Remember back when people used to write about their work on their personal domains instead of Medium? Remember when I had time to write about every project I was involved with instead of being more concerned about shipping things and keeping my teams happy? It seems as though I will only ever find the time to write about my teams' work on my own website once a year now. So here is my annual brain dump.
What we worked on in 2016
Last year was a weird one for me, where I spent the entirety of it directing two amazing but very different teams: (1) a multimedia storytelling team (2) a brand identity team. Though I haven't been writing about it here, we've made sure to write about it elsewhere:
- Brand Identity: We relaunched Curbed, our home brand
- Brand Identity: In relauching Curbed, we got the ball moving on a new and very important version of Chorus, our publishing platform
- Brand Identity: We relaunched Recode, our tech/biz brand
- Brand Identity: We relaunched Racked, our retail brand
- Brand Identity: We made a new design system to support Vox's first conference
- Storytelling: We merged our R&D team and storytelling tools team into a new studio within editorial, The Storytelling Studio
- Storytelling: We published an exhaustive interview and essay with Hillary Clinton
- Storytelling: Worked with Racked on their first foray into menswear
- Team & process: Continued our culture of quarterly documentation days
- Team & process: Formalized our culture of moodboarding and early ideation
- Team & process: Tried a bunch of different ways to fight meeting burnout
- Storytelling: Dabbled in AI-based audio storytelling
- Team & process: Reimagined scrum as a project-based standup
- Team & process: Continued our tradition of weekly team bonding
- Storytelling: Designed for user screenshotting behavior in our Trump Tax piece
- Team & process: Worked harder at making design reviews more productive
- Team & process: Got smarter about integrating content testing into user testing
- Storytelling: Started building out multiplatform design systems for every storytelling project
- Storytelling: Played with integrating personalized dynamic data into longforms
- Storytelling: An exhaustive guide to how immigration shaped American food culture
- Storytelling: Worked with our OpenNews fellow to launch an open source tool for video editing
- Storytelling: Worked with the Vox team to build election tools
- Brand Identity: Relaunched The Verge
Phew, that was a lot! And that's just the big stuff for teams that I touched in some ways — a very small part of what Vox Media does overall. Just a few months into 2017, we've already done a ton more (live inauguration annotations, a massive FF7 Oral History, dabbling in video games, launching a Facebook bot, more dynamic personal data).
As you might notice, the last few years I've gone farther away from the actual bylined work as an active contributor, and have been working more on creating frameworks for teams to work efficiently.
Now that the Storytelling Studio and Brand Identities have found a good rhythm for continuing to grow, I'm moving on to a new role...
What's new for Lauren in 2017
As of this week, I'm Vox Media's new Executive Director for Operations, working closely with our first-ever COO. What a COO does is different at every company, depending on the CEO and the immediate needs. For me and Trei, that focus will be on creating frameworks to move quickly, make decisions, and execute efficiently on the company's most pressing cross-departmental initiatives. My role specifically is one deeply immersed in the "execution" piece of that last sentence. Basically taking what I've always done best, and elevating it to the most business-critical projects: building teams, making documentation core, organizing and communicating, and unblocking people to do their best work. Onward through the fog!