Monthly Archives: January 2010

Research

Research papers are boring. Internet research is slightly less boring.

I can tell you that P&G does a helluva lot of research. Have I talked about this already? I’m not sure… but I think so. So I’ll keep this short. Besides, I need to go to bed. What, I have work in the morning!

I’ve been told that P&G pioneered consumer research… and I really don’t know if that’s true. But I can tell you that they don’t have to make a move without knowing exactly how consumers react. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, but they certainly have the expertise and resources to do thorough and pervasive research.

Coming out of the school environment, watching some projects lean more or less on research, it’s kind of neat to see this in-depth research… the kind that takes a month to just figure one detail out (okay, that may be a little exaggerated).

that’s it. thanks for paying attention to my late night ramble. Tomorrow, I sign up for the corporate gym, and go get some ice cream after work. As if it’s not cold enough.

The bottom line

In a company as HUGE as P&G, if people didn’t watch the money that got spent, the company would go broke pretty quickly. I suspect that a bunch of companies met their demise this way.

Anyway, at P&G there is always someone keeping an eye on the books. It’s something I’ve never experienced… I’ve never had to worry about an actual “budget” that has a set income, only to have to figure out how to allocate chunks of money. Not to say they let me do any of the planning… which is probably a smart move.

Soooo. the point is that I think it’s pretty cool to be exposed to a company budget, and to see how it’s done. I’m sure as time goes on, budgeting will get a lot less exciting…

In other news, it started snowing again! A good sign for weekend skiing! (ugh I bet the place will be packed…)

weather .grumble.

The weather here is so unpredictable. I was going to go skiing this weekend, and the weather channel said it was going to snow. Instead, it was 53 (F) and it was cloudy. So, I took some pictures. I couldn’t do too much… because it soon started getting misty out. Stupid precipitation cycle.

but at least I got some cool pictures today. I put some of them up at http://adamgraiser.tumblr.com/

Thoughts from Friday

– Sorry, I haven’t been able to take too many pictures of Cincinnati in the week and a half that I’ve been here; it has been foggy since I got here. So, instead, I present to you a picture of a stuffed lobster.

Now on to business…

Back at my first internship two years ago, I interviewed everyone about what they did and how they functioned as part of the company (it was a small design firm). As I talked to the design manager, she lamented having to deal with problems all of the time, and not having any real time to do actual design work. It was then and there I decided that I never wanted to be a design manager. After all, why would I ever want to give up the ability to creatively express myself, for a job where I’d constantly have to watch others do the designing?

At my new internship (technically a co-op), I’m still interviewing people to try to get an idea of how the company is structured and who does what. Today, again, I found myself talking to a design manager. So I asked the one question that was burning in my mind like a bad case of athlete’s foot: “do you miss it (designing)”

He said yes… especially at first. But then he realized that as a manager he’s actually still designing, just with different instruments. Sure he’s not sketching or modeling anymore, but he’s painting in broader strokes. He likened it to the movie business. He doesn’t do special effects anymore… he’s the director now. It’s HIS VISION that everyone is creating from. So while he doesn’t decide the small details, he is creating this huge idea, supported by other small ideas. He is the one in charge of making sure that his one, overarching idea is followed and kept celebrated. He is still coming up with the overall feel of a thing, and he is the one who makes all of the final decisions. And he makes these design decisions on a much faster pace.

The key, he says, is to not design stuff for the designers you’re managing. Don’t step on their toes. That kind of micromanaging only frustrates the talented people working for you. You are paying for their opinion, so let them do their work… but guide them to follow your vision.

The guy is also a graduate of industrial design from GT, and he was telling me about how his time at GT has helped. He said that being in the minority (a designer in a sea of engineers) has actually helped him. All of his friends were engineers… and he learned how to talk and think like them.  And now that he’s designing products, he regularly interfaces with engineers, and is able to talk and work with them to make sure his designs remain intact through the manufacturing phase.  Instead of the classic “design vs. manufacturability fight” that is so common today in product development, he is able to work with engineers up close to make sure that, with some compromise on both sides, everyone can end up happy and proud of an idea that no on thought would survive to production.

So…. That’s it.

Now I’m thoroughly confused, and have taken back my vow against design management. I don’t know if I’ll ever be a design manager, but now I’m at least open to it happening sometime in the future. But I want to be a designer for a long while first. That’s my goal and that’s what I want to do when I get out of design school.

Don’t let me sugarcoat this. It seems that being any kind of manager means that you are constantly the troubleshooter. It can definitely be a hectic job. But as a design manager, at least I could be doing something I love.

The first few days at work…

No im just kidding. The first few days have been immersive, to be sure, but I’ve been met with nothing with kindness.

