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InSource Roundtable - Boston

Design Career Path: Boston

Boston, MA
“You are not alone.” That was the clear message that resonated with leaders of in-house creative services who came together to participate in the InSource Regional Roundtable on June 20, 2012, as part of their HOW Design Live 2012 Conference experience in Boston, Massachusetts. Facilitated by InSource President Andy Brenits, this opportunity to connect with peers and share insights on how to overcome career path challenges stimulated lively conversations focused on ways to promote best practices in the workplace. InSource provides the following takeaway messages from this event so participants can consider applying various ideas in their workplace. Advice and Inspiration for Leaders of In-House Creative Teams • Create a mentorship program. • Work/life balance really is important and requires thought and planning to achieve. • Keep your boss informed, as well as document everything. • Be aware that it’s powerful when someone explains something in a way that you can understand, creating the “Aha!” moment. • Always have a right-hand person to help you out in an emergency. Assign someone on your staff to fill in for you when you are out at meetings or on vacation. • Do what you love and the money will come. • Coach your staff. Don’t do the work for them. • Recognize that in-house design leaders are more often than not the brand manager. • Be aware that skill sets are becoming more digital. • In order to be successful, you must be willing to take risks. • Be aware that people don’t quit their jobs; they quit their bosses. • Grow your team organically by training your staff to develop new skill sets instead of hiring from outside, which can motivate existing staff because it allows a more robust career path for them. • Train additional skills for staff retention. • Offer gift cards for those who complete training courses for professional development. • Inspire people to grow their skills to stay relevant in today’s market. • Use a print production/pre-press checklist as a helpful tool for training staff as well as providing guidance to freelancers. • Set up Lunch and Learn sessions to share knowledge across your team. Ask a staff member to present a new process or discuss a new software trick recently learned. Areas of Advancement for the Manager • Move to a project management role. • Motivate and inspire others through key initiatives that managers must be able to implement with their staff. • Write for blogs, write a book, write creative articles—writing can get your name out there and be a great networking device. • “Be a thought leader.” • Get involved in a creative organization. How to Advance Your Staff to Further Your Own Career • Move smaller, less complex projects down to your staff. • Delegate project coordination to your staff, and back off from hands-on work. • Encourage your staff to take on biggerpicture projects. How to Advance Within Your Organization • Keep learning—education and knowledge are keys to personal growth. • Understand what social media means. • Add value, understand your company and be a valuable business partner so you will not be seen as “just overhead.” • Be a strategic thought leader, understand your stakeholders’ objectives and invent processes to move their business forward. • Learn how to manage people you can’t see. You have to develop the skills for leading people through WebEx, conference calls and Skype. • Improve your listening skills because you can’t always see body language or reactions on people’s faces. • Improve your communication skills for making presentations and doing internal client networking. • Become a business partner, and help build the business. • Understand metrics and how to create them because metrics are powerful business tools that can help you manage your business. • Design management degrees are available at some universities and are worthwhile. • Understanding each individual’s strengths will help the manager assign projects and move initiatives forward, instead of trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. • Empower your staff to take the initiative to learn and expand their skills. Have them own their projects and present their work to internal clients. • Challenge your staff to be a part of the solution, not just the problem. • Be able to present to the C-suite. Bring staff members with you who want to take on management duties. • Always ask for help if you don’t know the answer—be inquisitive. • Know your industry and firm. • Understand budgeting; seek internal help if this is not a strong point. Boston, MA, InHOWse Conference Words of Inspiration: “Making the complicated simple is creativity.” • “Be strategic with any plan. You can win a case based on a solid plan—not because people love the creative.” • “Hire people who are better than you.” • “Design your career.” • “Know when to coach from the sideline.” • “People follow positive influences.” • “Always come through on your promises.” • “The grass isn’t always greener. Water your own grass.” • “Don’t use design terms when presenting; clients don’t know or care about PMS numbers.” • “Deliver presentations in a unique and compelling way.” • “Stop assisting and start enabling.” • “Don’t just talk about it, do it.” • “Input is key to successful output.” • “Success is not making the same mistake twice.” • “The entire team should be able to articulate our added value. Create a department elevator speech.” • “Define what’s next, and do it now.” Special Thanks To Our Partners and Supporters: Brilliant Graphics, MICA Consulting Group, Mohawk and Neenah Paper for their generous donation of partnerships, materials and services to support the work of InSource! InSource also greatly appreciates the assistance of the organizers of the HOW Design Live 2012 Conference for meeting space arrangements and promotion of this InSource event.

