Thinking Differently: Interview with Megan Adolph

Megan Adolph was in our first Chicago Cohort in 2016 and currently has moved for work in the West Coast.

Megan, can you explain what you are currently doing right now?

I live in San Francisco, just moved here from Chicago. I work for a company called Workday, which is an HR software company. So running a lot of finances and expenses for companies. My specific job is running design education. We have a very small design team and a very large company. I lead trainings on design thinking, how to conduct user research, and also how to facilitate meetings in a collaborative way, to help train employees of this organization on some of these fields.

For a good portion of your life in Chicago you were doing a lot of startup, and things like that. What has the transition been like from doing a bunch of projects, to now, staying and working with one company?

Well, it is easier to manage the details to only have one. In Chicago I was teaching at Northwestern, which I love doing. I helped students work on physical product design, and was also doing different client projects at the same time. There is a fun hustle and bustle, Tommy you mentioned that you love that too, doing lots of different things at once. There has been a sort of peace to have one specific company to work with, where I feel I can be really focused and go deep. I am not as worried about if I am going to book this project; I mean at the same time you are running a small business and making sure you have everything managed, as well as be a designer, run facilitations, teach, etc. Not having to worry about if I am going to have enough money to cover all my expenses as much this month is a nice relief to actually focus on the work that I am doing.

What about your spiritual life? From the change in to Chicago, to where you are, finding a new church, fellowship, etc. Where are you spiritually, and how have you seen God working through this journey during this time?

I will be honest, last week was the first time I really went to church and connected. In the midst of the transition it was just so easy for me to pull away because I was busy. I had such a good experience; I went with my friend Steve to Reality, two weeks ago. It was about two hours long, and I kept thinking, is it over yet? I was talking to him about it, and he says, actually they are really big on the response, and leaving the space. It was this really big call out to me, I haven’t been putting in that level of space in this transition. So coming this Sunday and spending the full two hours there, it was a freeing release; where the depth and the craving of what I really needed, was that time with God. I am really thankful for that. But in the transition it was so easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of things. I wouldn’t necessarily say I was far away from God, but definitely not as prudent in communities. I took for granted in some ways, I was in Chicago for thirteen years, some of the bases of church all set up, so many friends, a depth of community. It was hard, and some ways still is hard, but recognizing that where you put your intentionality is where it will grow. Even just going to church yesterday, the girl who sat next to me works in Pleasanton, where I work, and we are going to connect. I am just thankful for that element of when you do put that foot forward, God will honor that. I am thankful for that reminder and connection.

Ever since I met you, you have been passionate about design thinking and training, when did you start realizing your passion? What is it about it that psychs you up?

I didn’t even know what these words were for a long time to be honest. I did a startup, about seven or so years ago, we hired a company to do design. I though design was just pixels, color, what it would be, but it had so much more to do with empathy and understanding people. I was doing more technical product management at the time, so I realized I liked their job more than mine. When we sold the company, I decided to switch careers. Since then I have just been loving the different angles. I started designing stores, I was doing physical product design with Northwestern. I love that it’s more of a methodology that helps you sort of understand what is a core human need and then what you’re designing; whether that’s a website, a store, a product, it doesn’t necessarily matter as understanding the process. I am not an expert in store design, I work with architects and interior designers to make stores. Or if I am doing physical product design, I also am not super great at welding things; but understanding this process I can come into and product and really understand the human needs and translate them into what will make a successful product.

What are you hoping for to integrate your skills with the gospel?

I have a core belief that everyone is creative. I think we can often confuse creativity with “I can draw.” I believe God is the ultimate creator, and there is a big part of me that loves creating space for creativity. If I am running a workshop for the day, and I can create conversations that can occur in a different way, or have someone think of a new idea, or just have fun in a way they haven’t done before. I guess I see how I want God to work through me as allowing other people to experience themselves as creative, or experience themselves in new ways. Being able to be a space for that is where I like to see my mission and work come in. Letting the reflection of being a creator show up in people, whether that is in their work, or brainstorming about their personal lives; I love to be a space for someone to think differently or to be more creative.