Monday, September 07, 2009

In-House Design and Competing Interests

What do you do when you have to design for competing interests? I've found, as a working in-house designer, that people within an organization have personal agendas. Even when people sincerely want to help their organization, they also want to promote their personal careers. Sometimes this is unconscious. Sometimes it is benevolent. But there are times when people, who are insecure, consciously try to win a personal advantage no matter what the costs.

I find these times to be especially trying. I would have to maneuver a virtual minefield of corporate politics just to help the organization succeed through good design. But, yes, I also have a personal agenda. I want to do good work that honors my God, and is befitting of my talent. If that enhances my employer's bottom line, then I've done my job well. That's how I see it at least.

So, he's what I've found to be a good approach in these circumstances:
  • Do what they want. I sometimes have to communicate to each party to find what the issues really are, and try to incorporate them into any design proposal.

  • Do what I know is best. I can take those interests and prepare a strategy that may satisfy everyone involved, and also meet the organizational goals.

  • Do take criticism. Everyone has an opinion. I try to listen. There are sometimes jewels of wisdom contained in them.

  • Do offer a perspective. As a professional, I do have a duty to offer creative solutions to problems. Sometimes I must offer a solution above and beyond what my clients say that they want. This may include going through the trouble of creating a written plan and mock-up in addition to what was originally requested.

  • Do give up petty battles. Besides, I rarely win them, and there are more important issues to worry about like the corporate brand, fulfilling the organizational mission, and creating design that supports them both.

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