Design Career Path: Cary

Cary, North carolina
“You are not alone” has become a way of life for many in-house creative team managers and their staff as they deal with many complex workplace challenges these days. Taking the initiative to focus on personal growth is an effective strategy for creative team recruitment, retention, and advancement among in-house design leaders. Sharing practical ideas about how to make this happen in a world of multitasking demands was the focus of this InSource Roundtable held on June 5, 2012, on the campus of SAS Institute in Cary, North Carolina. Facilitated by InSource Vice President Kevin Kearns, leaders of creative teams came together to share their insights and learn from one another. InSource provides the following takeaway messages from this event so participants can consider applying these practical ideas in their workplace. Insights on Expanding Your Own Value and Your Team’s Value to Others: • Mentoring, coaching, taking on additional responsibilities, board membership, and teaching on leadership, design, or branding can be useful avenues to explore. • Always be on the lookout for opportunities for your staff so they can learn through onsite and offsite training, increase their knowledge of print production and new technologies, and identify goals and objectives for personal growth. • Be aware that everyone is thinking about their careers these days. Yet no clear infrastructure for career path development may exist in many business environments. • Cultivating an advocate or advocates at a high level in your company can be very helpful. Also identifying advocates who are peers and others at all levels throughout the organization is important, which involves marketing awareness about the work of your creative team to others in the company. • Focus your efforts on credibility building, having a solid team in place and helping them, and making your team as successful as they can be. • Show others your ability for strategic thinking to prove your team’s value and what it brings to the company. • Inspire your team on an ongoing basis. • Determine useful metrics and analytical data for creative work, including measures for how people react to what you’re creating and tracking time for each project so comparisons can be made to the estimated fair market value of outsourcing work versus real costs of using in-house resources. • Enter the same design competitions as agencies, which can be a tool for others to better understand the credibility of the work of in-house creative teams. Validation by external elevation not only helps build morale, but can be used to prepare “show and tell” portfolio samples in the career marketplace beyond your own company. • Take the initiative to help other teams in the company apply for awards. For example, do the photography work and writing for award applications, putting together submission packages and meeting deadlines. Doing for others will increase your value to others. • Consider creating your own in-house awards initiative, rewarding personal recognition to others when projects go well. Also working with Human Resources in building a supportive culture of collaboration may be an effective course of action to pursue. • Enter awards programs that recognize excellence in business, not only design awards programs. Spread the word when your creative team receives recognition from external sources. • During performance appraisals, ask team members the question, “What do you like to do outside of work?” Their responses may trigger some creative ways to offer individualized “perks” for them. Special Thanks to Our Partners and Supporters: Brilliant Graphics MICA Consulting Group Mohawk Neenah Paper We thank them for their generous donation of partnerships, materials, and services to support the work of InSource! InSource also greatly appreciates the gracious hospitality and donation of meeting space at SAS for this event.  
Massiomo_Post Event_500X220

An Evening With Massimo Vignelli

New York, NY
When the legendary Massimo Vignelli speaks, in-house creative professionals listen. Massimo shared his insights and showed many examples of the power of design from his extraordinary work over the past 60 years with the crowd of nearly 100 people who came together for “An Evening With Massimo Vignelli” in  New York City on April 25, 2013, at FIT. With opening remarks by InSource President Andy Brenits, this InSource event provided a provocative perspective on the far-reaching impact and longevity of good design. Kicking off the event was a premier public viewing of Mohawk’s, “What Will  You Make Today?” This 10-minute animated video narrated by Massimo describes his grid-centric approach to book design, noting that “the grid is the underwear of the book.” He explains that “it’s not something that you see. It’s just like underwear:  You wear it, but it’s not to be exposed.” This video can be viewed via Mohawk Live, a new, free mobile app. Some feedback from participants of this InSource event included: “Hearing Vignelli speak for 90 minutes was like having a workshop in how to design thoughtfully, strive professionally and love deeply. He is inspirational, on so many levels.” “I learned the major difference between a designer and stylist. I completely agree that designers are like doctors. Massimo has been a great inspiration to me all my life.” “It was a great event and a dream come true for some of us.” “It was an incredibly inspiring evening.” “The Massimo Vignelli talk was fascinating.  The consistency of his minimalist vision across so many different disciplines and his focus on ‘intellectual elegance’ was truly inspiring.” “Massimo was awesome and inspiring!  Thanks for putting on such a wonderful event.” Special thanks to our Global Partners, Event Sponsors and Supporters for this event: InSource extends its heartfelt appreciation to Massimo Vignelli for his generous donation of time, talent, and interest in InSource! InSource also greatly appreciates the assistance of the staff at the Fashion Institute of Technology for their fabulous meeting space for this event, as well as the exquisite refreshments catered by Aramark. We thank Adobe (, Brilliant Graphics (, FunctionFox  (, GDUSA (,  HOW (, Mohawk (, Neenah Paper (,  Shutterstock (,  Lisa Tanner (, and Utopia ( for their generous donation of sponsorships, materials, and services to support the work of InSource! Keep the Conversation Going! Discuss this event and connect with your creative peers from around the globe by joining InSource’s LinkedIn group. And if you couldn’t make this event, don’t worry: InSource has just announced several more events planned in 2013! Gallery of Event Photos: (click on each photo to see a larger version)

