In-house Issues: Tool Or Tycoon


By the very nature of its process, design is an entrepreneurial exercise. Unlike most other professional pursuits that primarily rely on managerial, analytical or maintenance practices, design incorporates action, improvisation and resourcefulness – all decidedly entrepreneurial behaviors. This fact sets the stage for conflict between in-house design teams and their departmental neighbors whose functions put them squarely outside of the innovative sphere.


It could be argued that, because designers are forced to be entrepreneurial because of the process they have to engage in to do their jobs, they’re being unintentionally set up to fail when having to work within a larger innovation resistant organization. There have certainly been enough in-house teams that have either stumbled and been disbanded or been beaten into compliant submission, to support this proposition. But there are enough successful entrepreneurial in-house groups to bolster the notion that the diametrically opposed conservative and innovative mindsets can exist and succeed in the same environment.

This success requires the rare combination of a powerful creative team leader and enlightened management. Which begs the question – are you that articulate, savvy and passionate entrepreneur who is able to partner with clients, department heads and the C-suite in a way that allows your team the flexibility needed to be a true entrepreneurial enterprise? Or are you the cynical, browbeaten corporate cog who follows untested and unquestioned policy, habit and tradition, devaluing you, your team and the practice of design?

Being an entrepreneur is a choice. A choice that should be especially easy to make for us designers who have been trained and encouraged to be entrepreneurial because of the very nature of what we do every day.