Midway through Co-Op + Conference preiew

rhino

I’m at the halfway point in my Co-Op. I had my(informal)  first quarter Co-Op review, where my manager sat down with me and talked about my performance for the past 3 months. She did mention beforehand that there wouldn’t be anything bad brought up, because if there was anything that I was doing wrong or not up to expectation I would have already been told about it. I don’t want to gloat about myself, but the comments were pretty positive! It’s always good to have your hard work noticed. It puts a smile on my face, anyway.

  •  I’m fitting in well with the others in the design group
  • My “AHA” moments are easy to see (I think this is good…) and it shows that I am very open-minded about what design actually touches in the real world.
  • Accuracy and Efficiency: I’m doing everything that I’m  supposed to, and playing well with others.  I’m keeping up with all of my responsibilities and project without the need of micro-managing.
  • The emergency needs that I have met have been very helpful, and completed in a timely manner.
  • I have been a great fresh pair of eyes, in that I have identified new opportunities for Oral Care (and P&G) to consider.
  • I have taken good initiative to get exposure to areas outside of Oral Care Design. I have scheduled lots of meetings with people outside  Oral Care Design, both in and outside of the design function, something that no CoOp has ever done before.
  • I’m doing a good job adding “Corporate Spunk” to the culture

Like I said, I’m not usually one to gloat, so I’ll share some of the areas that I will be improving over the next 3 months:

  • Now that I know the P&G strategy of design, I need to use it and make it visible that I am doing so.
  • I have learned that it is very important to “frame” conversations and presentations, and that is something that I will be practicing.

This was the overall feedback that I got. Design-specific feedback to come soon.

Now for a quick check on my goals since January:

  1. Impress the hell out of everyone.  I think I’m doing this pretty well. I constantly look around and have renewed excitement. I’ve introduced new tools and technologies to the group, identified opportunity space and gone after it, and I’ve shared my sense of fun. I’ve ideated some cool ideas that we hope to get tested soon, and I’ve come through for the team in emergency situations. I’d say I’ve impressed them.
  2. Get a great experience. I can’t really describe how much I’ve learned here… it’s that much. From the way corporations interact with design agencies to the way design business in general is run… Wow. I’m learning so much.
  3. Make lots of friends. I’d consider all the people that I work with to be my friends, and I’ve made lots of professional relationships her, too. There aren’t as many design Co-ops here, so I haven’t really done too much hanging with them

Other stuff

  • take pictures. check
  • explore Cincinnati. check
  • go skiing. check
  • Go explore other cities… and sleep in my car to avoid paying for a hotel. (I want to hit Indianapolis, and Chicago for sure.) I’ve been talked out of sleeping in my car, and I’m waiting for it to get warmer before hitting Chicago
  • Go to the IDSA Southern District Conference It’s tomorrow! So excited.
  • Spend some time with the design kids at the University of Cincinnati. I’ve done some, but not enough. They are very busy, so it’s hard to get them to tell me where the party is at
  • Join the gym inside (that’s right, inside) the P&G building and get a workout going I joined a gym down the road. Woah! Adam has an exercise routine?!
  • Try my hand at Expressionist painting. Uh… waiting for the warm weekend so I don’t have to paint in a nasty garage.

NEW Goals for the New Quarter

  • By the time I leave, I want the team to winder what the heck they are going to do without me. Become indispensable.
  • Continue to train for the Peachtree Road Race. I want to run the whole 10k without having to walk.
  • Get to see more multifunction partners. My manager is giving me some names for this.
  • Get some work lined up for after June.
  • Go to the roller coaster park that is literally right down the road from me.
  • Practice some jazz trumpet playing

 PS Sorry for the typos. They happen.

OK, this post is getting long, so I’ll start wrapping up. IDSA Southern Distric Conference is tomorrow! Amidst the flurry of portfolio preperation, I can’t wait to see my ID@GT friends! Unfortunately they won’t all be there, so I’ll see them in early May. It’s going to be a great conference, and I’m going to have a great time.

