There is an often unacknowledged fact about the in-house design community that should be influencing how design organizations, publications and vendors address in-house designers’ needs. A sizable group of corporate designers are working in their companies pretty much on their own as an in-house team of one.
It can be difficult enough to negotiate the left-brain corporate culture with a group of like-minded comrades-in-arms, but I can’t imagine the difficulties that solo in-house designers face with little internal support.
One challenge that I often hear when I speak with these creatives is that they are brought in at a mid to lower level position with little of the authority they need to effectively execute their functions. There is nothing more deadly to success than responsibility without authority. Add to that the fact that many report into managers with little to no understanding of or respect for the design process and you’re pretty much left with a designer who is being set up to fail.
There are some obvious paths to gaining support, such as joining organizations such as AIGA and InSource and attending the HOW and InHOWse conferences along with buying relevant magazines and books, but the fact remains that even those options often don’t address the very unique needs of this group. Ironically, solo innies are probably the most in need of advice and effective strategies for success but the least likely to be able to find it.
I believe a good place to start is by asking questions that will flesh out the needs of this group and then looking at ways to facilitate dialogue around and among single in-house designers. To that end, this Friday’s “Get IN The Vote” will feature a series of questions directed at these creatives who, for all intents and purposes, are stranded on desert islands in the rough seas of their corporate culture. To all you designers looking to send out a message in a bottle – here’s your chance.