evolving roles is necessary to survive and thrive.
- Collaboration. In the midst of onboarding Alysha and project hand-offs, we haven’t had a chance to do this enough, but I’m looking forward to brainstorming and sharing ideas. Having a fellow designer to share feedback and inspiration will be invaluable.
- Evolution. While letting go of certain projects almost hurts, this opens up more space in my own role—to evolve and grow, which ultimately leads to new personal challenges as well as a positive impact on Actionable as a whole. What new projects can I take on? What new responsibilities do I now have time for? What things have been pushed aside that can now receive the attention they deserve? Space to think, space for new ideas, space to be proactive and take the initiative.
The learning and development landscape is changing. And as Actionable works to address these changes, we’re changing too. Because while we promote organizational well-being, we strive to live it out ourselves. And that means learning, growing, stretching, changing.
Change might be constant. It can be messy and scary. But it’s worth it.
How do you encourage healthy change in your organization? What tips do you have for fast growth within an organization?