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About this time last year, we initiated an internal evaluation process for Grant Design Collaborative that would serve as a reminder to assess our methods and goals on a recurring basis. We believed that putting ourselves through the same process that we demand of our clients could yield some interesting results.

One part of this effort involved moving the team up onto one floor of our building in historic downtown Canton. At the time, we were split up over two floors, spread out and not quite maximizing our space. As it turned out, this endeavor coincided with the new years holiday and all of the self-reflection and resolution-making that comes with it, so what started out as a fairly straightforward move evolved into a massive moment of reevaluation and editing. It became an opportunity to clean house, to scour the files and go deep into the corners and clear away the lingering documents, equipment, and tchotchkes that clutter our workspaces. And it dared us to design a better space—for us.

So we proceeded to clean house—moving furniture, rethinking spaces and ridding ourselves of excess baggage. Nothing was sacred. We considered the space a blank canvas and we sought to repurpose, recycle, and discard anything we could. At times it was difficult, chaotic and, frankly, uncomfortable. You see, as champions of good design and admirers of beautiful things, we sometimes find it difficult to part with those “perfect” artifacts. But we forced ourselves to make the tough decisions, to keep only the essentials and clear the way for new ideas.

And as we worked, it dawned on us that these feelings of vulnerability and uncertainty are what our clients sometimes feel upon embarking on a brand strategy program with us. On these projects, our goal is to clear away the fog of conflicting ideas and agendas, remove the clutter and noise from their concepts and help them craft the most memorable ways to communicate their most important message. Unfortunately, this tends to awaken those nagging feelings of uncertainty that come with change. It can make one question the validity of their choices and fear the unknown; because it leaves a lot on the table and answers are not immediately forthcoming. But having experienced the process firsthand, as we did with our move, we could appreciate the magnitude of such an endeavor and really feel what our clients feel. We had to learn from our clients and press forward, embrace the process and trust that we’d get through. We were going to get uncomfortableand roll with it.

And now here we are—among other things, our move is complete and we’re looking lean and mean. And, like many of our clients, we’re surprised at the results. Not only at what we accomplished, but the feelings of liberation, confidence and excitement that emerged. The move has given new life to old spaces—offering places to rethink, redecorate and reclaim—and created a streamlined environment in which to collaborate.