NewslettersApril 13th, 2021

PG #79: Thinking cyclically

Jess Allison
Jess Allison, Delivery Director
image of a cycle of moons forming a circle reflected over water

I’ve been thinking a lot about cycles lately: the moon, the seasons, life. Their phases have distinct characteristics and are useful for different things. (Spoiler alert: it’s not always to get stuff done.)

Farmers are hip to this. They must prepare the soil, sow the seeds, fertilise, irrigate, harvest, and store. Our Traditional Custodians of land understand this too. Where I live, we’re in Gwangal moronn, or honey bee season, characterised by cooler mornings, golden evenings, berries ripening, and flocking birds.

When planning a project or our week, it’s easy to consider all hours equal. We expect to feel our best at all times, for nothing to go wrong. Last year was the extreme case, when our work lives were up-ended and, if we were lucky enough to keep our job, many of us then had to navigate new software (hello, Miro) and new ways of working with each other, alongside the ever-looming feeling that we didn’t know what was coming next. We still don’t.

But we’re getting there! If 2020 was a time of upheaval, then 2021 is feeling like a time to renew, dream, plan and prepare. It might be a time to change jobs, start a new hobby or self-care routine, or take time out to reflect. At Paper Giant, we’re striving for slow improvement, rethinking how we work together, what our physical offices are for, and how to accommodate team members all over the world (shout out to the Ireland studio!)

We’re far from perfect, but we try to learn from our mistakes, and have a few cycles of our own:

  • During every project we run weekly internal WIP meetings, to share our work in progress and flag any concerns.

  • We encourage ~fortnightly ‘care chats’ with someone from outside the project team, as a prompt to check in with each other.

  • At the end of every project, we hold a retrospective to find out what went well and what we could do better next time.

  • And we are about to restart our studio-wide Reflect sessions, which are a chance to raise issues or questions that aren’t project-specific, and agree on the next steps together.

By making time for reflection, we hope to give our ‘doing’ time its best chance of success – for ourselves, and the people our work impacts.

Now you’ll have to excuse me, I’m off for a walk in the sun.


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Once a fortnight we share our thoughts on design-related topics, review thought-provoking articles and share what's happening in and out of the studio.

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Paper Giant acknowledges the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung people of the Kulin nation, and the Ngunnawal people as the Traditional Owners of the lands on which our offices are located, and the Traditional Owners of Country on which we meet and work throughout Australia.

We recognise that sovereignty over the land has never been ceded, and pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain images and voices of deceased people.