Design Career Path: NJ

New York, New York
“An amazing designer can design for anything” has been a long-standing belief among many managers of In-house creative teams. Yet, with the ever-evolving changes driven by innovative technologies that demand expertise in print, web, and social media communications, creative professionals are discovering that they all need to know something about everything. InSource brought together leaders of creative teams to share their insights on the topic of The Design Career Path: Career Development for In–House Creatives and Managers 1.0 on April 19, 2012. Facilitated by Robin Colangelo, Director of Brand and Design at White & Case based in New York City, this InSource Roundtable was held in conjunction with the Thinking Creatively conference at Kean University in Union, New Jersey. InSource provides the following takeaway messages from this event so participants can consider applying these practical ideas in their workplace. Career paths are indeed changing over time. Instead of focusing primarily on print, creative teams are now called upon to create campaigns with multiple touch points including brochures with QR codes that lead to websites with video and animation. Although all areas are overlapping, it’s hard for managers to make this overlapping seamless. Multitasking can be overwhelming. Everyone is trying to figure it out as they go along. Ideas to Foster Your Career as an In–House Creative Team Leader >Use LinkedIn for building and cultivating your own network for career growth, personal development, and exposure. > Attending conferences and trade shows is not only a good way to inspire your team and provide opportunities for them to network with peers outside of their own workplace, but it’s also good for leaders of creative teams. Conference and trade show examples include: the ADC Paper Expo on May 23, 2012, in New York City; Stationery Show on May 20-23, 2012, at the Javits Center in New York City; Interactive Design Conference on September 27–29, 2012, in Washington, DC, and on October 29–31, 2012, in San Francisco, CA; and InHOWse Managers Conference on June 21–22, 2012, in Boston, MA. > Teach a class outside of the workplace as a creative outlet. > Consider active participation and Board leadership opportunities with relevant organizations and associations to further your business practices and enlarge/enhance your network. > Build solid relationships with leaders in other areas of your company. Listen to their challenges and offer suggestions if possible so you will be seen as a resource and a partner, not only an expenditure. > Explore executive leadership programs offered through a local university or Chamber of Commerce for different perspectives on your work. > Identify opportunities for taking on new responsibilities within your company, making an effective approach of presenting what you need and providing metrics with both the dollar amount and the cost savings of the proposed initiative in a compelling way as a business leader. > Institute a chargeback system for your department to educate others about measures for both cost and time savings of your in–house creative team versus outside agencies. > Find a mentor(s) for yourself; someone you trust outside the company can sometimes help you come up with solutions that don’t occur to you without having to showcase your dilemmas in front of your creative team first. Ideas to Foster Further Development in Your In–House Staff > As managers, it’s part of our job to elevate people who report to us and train them to be future managers and leaders. We need to train them to take on some of our responsibilities so we can grow in our current job, be more strategic, and manage our team more effectively. Make it a point to off-load smaller tasks to others. > As the demands of the workplace move from primarily print to integrate with digital technologies, find ways to be sure the skill sets of all individuals on the creative team stay relevant and don’t become obsolete by providing opportunities to learn additional software and increase proficiencies in web-based communications. Onsite training and mentoring or coaching, as well as classes offered away from the office, can help your staff learn and grow. The following training resources were identified as useful: Adobe training, Creative Edge,, and New Horizons. > Create a brand standards manual, as well as workflow process guidelines, to establish consistency and clarify expectations. > Motivate longtime staff with limited career promotion opportunities to learn and grow by giving them projects in which people higher up in the company will see their work, including becoming more active in meetings with clients. > Advocate for your creative team to be part of the decision making in choosing an outside agency when needed to alleviate the threat of the agency versus the in-house team dynamics. > Consider hiring a group of freelancers when you need to outsource a project. For example, MICA offers such teams, which can be more cost-effective and efficient than hiring an agency. > Assign a key person(s) on your team to stay on top of the latest technologies and trends so this knowledge can be shared with the rest of the team. > Create templates for email campaigns to save time and increase brand consistency. > Hire hybrid designers who can design for print and web plus understand social media. > Use Skype for video conferences to assist with managing staff in multiple locations more effectively. > Set up a mentoring system for your staff (eg, pairing up senior designers with junior designers). Team Building and Staff Appreciation Ideas > Occasionally have lunch or a pizza party with your team. > Organize a Happy Hour/”Bar Night”/Dos Equis Time for your team after work hours. > Consider various offsite team building activities, such as a cooking class, bowling, pottery class, volunteer work, afternoon at the museum, and other well-executed adventures. > Give team members the day off on their birthday. > Give interesting homework assignments for your team for group discussion at staff meetings, such as “Bring in something retro” and share different definitions of retro, or “Bring in something you don’t like and explain why.” Alternate Dream Jobs Shared by Our NJ Roundtable Participants “If not at my current job, I would be exhibiting my paintings and other fine arts.” “I would be in horticulture and nurseries making things grow, or working with a nonprofit.” “I would be a jewelry designer or decorator.” “I would be in sports and do some coaching.” “I would be a decorator of celebrity stars (who are constantly changing their minds), shopping all around the world.” “I would focus on the fine arts and teach art to children.” “I would be a caterer and also teach students about job/business opportunities.” “I would be a photographer for National Geographic and travel around the world.” “I would manage a hotel, which is my backup plan if my job in advertising doesn’t work out.” “I would be a gourmet chef.” “I would be an arbitrator because I like solving problems.” “I would teach children.” “I would be a full-time volunteer.” Special Thanks To Our Partners and Supporters: Brilliant Graphics, MICA Consulting Group, Mohawk, and Neenah Paper for their generous donation of partnerships, materials, and services to support the work of InSource! InSource also appreciates being part of the 2012 Thinking Creatively conference, thanks to Kean University and the Art Directors Club of New Jersey.