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I went to the zoo yesterday. Are you jealous?

Also, I saved P&G a ton of money by making some last minute mock-ups. That’s always fun.

More notes from the Co-Op

Hey I miss Atlanta and all my friends a ton, but I’m glad to be missing out on Atlanta’s pollen season this year.

That’s just gross.

P&G buzz that I hear around the office

3D White is a new Sub-brand of Crest that was just released a couple of weeks ago. I saw it being worked on during its final stages! More info on 3D white here.

P&G is looking to expand our sales by reaching to untapped markets. See more info here.

Onto the news about my Co-Op at P&G
I haven’t posted in a while because as I progress on the learning curve, I’m finding things less and less bewildering.

Work has been pretty normal, and people have been taking their Spring Breaks one at a time. I get a few days off, but I’m saving them for early May. That’s when GT graduation parties and Iron Man 2 are happening. It’s a win-win.

I’ve been working on projects that have been assigned to me, but a few weeks ago I made my own project. I’m not a glutton for punishment; I was just really inspired by something. I talked with my manager and now it’s a full blown project. Once the sketching/ modeling part is over, I plan to talk to the engineers about manufacturing feasibility so that I can get experience dealing with them. Not that I don’t have experience talking to engineers, coming from Tech… I just think I should take advantage of all the brilliant people here.

Onto another topic, when I am introduced to a P&G employee, the first question is, “Are you from The University of Cincinnati (UC)?” Apparently, the idea of Co-Oping originated with UC. It is mandatory for EVERYONE at UC to participate in the Co-op program, regardless of major. UC helps you find and coordinate Co-Op Positions, so it’s not too much of a hassle. It’s a big selling point for the university, since you are pretty much guaranteed a good amount of field experience by the time you graduate.

When I first heard about this guarantee, I was pretty jealous of the UC students. I worked my butt off to track down and apply for my internships/ Co-op. But, it may have just helped me. I talked to a P&G designer originally from SCAD, who told me that he was more excited about the position of a Co-op than his peers (from UC) when he did it here. It’s not a knock on UC, I’m just saying that I value the position more because of all the effort it took to get it. That’s why I’m continually looking at this opportunity with a fresh pair of eyes to try and take advantage of it.

In addition to all my designer/Co-op duties, I’m trying to do some other things, too. There is so much opportunity for me to explore this company and all of it’s functions; I don’t want to leave without trying as much as I can. For example, there is some design-leader training that I’m going to try to get into, as well as a bit of corporate culture shifting. It’s all very exciting.  All ideas for new ways to utilize my Co-Op position are welcome (No, I’m not going to sell trade secrets, so don’t ask).

I’ve been making it out to other Design areas lately. It’s a good experience to see what’s outside of Oral Care Design, and a little networking never hurt anyone. I found out something : while there are certainly lots of similarities, each design group is very different. One has Wacom Tablets adorned with Transformers and Nerf guns all over the place, whereas another is a pit of cubicles. I saw one design space with designer furniture with IKEA accents, and one space with all furniture by Herman Miller. There are lots of business-like designers here, but just as many crazy-hipster designers. Some design functions like to be very hands on, while others like to partner with design agencies. Basically, it’s like there are these little design colonies throughout P&G with very separate and unique cultures.

Well that’s about it for now. My first Co-op term is almost over, and the next one begins in April. Now that I’ve gotten past (relatively) the training and confusion of a new-hier, I expect the next three months to be very impactful. I plan on doing a lot more that what people expect a Co-op to do, and I think I’ll learn more for it. I’m going to pick one or two things that I’m really interested in, and crazily pursue it. Seriously, I want to use every chance I get to explore the areas of design in this company.

Should be fun.

Isn’t Photoshop wonderful? Above is something I threw together to celebrate the end of my Cincinnati winter.

