In-house Issues: Logic Not Lunacy

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Order is where you put a process into place because you want to scale the business to a different level.  Bureaucracy is where nobody understands why you do it.

-Lars Bjork, C.E.O. of QlikTech

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The bane of every in-house designer’s existence is bureaucracy. There are 2 flavors of it, both equally distasteful, that present corporate creatives with some of their biggest challenges. The first is the kind Lar Bjork describes above. The, “Well, we’ve always done it this way” variety (the more stupid of the two) and the cookie-cutter strain where the company applies the same policies and procedures that work for one or two departments to all of the company regardless of whether they are applicable to those other departments or not.

Here’s a hint on how to handle the first bureaucratic roadblock – rather than trying to convince others of their folly, it is better to just ignore that corporate cultural urban myth and do what needs to be done. Any coworker who has drunk so much of the corporate koolaid that he actually doesn’t question inappropriate or counterproductive policies cannot generally be reasoned with. Bottom-line – It is better to ask forgiveness than permission.

Bureaucratic roadblock number two requires a more nuanced approach. There is a rationale behind its one-size-fits-all argument – it’s just flawed. It’s in every in-house designer’s best interest to address this mistaken reasoning with facts. If effectively argued, this approach of rebuttal can not only shut down future policy missteps by management – it can also educate them on the design process and its inherent value.

Rigid standardization, documentation and implementation of departmental SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) can work quite well for departments with fixed inputs and outputs such as HR, Facilities and Operations. For a creative team, though, it can be the kiss of death.

The range of the types of projects a design team takes on varies wildly in scope, media and objectives. This results in an equally diverse range of final deliverables. For an in-house team to successfully execute on its projects it needs a wide range of options and the freedom and flexibility to explore and execute on the best option available for solving the problem being presented. Standardized policies often forbid corporate creatives from working with the best vendors for a particular project, shuffling the team to adjust to new business,

 

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