In-house Issues: What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

In-house design is at a watershed. This is not hyperbole – it’s a fact. Never before has design been at the forefront of business thinking as it is now. Certainly in the past good design has been celebrated and acknowledged as a driver of sales, but this time there’s a decidedly different and more critical proposition being advanced; that design thinking must be integrated into the very fabric and culture of companies if they are to survive and succeed in today’s complicated global economic environment.

No group within the design community is better positioned to forward this movement than in-house designers. We are right in the middle of the intersection of the business and design spheres. We work alongside the key stakeholders of our companies, see them in the halls, eat lunch with them, join them on multidisciplinary committees. This should afford us opportunities to establish powerful working relationships with them, yet often that does not occur.

Whose fault is that? I would say that as much as we’re prone to blame “the man” for our position as second-class corporate citizens, it is actually our fault that we find ourselves considered merely short order cooks and glorified production artists. We need to grow up, jump off the porch and start running with the big dogs.

Don’t get defensive. I’m not saying the situation we’re in is entirely of our making, though we do need to take responsibility for it if we’re to move forward. Most of us received little, if any, preparation that would enable us to navigate the labyrinthine and often dysfunctional world that is the corporation. Only a small percentage of designers working in or running corporate creative teams have received the kind of relevant management and business training that would allow them to effectively interface with their clients, managers and peers in other departments.

Yet as challenging as these circumstances are, we now find ourselves presented with the possible opportunity of taking that desired seat at the mythical table. We therefore need to make sure we understand proper etiquette and develop a taste for what’s being served up.

In the midst of all this change, we first must figure out what we want to be when we grow up, and then do just that – grow up. This means looking at our companies and determining how and where we can have the biggest impact, understanding what we want out of the deal and, most importantly, charting a focused course on how to get there from here and implementing it.

The purpose of this blog is to provide you as much support as possible in defining yourself as a strategic business professional, a designer and an individual who’s all about making a difference in your company not only by producing well designed deliverables, but also by changing the way your co-workers interact and partner with you and each other. The door is open to effect real change in the way our organizations organize themselves. Are you grown up enough to grab the knob and walk inside?

HOW encourages lively, informative and respectful dialogue. Please do not engage in malicious attacks on individuals or organizations. For more details on proper response etiquette please read our Response Guidelines.

3 thoughts on “In-house Issues: What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

  1. Veronica

    Well said. Looking forward to more posts – nice to know there’s somewhere where we can connect with others in similar positions and facing similar challenges…

  2. SGH

    I’m pretty excited about this site, too. I’m in a leadership position in an in-house team, and I’ve been trying to get to more of an agency mindset throughout the team. Hopefully, if people feel like they are part of an agency-type team, we will get more agency type work. Everyone here has the capability, they just don’t flex their muscles enough because they’ve never been expected to do that before now.