In-house Issues: In-house In Context Part 2

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In a previous post I discussed how it’s important to expand the context from a departmental level to a corporate level when asking for support from departments that, from their perspective, may conflict with their specific mandates.

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It’s just as important to apply that rationale to our activities and priorities as in-house designers. It is easy, when asked to work on seemingly mundane projects, projects with exceedingly tight deadlines and assignments that are outside of our mandated responsibilities to push back on our clients and rush through those types of jobs.

Without taking the time to explore how these seemingly inappropriate requests fit into a larger corporate context, though, we risk unintentionally sabotaging our company’s efforts to succeed and fulfill its mission.

Sales departments are notorious for their lack of planning when it comes to design related needs but I can recall dozens of times when, upon further examination of a rush request, that the offending client had no warning of a client or customer demand, and more importantly, that making good on that demand could bring in a big piece of business for the company.

I know that there’s nothing seemingly more demeaning than having HR or an ad hoc party committee request an internal poster be created for a corporate event. Yet, more often than not, these requests are made with the best of intentions and our contribution to improving company morale (and emphasizing a healthy respect for good design by creating a killer poster no matter how insignificant the event) does have a positive impact on corporate morale.

Then there are those times when we get requests completely outside of our normal responsibilities. In my experience, this has almost always been less about pushing work off onto my team and more about either a client’s lack of understanding of design or a cry for help in an area completely outside of the client’s area of expertise. Again, placing the request into the larger context of serving the corporation often validates the decision to take on the task.

By no means am I advocating becoming a doormat for capricious clients. What I am advocating is, rather than having a knee-jerk reaction of pushing back on a client, that we act responsibly by taking the time to evaluate whether, in the larger context supporting the business of our company, we should accept a particular challenge. By doing so we better serve our company and enhance our reputation with our clients and upper management.

One thought on “In-house Issues: In-house In Context Part 2

  1. Mandy Malloy

    Thanks for this post! Just before Thanksgiving (literally), I got a call from a client with a project that just could not be well-designed in the time frame given. So goes the in-house life.

    I fully agree that there are always two options in a situation like this—to either push back, or embrace the mess and see how we can turn it to our design departments’ benefits. In this case, I recognized an opportunity to walk the client through what really should be a project development cycle instead of a “make this work for the web in the same way it’s worked by fax” situation—but without saying, “we can’t possibly deliver what you want in the time you want it, if you want it done right.”

    I guess I’d call it a passive-assertive approach to the project cycle, if that didn’t sound so creepy 😉

    On the upside, I feel that we were able to not only migrate an old tool to a new technology, but to truly make it better. And, just maybe, this experience will prep the client’s expectations for our next project.

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