Oh I might need to mention this… if it seems like I’m being intentionally vague, it’s because I am. P&G has a strict policy about competitive secrecy. They’re a top company and lots of people would love to steal information from them, so I’ve been instructed to not really say anything specific about what goes on inside the building…

Anyway…At first, it’s been a little frustrating, since there are so many terms and acronyms being used that I just don’t understand yet. It seems that every other sentence has something that I need clarified. But again, the team has been very open to help me out whenever I have a question (they told me to ask a lot of questions, which is good. because I ask a LOT of questions). But here, at the end of the third day, I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of it. I guess they agree, because I’m starting to get some design projects assigned (small ones at first).

I’m getting a blurry picture of how the structure of P&G is set up… there are lots of levels of managers to be sure, but I obviously don’t see much of them. But I will tell you that my boss/ manager shares the same enthusiasm that I do for energy and “constructive chaos.”

I’ve been to LOTS of meetings, from financial stuff all the way to projects that are still in the development phases to the state of the market outside the US. Some of these meetings are more interesting than others, but they actually are teaching me how things get done at P&G. As much as Dilbert hates meetings, sometimes they are the best way to get things done.

Well that’s pretty much it for now. Since I was more of a walking sponge the first two days, I’ve kind of taken the “quiet and observing” role. But today, as I started to feel more comfortable with my role and my co-workers, I’m being more of myself. Not too much craziness, but I’m being…. me. And that’s worked out pretty well so far.

First things first

My goals for my new Co-Op position on the P&G Oral Care design team:

  1. Impress the hell out of everyone. I know it’ll be easy to get comfortable… to lean back and just do what has always been done. I don’t want to settle. I want to be energetic, full of passion, and stir in a little productive chaos. I want the corporate world to be stunned and impressed at the same time.
  2. Get a great experience. OK this one should be obvious. P&G is a hell of a company. They’ve been around for a loooooong time, and they are innovators in may of the ways corporations are run today. It’s an honor to be hired here. I’ve interned at an established yet small creative firm, I’ve helped start a small one, and now I want to try the other end of the spectrum: Corporate.
  3. Make lots of friends. Aside from he fact that I’ll be away from all of my friends in Atlanta, it’s always good to make new friends. It’s especially good to make friends that are in your industry. So… you can imagine that I’ll be asking for  business cards from a lot of people.  bank on that.

ok so those are my 3 goals for the Co-Op. So.. you might be wondering.. what the hell is Adam going to do with his free time? Well, good friends, I present this handy dandy tool:

The Guide to what the hell Adam is going to do with his free time

  • take pictures. lots of them. I got a nice camera, so why not go exploring and take some pictures?
  • explore Cincinnati
  • go skiing. at least once. hopefully more.
  • Go explore other cities… and sleep in my car to avoid paying for a hotel. (I want to hit Indianapolis, and Chicago for sure.)
  • Go to the IDSA Southern District Conference
  • Spend some time with the design kids at the University of Cincinnati
  • Join the gym inside (that’s right, inside) the P&G building and get a workout going
  • Try my hand at Expressionist painting

Whew… News about this upcoming semester

Wow It’s been a while since I updated my design blog. Things have been rather hectic.

A quick update though:

The semester is over, and tomorrow is actually the last day of winter break before the spring semester at Georgia Tech begins.

I learned a lot, obviously. But the really cool news is what I will be doing starting Monday.  Instead of going to classes, I will begin a 12-week long internship (Co-op) with Proctor & Gamble. I’ll be working in the Oral care division with the design team. The “Oral Care” umbrella encompasses the brands: Oral B, Scope, and Crest.  From what I understand, I’ll be doing a mix of packaging design, graphic design, and straight product design.  Really, I’m happy to help out however I can.

This is the Mason Business Center, where I will be working. It is huge; the building has 1.15 million square feet of workspace, and employs around 2400 people…. in one building.

The only downside to this INCREDIBLE opportunity, besides being in a completely new setting (A Cincinnati suburb called Mason), is that this is only a 12- week stint. It’s a problem because the only class I need to graduate is Spring Studio, so coming back to Atlanta before then is kind of a waste.

P&G does their Co-Op scheduling by the quarter system, since that is what the local university is on, while Georgia Tech is on the semester system. So my best bet is to try and secure another Co-Op with P&G right after this first one ends (and then a few more after that). I’ve been told that this is not impossible to do, but there has to be an open slot and budget for me. After that, I should have a foot in the door since I’ve already been working for P&G.

More later on my plans and goals for these next 12 weeks, and what I pan to do with my free time!

-A