Don’t be a pessimist – if you want to make a difference join the committee

I was invited to join the board of the Design Business Association in 1998 having served as Chairman of the Typographic Circle throughout the Nineties.

Both committees are similar in that they invite “constructive” criticism from everyone working on behalf of the members. The busy designers who are prepared to give up their evenings to attend unpaid meetings demand, and have a say in how the organisations they belong to are run.

My experience of working with both organisations is that the committees really try to focus on the requirements of their members, have no hidden agendas and rarely get thanked.

Something in the British nature seems to make us always look for the “downside” in situations, whether it is slagging off the Millennium Dome project, or trying to stop England becoming the venue for the 2006 World Cup. I can’t remember the last time I saw a letter praising the work of the various design bodies, and much of the work they do is excellent.

My advice for the anonymous writer who slagged off the DBA is to apply to join the committee, offer constructive criticism to your fellow committee members, and try to help build an organisation you can be proud of. And when the praise does not come, have the guts to hang in there and tough it out, and don’t bail out at the first hurdle.

It might not be as easy as writing anonymous letters, but it will give you more satisfaction knowing you made a difference.

Phil Jones

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