In-house Issues: Righties and Lefties

Despite the topical political implications of the headline, this piece will not be an analysis of conservative and liberal values and beliefs. It is about right-brain and left-brain thinking styles and mindsets.

Ironically, while the business community is embracing the right-brain creative culture, in-house designers, right-brain thinkers by nature, had better consider adopting some left-brain thinking styles.



I recently spoke with a colleague who interviewed for a high-level creative director position at a mushrooming consumer product company. He is up against some heavy hitters in the in-house design community yet the CMO, after my friend had presented a deck on branding strategies, told him that he was the only candidate who had articulated a coherent well thought-out and clear presentation on the topic. Don’t get me wrong, I very much want my associate to get the job, but what does that CMO’s comment say about the in-house design community’s ability to live and succeed in the left-brain business world?

As rewarding as it is to be validated by books such as Daniel Pink’s “A Whole New Mind” and Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink”, we mostly already know this stuff, heck, we’ve lived it and celebrated it our entire lives. What most of us haven’t been taught and don’t come by instinctively are the more analytical, linear left-brain business skills and aptitudes.

As unpleasant as this may sound, you may want to consider taking continuing education business classes, attending more business-focused conferences, reading books on business topics and subscribing to business journals, newspapers and periodicals. A well-balanced brain could be a boon to your single-minded pursuit of professional excellence.

2 thoughts on “In-house Issues: Righties and Lefties

  1. Michelle Kasper

    This post baffles my mind because I’ve always considered the ability to organize information in a more understandable way to be one of the most important jobs of a designer. If a designer isn’t thinking about who will be receiving the message and how to reach that person in the most appropriate way, then all they are doing is “making things pretty.” I’m sure most of us have heard that quote used to describe designers, and I hope I am not the only one who cringes at those words. I’ve always believed that what sets designers apart from fine artists is that it is crucial for a designer to be able to use their creative brain in unison with their analytical brain.

    1. Andy Epstein

      Absolutely, Michelle. Yet what I find from speaking with other in-house designers and the non-designer managers and co-workers who work with them is that there is a breakdown occurring in the relationship between in-house designers and their business peers.

      It seems as if the analytical and left-brain thinking that designers apply to their design projects is not always being employed to their more abstract business interactions and functions. Focusing those left-brain aptitudes on non-design problems isn’t a huge leap (as you note – designers are left-brainers too), it just requires reframing those non-design roles in a way designers can get their heads around. This is why, taking business classes and reading business books and periodicals are all that are needed to kick-start that shift.

      Thanks for bringing up the fact that we already possess the needed skills. I should have referred to that important fact in my post.