In-house Issues: Where To?

The most fundamental question after why, is where. As far as “why in-house?” goes there’s a different answer for every designer. Maybe it’s the security, maybe you like more structure or the benefits or working in cross-functional teams. Whatever the reason, well, here you are. You’re working in an environment that is very different from that of an ad agency or design firm. Most likely your not part of the core business, you interact with non-designers on a regular basis and there are a multitude of corporate imposed rules, policies, compliance mandates and regulations that intrude on your workday on a daily basis. As my 13-year-old would say, “Whatever”.


So the question to pose is, “Where to?” What’s the vision, the goal, the desired destination?  I’d offer that this question isn’t quite so personal and unique as why – at least not for the in-house community. On the highest level the answer is twofold. First, and most obvious, it is that we be afforded the opportunity to contribute to our companies by utilizing all of our creative and strategic skills, aptitudes and potential. With the current, almost universal, corporate mandates of standardization, consistency and risk-averse policies and lack of understanding of design, this is a pretty tall order.

The second, more aspirational, answer is that in-house designers might one day create a fundamental positive shift in their companies by infusing their corporate culture with design thinking and the design values of creative inquiry, disciplined but organic process and innovation.

I believe that the best way to achieve these goals is by empowering in-house designers to become powerful advocates through professional development and educating and inspiring the business sphere about design by concerted outreach through the existing channels of business conferences, publications and the recruitment of respected business opinion leaders.

Pretty simple, huh? So one last question, “Who’s on board?”