New York, NY
The next time in-house creative professionals are asked to justify their value, it may be useful to whip out the following equation to start the conversation: (Productivity ÷ Accessibility) + Accuracy + Brand Compliance = Value In other words, high productivity is what every manager of in-house creative teams strives to achieve on a daily basis. Unlike external agencies that may or may not be accessible depending on the competing priorities serving multiple clients on a 24/7 basis, in-house creative teams can develop workflow processes that efficiently and effectively triage and streamline their operations to meet the needs of internal clients. In-house creative teams can apply their state-of-the-art skills and expertise to execute deliverables with attention to accuracy and brand compliance. Metrics, more than bravado and fancy rhetoric, can make an objective case to document value. Most important, building strong relationships with people throughout the organization is the key to achieving value recognition in the corporate setting. That’s the premise that brought together a total of 56 participants to attend the InSource Roundtable Event on the topic of The Value Equation: Creating, Promoting and Earning Value Recognition for In-House Creative Organizations, which was held in Boston, Chicago, and New York City on June 23, 2011. These candid discussions took place in three different locations, and the challenges and concerns expressed by the participants were universal. Some discussion topics from the three roundtables  included: Ways to Describe the Role of In-House Creative Teams. Articulating the benefits of in-house creative teams. Best-case scenarios for working with outside agencies. Considerations for chargeback systems. Questions to Ask Ourselves about proving our value, changing perceptions of our worth, effective management of our teams, how to motivate our teams, and positioning our department. How to Promote/Market In-House Creative Teams In New York and Chicago attendees were invited to continue the discussion afterwards off-site and network with other attendees, while in Boston attendees enjoyed a tour of Continuum. Registered attendees also received contact information for everyone who registered for networking, and a PowerPoint deck of the presentations led by our moderators. Special thanks to Getty Images, the Continuum, and the staff of the HOW Conferenceand Wunderland for their valuable assistance, as well as Brilliant Graphics andNeenah Paper for their generous donation in printing materials distributed at this InSource event!

Today’s Changing Organization: Operational Models for Inhouse Creative Teams

New York, NY
New York, Dallas, Seatle, Minneapolos May 19, 2010 Thanks to the many participants from across the United States who provided some great feedback and input at the very first InSource Regional Roundtable. Here you’ll find some of the insights we learned from all of the participants, contact information for everyone who registered and a PowerPoint deck of the presentations led by our moderators. Again a big thank you to The Creative Group for hosting us, to Twill Printing for helping us out with meeting materials and to all of you for sharing your experiences with the rest of us. Participants included a wide range of individuals from independent designers and creative directors to department heads. Tiering of jobs Many organizations tier their jobs, some by urgency, some by the need to be first to market, others by the “requestor” be it a department/line of business. Who sets up the tiering system was discussed; is it the sole responsibility of the agency; or should business partners be involved as well? Tiering can sometimes help to eliminate needless editing by getting teams to focus more of their time/energy on the high-level, high-value projects. Organizational structure The hybrid model is used most often; although one participant had a 100% outsourced model. Managing the freelance pool varied; sometimes it was a centralized function; other participants noted by individuals within the company could hire on their own freelancers (concern expressed about brand standards) Rather than waiting for someone to come to you suggesting a freelancer, share with management your list of freelancers, when you use them, in what instances.  Be proactive versus reactive. Having a good bank of freelancers helps to even out workflow; while continuing to meet project deadlines. Outsourcing and Off Shoring Of the companies using either the hybrid or eternal workforce models, some also use off shore resources for design or production support. Outsourcing and off shoring are not the same. Outsourcing includes having on-site designers who are not company employees, while off shoring is sending work to third-party contractors in India, Ireland, the Philippines, etc. Outsourced services can be either freelance designers hired directly by department management, or on-site workers managed by a third party agency. One model used with on-site outsourced design resources has staff creative directors (who are client facing) writing the creative briefs and developing the creative ideas. They then hand the project details over to an onsite coordinator employed by an outsourced company to manage the onsite-outsourced staff of designers who execute the creative idea. Project Management The project management role was used in two of the organizations represented.  