In-house Issues: Drinking From A Firehose

Speed is the priority of the 21st century. It trumps quality, quantity, cost effectiveness, sustainability, safety, efficiency AND good design. First to market is one of the best strategies for success in the for-profit corporate sphere. With technology accelerating social, political and environmental change, academic, public and non-profit institutions and organizations are forced to respond more quickly and decisively than ever before.

In-house design teams are one of the key professions impacted by the “need for speed” paradigm. As one of the few groups in organizations that are actually responsible for manifesting and creating design artifacts and solutions based on abstract organizational strategies and tactics, corporate creatives are struggling with striking a balance between quality and expediency.

There’s no boilerplate response for this challenge. Some projects are at such risk of failure on an accelerated schedule that in spite of the slower-to-market risk of lengthening timelines it is the responsibility of the design team to put the brakes on. Only they fully understand the design process and the consequences of taking shortcuts.

Then there are initiatives that can be responsibly completed within a tight deadline, though not as well if more time was afforded the project. Sometimes, in-house designers have to let go of their obsession with perfection and opt for the 80%, it’s good enough, solution.

One thing is certain. If in-house teams abdicate their role in shaping timelines as the pressure builds, they’re setting themselves and their organizations up for failure.