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There’s a problem with making tortillas. The problem is, it’s impossible.

A delicious, homemade corn tortilla has just three ingredients: masa flour, water, and salt. It’s so simple, yet finding the precise water-to-masa ratio is tricky. Too much water, and your dough is gooey, the resulting tortilla thick and unpalatable. Too little, and your tortilla is dry, crumbling apart on the griddle.

How could something so simple be so difficult?

We asked ourselves that question a lot this month. Not because we were patting out tortillas, but because we were nailing down details of this month’s redesign.

I’ve written before about community, authenticity, and change. And while we wanted Big Picture to have a new look and to be newly useful, there were elements some worth keeping. And while I want to plug our new features here – a heavier focus on people in the industry; curated data, trends, and analysis; a design that is informative whether you read for five minutes or 50 – I also wanted to share four surprising things we learned in the process of change:

1) Crowdsourcing works – you’d think 50 people would have 50 different opinions, but we found that asking the same question over and over solidified our own opinions, and helped us see what commonly delighted or frustrated viewers.


2) Personality matters – Spending a day defining the magazine’s readership and personality helped us cull designs that were striking but off-target later.

3) Keep moving – While re-approaching a roadblock after lunch or a day later sometimes gave us clarity, long debates or meetings spent considering options rarely helped us move forward. Simply keeping the process in motion helped us maintain a productive rhythm.

4) Be tough – There were times when the best option was the hardest and most time-consuming way of working. It can be hard to be objective about that, particularly about halfway through any big change when you haven’t yet seen the light at the end of the tunnel.

The more I learn about the large-format world, the more it becomes clear that change is on the horizon, particularly in the way that business is conducted. And if I never master the perfect tortilla, I, like you, hope to get better and better at one thing: change.

Enjoy the new magazine.




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