Project Managers play a critical role; manage the kickoff meeting, set all the schedules, keep all the integrated tasks on schedule These are skilled project management professionals; roles are in additional to account executive team One team holds a RAM (Resource Allocation Meeting) to discuss each job and priorities Use of technology to assist with capacity/scheduling Time/job tracking is a useful management tool providing visibility on number of projects, capacity Several systems were mentioned, InfoWit, Silent Partner, Clients and Profits. Ultimate goal is to establish actual job/time averages to help better schedule/manage projects A digital asset management tool can also save time by managing images and copy; although server space may be an issue How to move from a service provider model to advisors/strategists Strong creative leadership is needed to position the department as being advisors versus simply design Showing that there’s a business value to creative is critical Testing of creative can add legitimacy to the creative and avoid ungrounded opinions Position the team as “creative professionals” Be sure to confirm key messaging upfront through well-written, targeted creative brief.  The brief also shows that it’s more than just about ‘design’ Impact of Social Media Creative Group made available an informative document called “Social Media Job Descriptions” Teams are just now testing how to drive interest in campaigns through Facebook and Twitter. Having someone to manage/review content; “interactive writer” is a new position. Does this function belong in the creative/agency or with the online/interactive team? Use of product testimonials on You Tube has been powerful How to keep creative fresh and continue to motivate creative teams Creative Group distributed a white paper “In-Spired: Bringing out the best in your In-House Design Team” One team follows the ROWE (Results only work environment) model where individuals are responsible for setting their own time and production isn’t measured by physical presence in the office.  Best Buy model. Doing white board brainstorming sessions not only sparks creativity; but is more efficient than concepting tight comps Topics for additional discussion/input on the InSource web site Tiering of jobs.  What are the criteria?  Who is successfully using a job tiering model?  Everything can’t be a priority. What agency tracking software are teams using?  How have they helped improve efficiency? Do companies have a social media policy?  Can we post some examples? Can we post examples of good creative briefs? What is your ideal work structure? Three topics in regard to structure: Process Leadership alignment: make sure that all leaders are in communication so independent groups can effectively execute strategies and draw upon a combined energy Corporate Communications and Creative departments report up to the same leadership Form a communications group made up of relevant parties: Planning, PR, Brand Managers, Creative, Service, Web, Sales, Product Project ownership – make sure there is a clear owner who can shepherd a job through and maximize it’s value/impact Creativity Get the best talent from the beginning Build in incentives/penalties (praise, fire, probation, bonuses, etc.) Bring creative team to the table in the beginning Conferences and training are an important part of a team’s growth, can be used for incentives Work Environment Open, exciting spaces Discussion about the Harvard study showing that workplace environment was viewed as more important in job satisfaction over pay increases People tend to adopt workplace environment as their own, showing pride and honor which in turn shows in the quality of their work What the ideal inhouse creative organization looks like (on paper) Known as strategists/problem solvers Would manage execution and implementation externally Business of design is a thought process Graphic(s) design is execution Focus of art directors time spent on developing big ideas The model relationship of architect and engineer is similar in nature to where inhouse creative leaders ought to position themselves (as the architect) Creative Services should manage relationships with agencies Clear control – more inhouse? Inhouse is brand champion Inhouse is relationship manager Centralized procurement Annual performance evaluations for agencies too Open internal communications Core teams Personal ownership Talent taught to think different Professional development Cool environment Writers


