Waterparks, Design Thinking, And Work That Matters—An Interview With Kertis Creative’s Director Of Strategy

Patrick McNerthney
November 15, 2022

What matters most to you as a leader in the design world? Yeah, YOU.

We wanna know so badly we devoted last month’s entire 4-hour long brain trust meeting (it was at Wings and Waves Waterpark, still counts + super fun) to the topic and came up with the following guesses before being asked politely to leave because we were “hogging the Mach 1 Body Slide as well as the Vortex Pool.”

Here’s what we came up with. You universally, preternaturally, and consistently immerse yourself in and/or obsess over:

  • trending desserts
  • apps
  • productivity tools
  • kerning
  • effectively syncing cross-functional teams with multiple stakeholders to overdeliver against KPIs, etc.

That’s it. That’s your whole deal.

However, when Ashely Garth, our Social Media Manager, caught up with us afterwards at our favorite luncheon spot (Arby’s) and we triumphantly produced this very list, she proceeded to inquire as to both how we could possibly come up with such lame guesses, and why on earth didn’t we just watch her interview with Kertis Creative’s Director of Strategy Drew Tucker to figure this out.

Good point. We’re sure glad Ashley is our Social Media Coordinator.

She rapped with Drew just a bit ago, and it turns out you leader-types care about…uh, haven’t watched the video yet…but c’mon now it’s got to be about kerning and apps and trending desserts and stuff right? RIGHT?

Alrighty, let’s watch this thing. Can’t wait for Drew’s “Best Tea-Infused Cake” recipe. We’ll be one step ahead of ya so we’ll leave a trail of convenient time stamps to follow.

On How Design Makes The World Less Polarized (4:54-6:00)


“I truly believe that if we’re being intentional, we’re creating a level of empathetic connection with people. So for me good design is based in empathy, and that’s how we break down polarization.”


Um. We mean, we just thought ya’ll liked apps and stuff. Ashley and Drew really have us thinking now. Empathy? No cake? Breaking down our cultural “us versus them” mindset? What’s going on here?


On Girls In Tech (1:30-3:07)


“Girls In Tech looks to support women moving into tech industries by lowering inequality through training, information, and access to knowledge-based products. I was lucky to be asked by Girls In Tech to create a series of boot camps, two-day workshops that would teach design thinking.”

Huh. Same deal here: seems you’re really into empowering people with the confidence to overcome systemic problems by first understanding what’s going on in the system as a whole—then addressing the root causes.

Good grief this is great stuff.


On Exercising Our Minds (3:12-4:01)


“Creativity has got to be cultivated, very much like patience, interest, or curiosity. It’s a thing you must nurture, and in today’s society we don’t have a lot of time for that. Design thinking is a really great way to work on nurturing creativity.”

Sheesh, that’s important too. What else do Ashley and Drew got cookin’?


On How To Research (6:48-8:15)


“When I’m training folks in design research, I try to get across that there’s always constraints…and they make design better. Within those constraints, go broad first, see everything you can, then go deep, where you can see things that are rich.”

Drew continues with practical steps to find richness, including “strange on-site research methods” most corporate clients aren’t accustomed to.

This is awesome.


On Attention Spans (19:08-20:44)


“The popular thing to say as a media producer is yes, everyone’s attention span is shorter. But Drew the strategist doesn’t believe that. What I think is going on is there’s so much content out in the world, we’re so busy, and that content is delivered so broadly and quickly, we don’t have time to take in too much or make sense of it. Literally at Kertis I schedule time called ‘thinking.’ Part of my job is shutting all that stuff out and looking at what really matters.”

Imagine that—NOT running around reacting to the urgent, but instead scheduling time to focus on what’s important.


On The Importance of “Why” (14:03-15:38)


“Focusing on the ‘why’ is part of the DNA of storytelling. However, during the bootcamp sessions of Girls In Tech, someone would say, ‘This is all great, but at the end of the day it’s all about the money.’ I’m the director of a department so fundamentally I know that’s true. But I don’t know any CEOs who talk that way, at every moment they want to tell a story about why they believe in their product or organization. So there’s a strong desire for most of our clients to tell their story.”

That’s certainly nice to hear — the “bottom line” is important, but it’s not “why” thoughtful CEOs and other leaders do anything. There’s a deeper reason, and as it is with all deep stuff, that reason matters most.

Well, this interview with Drew certainly dispels our previously conceived, infamously off-base notions. It also brings up a good point about what we do here at Extensis.

We’re less about building workflow management platforms that help you maximize ROI on every creative asset (although we’re pretty good at that), and more about providing you, and your teams, the freedom to break down polarization, overcome systemic problems, cultivate creativity, think critically, and tell the important story of “why” you devote your life to all this in the first place.

Or simply said, we help you do the work that matters, so you can help someone else do work that matters too.