An in-house design team head, whom I’d characterize as a young turk who came to his corporate gig from the agency side, has effected a powerful change at the computer manufacturer where he works. Realizing just how much the environment of the ubiquitous cube, that offensive symbol of corporate rigidity that his team was forced to work in, was hampering his group’s ability to work effectively, he set out on a crusade to tear the walls down.
After, what I would assume, was a difficult battle with HR, Facilities, Finance and various upper managers, he succeeding in reconfiguring his team’s workspace to achieve a more open collaborative working environment. That alone is an achievement, but the real crux of the story lies in what happened afterwards.
The director’s peers in other departments began to notice the change and, more importantly, the effect it had on the group leader’s team. They started to realize that the more open environment might benefit their teams as well. Many went to their managers and Facilities and HR to request that their spaces be re-engineered as well. Apparently the company was enlightened enough to honor those requests and now other departments have created workspaces similar to the creative team’s offices.
This story clearly illustrates one of the often ignored, but most powerful, ways that in-house creative teams can contribute to and fundamentally alter their host companies. It’s not just the deliverables that they produce, but the application of the design process to non-design problems, where these groups can have their greatest impact. The sooner that in-house teams recognize and act on this fact, the sooner they will gain the respect they desire and, most importantly, the power to radically change the way their corporations operate.
Tear down the walls and reinvent your companies.