Madison, New Jersey
More than 70 creative professionals came together on November 12, 2008, to focus on some of the challenges and opportunities that in-house creative teams face these days. This InSource event was held at The Mansion on the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey. With featured speakers Emily Cohen (a consultant to creative professionals who provides guidance on effective staff, client and process management strategies, work segmentation improvements, metrics development and customized teamwork training) and Moira Cullen (a design strategist, writer and educator with extensive experience in the corporate world who is now working with The Hershey Company), this full-day event provided practical insights on effective management strategies. Thanks to Xerox, The Boss Group, ColorEdge, Mohawk Paper and the Rothman Institute of Entrepeneurial Studies at Fairleigh Dickinson University for their support of this relevant and successful event! Building and Managing an Internal Design Team Focusing on ways for building and managing an internal design team, Emily Cohen captured everyone’s attention with her depiction of a workplace driven by chaos rather than strategy. Creative teams that are spending most of their time and energy “fighting fires” need to find a better way to work. Five key  components to build and manage a successful in-house creative team are: (1) strong leadership and management, (2) well-defined client interaction, (3) well-developed organizational structure and role clarity, (4) effective management systems and (5) creative collaboration and inspired teamwork. “Whatever you do at the highest level will run the rest of the team,” said Emily, using the phrase, “a fish stinks from the head down,” to describe what happens when inspired leadership is lacking. Emily provided plenty of recommendations for making improvements, starting with a clear understanding of attributes that define an inspired leader versus a strong manager: “The inspired leader builds a strong connection with client leadership; navigates client politics well; champions both clients and staff alike; exerts influence; takes initiative; leads by example; leads business growth and strategy; is visionary and inspiring; is willing to embrace and lead change; and helps others realize their potential. The strong manager sets and achieves goals; manages by example; inspires and motivates the team; directs and plans projects; supports and guides change; measures results and assesses performance; teaches, educates and mentors staff to improve and grow; and implements and manages change.” “Role clarity is very important,” according to Emily. Her advice is to assign specific roles to the creative team and to communicate this to all members of the team. She outlined critical attributes of the roles of politician (“a person who is great at working with all levels as an advocate for the creative team”), cheerleader (“a person who comes to work happy every day and is excited about design and the team”), industry activist (“a person who takes responsibility to be informed of the latest trends”), tech guru (“a Mac-savvy person who shares enthusiasm for technology”), bad guy/enforcer (“a person who has the ability to say ‘no’ in response to unrealistic demands  from others, but can also say what the team can do”), and emotional quarterback (“a person who can navigate the inevitable drama in working with creatives” and “defuse others before emotions escalate”). Recommendations for effective management systems include developing measurable job descriptions; conducting performance evaluations (“usually requires more than Human Resources procedures”); making promotions based on internal achievements, skill set and passion—not longevity; organizing productive project and department meetings (at least quarterly); establishing process maps, workflow management systems and schedules, and a procedures manual; having yearly offsite team retreats that are playful and collaborative; and providing ongoing individualized training for all members of the creative team. Emily provided highlights of a proprietary work segmentation management tool that her team uses to evaluate each department’s workload. Projects are organized into 3 to 5 levels of project tiers, based on an evaluation against two axis: strategic importance to the organization (not the individual making the request) and complexity of execution. Work segmentation allows creatives to better align the right level resources and the right level process to each project tier. For more ideas, visit Breaking Down the Silos “There is a huge opportunity and need for in-house design in today’s businesses,” declared Moira Cullen. “Design is a strategic tool of 21st century marketing. It gives tangible substance to the visceral function of brand strategy and aligns all touchpoints with brand ideas.” Moira speaks with great passion about the role of design in the evolution of brand collaboration. She also communicates a keen awareness of the day-to-day realities and struggles of working as in-house creative professionals, always on the lookout to take the initiative in helping others understand that “good design is good business.” “We live in a world structured in silos,” said Moira, noting that brand is often regarded as one silo and design is regarded as another silo. “Turf wars are destructive, can devastate an organization, waste resources, and kill productivity. There is no silver bullet (that is, no right answer) on how to overcome silos.” To provide a broader “big picture” context for discussion, Moira outlined some of the key historical milestones relating to brand management and design management. She compared perceptions of “brand=marketing” (regarded as intangible and an investment with added value) versus “design=production” (regarded as tangible [“a thing, n ot a process”] and an expense [“not an investment”] with added cost). She described “the business mind” (taking a “what is” mindset that approaches problem solving based on rational thinking with the support of analysis, focu sed on “decision making”) versus “the design mind” (taking a “what can be” mindset that approaches problem solving based on a questioning of basic assumptions and channels creativity through human needs, focused on “sense making”). She then reported on research about how companies think differs from how consumers think, with the important finding that 70% of decisions consumers make are based on emotional elements and 30% of decisions consumers make are based on rational elements. Emotion and engagement are critical considerations when consumers are facing “an abundance of good choices.” Therefore, our understanding has evolved from transaction marketing to relationship marketing to emotional and symbolic branding. A useful analogy for the need for brand collaboration is to consider a hospital emergency room as a place of crisis that requires physicians of differing specialties to set aside their structured “silo-ization” and work together for the common goal—to save the life of a person in a medical crisis. Likewise, design and marketing functions need to work together with mutual respect to achieve a common goal—the business success of a brand. Moira also described the emergence of “connect and develop” as a legitimate business principle. Her practical advice: Start with 5 people as part of the value network (a value network is “any web of relationships that generate tangible and intangible value…through complex dynamic exchanges”) and try to break down the silos in thinking. With clear and consistent communication over time, people can begin to see that design is part of the business model, not only supportive. “Think of design as the best conversation you and your organization can have, with an emphasis on your customers’ needs,” said Moira. “Talk about the design; don’t just show it and assume it speaks for itself (eg, explain that ‘this font was chosen because…,’ articulating the strategy in business terms instead of design terms). Align to act toward business objectives, adding value to advance the objectives of the company.” “Design is a business function with value that extends throughout an organization, although it often is not seen that way,” Moira added. “Design matters. Design will help solve the problem, not save the day.” “It takes time, courage, and stamina to compete in a different value creation space,” she concluded. “The battles are real, and it’s hard work to build trust and gain respect. Yet, the more effective the in-house design function is, the more effective business units are in producing significant business goals.” The Need for Real-World Solutions These prepared remarks from these two speakers generated lively question-and-answer roundtable discussions among attendees, covering such topics as how in-house creative teams have to earn their place at the table by being aligned with business objectives; the need to set realistic expectations and accept responsibility for one’s part in any failure/learning that occurs; on-the-job learning about business skills and best practices in design management “to run as a business”; account management versus creative development; and the usefulness of case studies in communicating to others how design adds value. Participants shared candid observations about the need to learn from one another on ways to confront challenges and embrace opportunities as in-house creative professionals. Special thanks to Xerox, The Boss Group, ColorEdge, Mohawk Paper and the Rothman Institute of Entrepeneurial Studies at Fairleigh Dickinson University for their support of this relevant and successful event!

