5 Questions with Quimby Melton
Create greater clarity than would otherwise exist
Quimby is the founder and president of Studio Hyperset. He started Studio Hyperset in 2006 after studying Transatlantic literature and culture, new media, and humanities computing at the Universities of Georgia (AB, 00) and Nevada, Las Vegas (MA, 03; PhD, 08). Professionally, he has a background in literary studies, media production, front-end development, and project management, and his current duties involve: dialoguing with clients; scoping and managing SH’s growth strategy and business development pipeline; framing and stabilizing its organizational and operational systems; finding and developing talent; and, most importantly, supporting the SH team.
What is your role at Studio Hyperset?
I’m the president and founder of Studio Hyperset, and it’s the best job I’ve ever had. We have some ambitious growth targets in 2016 so, to ensure our service operations scale as elegantly as possible, this year, I’m also serving as the COO.
While I enjoy just about every aspect of running SH, I find service operations to be especially exciting. Our master project management feed is a sort of diachronic, multi-authored, and radically-extended novel. Every day, it illustrates a series of interpersonal interactions driven by need, duty, humor, grace, and catharsis. Team and client conversations take place transnationally, on a global scale, and they’re organized according to collaborative workflows and best-practices that everyone involved builds, reviews, and continually perfects.
That feed is my favorite corner of the Web. It’s the first thing I review each morning, and it’s the last thing I see before going to sleep. And throughout the day, it’s always in the corner of my eye.
How do you build long-term relationships? Can you give us an example of a long-term client relationship?
Studio Hyperset’s longest-term relationship is with the Black Mountain Institute at UNLV in Las Vegas, NV. We’ve worked with them since 2005, since before I’d even incorporated SH. And I suppose we can attribute that relationship’s longevity to the same factors that characterize any successful, long-term friendship, romantic relationship, or business partnership:
- good communication
- honesty and trust
- an eagerness to evolve and change
- a sensitivity to core needs
Offering in-demand services at competitive rates is very important, of course. But creating a huddle of amity and trust is even more important. Budgets and performance metrics are necessary aspects of doing business, but I think any ultra-long-term client-service vendor relationship is built around two implicit pledges the latter makes to the former:
We have your best interests at heart.
We have your back no matter what.
Interestingly enough, I think these two points also inform strong, ultra-long-term teammate relationships. Whether as clients or vendors or bosses or workers, I suspect we’re all willing to sacrifice a bit of time and money and even creature comfort to preserve the integrity of those two covenants.
To our clients and our team, I certainly am.
How does SH help its clients reach their goals faster?
Our project management systems — which rely on 24/7 global communication, intuitive workflows, and technology solutions — minimize most common frustrations associated with the client/agency relationship:
- tangled email chains
- endless follow ups
- unresponsive talent
Moreover, these systems help put tremendous downward pressure on development and review cycles, increase speed to market, and streamline the processes of creating content and executing marketing strategies. For example, typical content dev/review/launch cycles run 15-30 days. We routinely complete the same cycles in a week or less.
I’m very, very proud of those systems. Angela and I built them from scratch, and they pay dividends for SH and our clients every day.
What is your approach to project management?
Project management is a sort of religion to me. I’ve experienced the world (and professional situations) when it’s been proactively present and passively absent, and there’s no contest which facilitates the best relationships and which maximizes happiness, catharsis, and intended results.
Just like a reader or a critic, great project managers focus on creating greater clarity than would otherwise exist. The role’s special genius lies in transforming stochastic “noise” into harmonized order and creating a space in which creative actions can flourish. Challenging artworks without critical voices are just jumbles of signs. Likewise, projects without project managers are generally nightmares of entropy.
When we say SH’s mission involves creating catharsis, this is exactly what we mean. Project managers are light-bringers and deus ex machina figures. They prevent problems from happening and solve them when they arise. They’re the agents of catharsis and the essential bridge between clients and creatives. In this capacity, they allow each to collaborate harmoniously and constructively and thereby facilitate the building of bridges outward to audiences.
Bottlenecks — stalls in an otherwise fluid workflow — are unappealing and best avoided, and I always want SH to be the fastest, most efficient service shop on the block. However, when we must choose, we always sacrifice raw speed for the core values of good project management:
Each of these have tremendous enduring value.