White Noise – How A Predominantly White Label Created So Much Noise For Publix And Its In-House Team

lakeland, Florida
Building a high-performance creative team with staying power in the corporate setting is a formidable challenge. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was the development of the new package design system for the Publix brand private label and the in-house creative team that moved this initiative forward. Creative professionals who came together in October 2007 for the InSource Fall Event called “White Noise – How A Predominantly White Label Created So Much Noise For Publix And Its In-House Team” had the extraordinary opportunity to learn firsthand how this work has generated success for Publix. Hosted at the Publix Super Markets Corporate Office in Lakeland, Florida, this half-day event focused on major insights of this work from an in-house perspective, with an emphasis on various aspects that are relevant to other corporate creative teams. Tim Cox, Creative Services Director for Publix who works closely with a team of more than 50 creative professionals, presented an in-depth case study of the Publix private label redesign. Within the context of this creative team’s role in providing focus for the visual and written expression of the Publix brand, Tim described the evolution of the creative process; the need to establish clear objectives; the importance of research – including the use of focus groups and customer intercepts at Publix stores – in building a strong case for the redesign recommendation; and the implementation of decisions made relating to this initiative. With respect to the creative approach, Tim used the words of Jazz legend Charles Mingus to communicate the mindset of their work: “Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” “To be simple and effective is hard work,” said Tim, noting that in today’s world with so many gadgets and bells and whistles, it takes restraint to be simple and resist the impulse to decorate one’s work. “Our approach was to elevate the focus of our Publix branded products from ‘price’ to ‘price + quality = smart value.’” Key elements of the redesign were the consistent use of a color band and Publix brand mark, unique imagery, typography/proprietary usage and decisions about color, calm space and architecture. These components also became tools for assessing effectiveness in achieving the stated objectives – namely, to sell more products by increasing customer awareness and improving value perception and to align with Publix positioning – and for making enhancements later on. Once the corporate go-ahead to proceed with the redesign was given in 2002, the rollout began in 2003. Tim and his team were given three years to complete a full-blown system redesign, with the herculean task of making system conversions for all product SKUs (SKUs or stock keeping units are identifiers for billable entities used in product inventory systems). Achieving this goal required assistance from external resources for various production aspects of the project. The results: Publix discovered how to achieve design simplicity in the marketplace and to stand out on the shelf. This has had a favorable impact on the sales of Publix private label products that endures over time. Building on the substantial equity of the brand and a track record of positive product experiences among Publix customers, customers now have an increased awareness of Publix products and are making purchasing decisions accordingly. Customer feedback comments are carefully tracked and reveal candid opinions about the impact of the redesign. Examples: “I found myself drawn to the delightfully new and innovative packaging” and “It is clean, fresh looking and simple; my pantry is looking really cool!!” Tim shared ten specific “lessons learned” that have been instrumental in the continued growth and development of the Publix creative team: • Hire people who are (or have the potential to become) better than you. • Treat individuals on your creative team really well; people are your number-one resource. • Define objectives up front and obtain agreement to objectives from decision makers before presenting concepts. • Request a second opinion – from someone you can trust. • Be disciplined, and be a designer, not a decorator. • Create appreciation for design within the company. • Convert any skeptics by meeting their objectives and achieving results. • Build relationships throughout the organization. • Demonstrate “good creative” by doing it, not just talking about it. • Achieve balance (as defined by Gordon MacKenzie in the book, Orbiting the Giant Hairball—a “must read” for all in-house creatives). Tim’s prepared remarks generated a lively question-and-answer roundtable discussion among attendees, covering such topics as how in-house creative teams can build a compelling case based on objective data for further development of creative ideas; the strategic use of external resources to handle nonstrategic aspects of a project; ways to attract and retain talent; developing a clear vision for the continued growth of creative teams within their companies; gaining support and increasing credibility by building effective relationships with internal clients; and implementing work space enhancements that make in-house creative services a distinctive destination. Participants shared candid observations about the need to learn from one another on ways to confront ongoing daily challenges as in-house creative professionals, as well as their ideas on how the work of in-house creative teams can fit in yet stand out. All attendees received a sampling of Publix products that feature the redesign, including Publix “UN-BEE-LIEVABLY YUMMY” Salted Honey-Roasted Peanuts (with bee graphic), Publix California MiniSnack Raisins (with raisin-inspired happy face graphic) and Publix Aluminum Foil (with graphic of animals made of foil). Visit any of the more than 950 Publix Super Markets located in five US southern states, read archived articles in The New York Times and various design industry publications and/or visit to see samples of this design work. The Publix creative team was named “HOW’s 2005 In-House Group of the Year” along with other accolades for their work on the Publix private label redesign. Special thanks to Getty Images and Aquent for providing sponsorship support for this InSource event.  


Cary, North Carolina
Highlights from “Generating Ideas That Stick” Creative professionals are acutely aware of the ongoing need to develop good ideas and communicate these ideas in compelling ways. However, it takes more than good ideas to achieve maximum business success. Creative teams must do their best to generate “ideas that stick,” which means ideas that “are understood and remembered, and have a lasting impact” to change the thoughts and behavior of the people who are the focus of one’s attention. “Good ideas outnumber ideas that stick,” according to Dan Heath, co-author of a book published in 2007 entitled Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others DieMade to Stick and a consultant at Duke Corporate Education Duke based in Raleigh, North Carolina. His expertise includes helping corporate clients address real-life challenges by providing customized executive education. Dan Heath was the featured speaker for a half-day InSource event held on Thursday, June 21, 2007, at SAS Worldwide Corporate Headquarters in Cary, North Carolina. His lively presentation explored some of the reasons (including fear, greed and lack of empathy) why people have good ideas that don’t stick, described the 6 principles of “sticky ideas” (namely, “simple unexpected concrete credible emotional stories”) and offered practical insights that in-house creative managers and their teams can use to generate and champion well-constructed ideas in the corporate environment. Describing himself as an “idea researcher,” Dan started his remarks by sharing some of his observations in analyzing how individuals looking for their soul mates (“a high stakes pursuit”) describe their very essence with one-line “teasers” posted on an online catalog for singles. More effective than the blatantly ambiguous “Hey…” or “Looking for love!” are the more detailed descriptions, such as “Hand model turned doctor new to New York City” or “Athletic math nerd looking for someone to hum the Seinfeld introduction with.” In other words, when individuals narrow their focus and reveal more about themselves, the more they are able to distinguish themselves. Applying the principle of concreteness (defined as allowing one to create a mental picture) is often missing in the way some businesses describe themselves. Consider this advertisement for a local construction firm: “Building is a series of communications, interactions and collaborations with a focus on creating the kind of synergy that produces extraordinary results.” Is this an idea that sticks? No. It’s pictureless and ambiguous enough to describe almost any business…in a way that will not “be understood, remembered, and have a lasting impact.” “Fear keeps us from being concrete…because we don’t want to take the risk that people may refute or reject our message. That’s why we often resort to buzzwords,” Dan said. To illustrate how creative managers can inspire their teams to move beyond the temptation of “greed” to overload target audiences with too much information, Dan led a group exercise to practice making a high concept pitch, as done in Hollywood circles. For example, the movie, Alien, can be described as “Jaws on a spaceship,” and the movie, Speed, can be described as “Die Hard on a bus.” Merging two concepts can help people quickly absorb an idea and make it stick. For this exercise, one person named a movie and another person named a form of transportation. Based on these two suggestions, individuals were able to generate interesting plot lines on the spot. Examples: “Hitch on a bicycle” was imagined as a bicycle delivery person having personal interactions with people and solving their problems, and “Moby Dick walking” was imagined as a global warming story starring a beached whale, as a sort of cross between An Inconvenient Truth and Free Willy. The strategy: Put an anchor down (based on what others already know) and then pivot to another idea. This approach allows for easy visualization of a new concept. A classic example: the phrase, “horseless carriage,” was used in 1910 to describe the new invention of motorized cars; “carriage” was the anchor and then pivot to “horseless.” A word of caution was given to beware of the dangers relating to The Curse of Knowledge. “The more we learn, two things happen,” said Dan. “The first is that we become more valuable; that’s a good thing. But the second thing is that the mental distance widens with those with whom we need to communicate. This leads to assumptions and jargon, making it impossible to imagine what others think as beginners who have not acquired the knowledge we have. The way to avoid this villain is to translate ideas in terms that others can understand and remember.” This presentation by Dan Heath stimulated candid discussions among creative professionals attending this event. People were seeking advice on how to deal with others who do not embrace an idea as a great idea (“you can only control the communication of the idea; let them assess what you have in your brain and leave aside what you can’t control”); how to influence people to choose the sticky idea versus the inferior idea (“set up an experiment with 10 people to test the impact of idea A versus idea B; 1 week later, the sticky idea will be the one that is remembered”); and how to build consensus when the first reaction is “we can never use this idea” (“take a step back and articulate the definition of success; when agreement is reached on defining success, suggest a test of the ideas and move beyond the ‘my opinion versus your opinion’ approach”). It was noted that all 6 attributes of “stickiness” are not required to be characterized as a sticky idea, but “the more, the merrier,” recognizing that a natural tension exists between “unexpected” and “credible” when overdone. Special attention was given to the pitfalls of implementing business-to-business marketing materials without adequate attention to emotions and “tapping into things that make people care.” For example, the Case Study can be a useful tool for articulation of the facts, but “a real Case Study has pain (for example, internal inertia and resistance) in it.” Make the Case Study more real by using the approach of “Despite all these obstacles, it worked…” Following the remarks by Dan Heath, Dennis Massengill, Executive Director of Corporate Creative at SAS, provided an overview of the work of SAS, including a description of some of its best practices and lessons learned in managing the corporate creative process. Applying the principles described in Made to Stick in his presentation style, Dennis began by telling a memorable story rich in details, making an analogy between elements of the popular PBS television program called “Antiques Roadshow” and the work of SAS. “Our software company is a highly creative process,” said Dennis, who notes that SAS now has $1.9 billion in revenue and employs 10,115 employees around the world. “We put the call out and offer an appraisal of the value in your information structures and data. We find value hidden in your data, which people may have no idea about what it’s worth. Our heavy-duty analytics gives value to your data.” Guided by extensive research on companies that use data to make decisions about their business and how to compete with others, SAS has been successful in reaching out to businesses via Hospitality Suites at relevant tradeshows and e-mail blasts, offering relevant information tools, articles, an award-winning e-mail blast and driving people to their quarterly online magazine SAS News. Dennis discussed the challenges of creating a global marketing program that will work for numerous separate business entities within SAS, including the need for consistent messaging, assets, translations and a Global Advertising Plan. He described the development of 4 Communications Briefs for marketing. Each was painstakingly crafted to fit onto a single 2-sided piece of paper, yet still provide clearly stated guidelines for customer management, information management, performance management and risk management. “Consistency, consistency, consistency” is the mantra for Corporate Creative at SAS, according to Dennis. He offers 4 maxims that have been useful in his work within SAS to help keep people focused: “1. Simple = good; 2. Your opinion, although interesting, is irrelevant; 3. Do what works – and what works in one setting could be very different from what works in another; and 4. Never miss a good chance to shut up.” Of special note to creative professionals is the creation of the “You Can” advertising campaign. This newly launched campaign is designed to grab attention and drive target audiences to the SAS Website, as well as generate brand awareness in the marketplace using a fun, edgy format (through brief copy in ads, images that have global appeal, and simplistic design/copy that allows SAS to make a ‘splash’). The results: visit SAS for a sampling of this creative approach. Everyone who attended this InSource event was invited to be part of an optional SAS campus tour, which included a behind-the-scenes look of the SAS Video and New Media offices and studios, the SAS Print Center, the SAS in-house artists’ studios and Scenic Operations workshop and the SAS art collection, one of the largest corporate collections in the United States. Special thanks to SAS SAS, Aquent Aquent, Jupiterimages Jupiter Images, and Xerox Xerox, for providing sponsorship support for this InSource event.
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