3 updates

Downtown Cincinnati from northern KY. Picture via vinacincinnati.blogspot.com

Update 1!

Everyone always asks me how I like my Co-Op with Procter&Gamble. So, for those of you who haven’t had the chance to ask, I’ll give you the extended canned response.

I’m learning a lot, obviously. I’m getting a lot of good insights and practice to further my design skills. But what I’m learning the most is the business side of design: the corporate language, organization management, and policy/procedures.

Update 2!

I talked to a guy who has a peculiar role. Through is own interest and research into the topic of storytelling, he has been able to make a name for himself as a “master storyteller.” Basically, if a project needs some help identifying what their strategy and goals are ultimately achieving, he will come in and make the project into a story. He will then break the story down and identiy certain areas that need to be focused on (like the hero, the mentor, the magic item… etc.) It all seems pretty silly, but it ends up being a nice tool to have when you need an outside opinion on something.

Storytelling can be especially helpful in marketing strategies. It helps identify what the brand’s role is in the story of a commercial or print ad. Again, I’m sure it sounds pretty weird, but there are very applicable uses to a guy who can draw analogies to stories like him.

Update 3!

Remember that presentation I gave last Wednesday? It was the one where I couldn’t have the Oral Care design manager present? Well I gave her a one-on-one presentation today. The feedback: She was impressed at the level of detail that I had gone into, and I did a good job presenting the information that she needed to know to make a quick, yet informed decision. So, it’s pretty sweet that she not only liked my presentation, but some of my ideas will get implemented!

The Score:              Adam 1            Corporate America 0

Watch out vegetarians, this is a meaty post

below is a picture of a Luther Burger. Gaze upon it and weep. wow.

Whew. Made it to another weekend.

I’ve been working on a project that’s very product design- centric. That’s not to say that the other stuff I’ve done so far has no relevancy to design; that’s not it at all.
It’s just that this project in particular is exactly the type of stuff I did in studio. (Sorry, no details on what the project actually is. Let’s just say it is more conceptual, and involves a lot of sketching).
At Tech the SOP was to have periodic pin ups of our sketches and to get feedback from the class. So it was pretty refreshing to get to do just that with my manager today. But, of course, she brought in some new perspectives on how to do “Pin-ups: the P&G way.” Yuck, that sounds awfully corporate and dry. But it was actually pretty insightful.
Before we started talking about my sketches, she asked me what “Decision Criteria” I was looking for. In other words, she wanted to know what kinds of qualities made for a concept to be noteworthy in this exercise.
I think that this is a step that is usually skipped when having pin-up sessions. Too often, the designer just starts explaining his/her ideas, and then the peers just give feedback based on whatever strikes them. Favorites are chosen, sometimes arbitrarily, and good ideas can be dropped just because the “herd mentality” takes over after one person says something negative about a proposal.
The “framing” that we did only took a few minutes, but it made it very easy for both of us to figure out which were the best proposals to go forward with. I hope I can remember to do this with all my pin-ups both at P&G, and back at Tech (and then, who knows?). Bravo to you, Mystery Manager!
After the rundown of ideas and the inevitable bounce-ideas-off-of-each-other session that designers get so excited about, She had another tip from the book of “Pin-ups: the P&G way.”
We took a step back and noticed that there were some common themes in my ideas. So I put all the sketches on the table and put them in their naturally occurring clusters. From these clusters, the real concepts and opportunities were drawn.
Okay, so… the common theme thing happens a LOT in conceptual design… but the new spin was the “bucket.” That’s what the P&G term for the clusters is. It sounds kind of goofy, but I hear it from a bunch of different people.
But hey, I’m sure my love for Ckick-fil-a, Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, and all things Atlanta are just as odd.

Whew. Big day today. And an exciting one, too. I love that energy and excitement that comes from collaborating . But now that it’s almost 6PM on a Friday, I’m excited to play some games on my PS2, go to the gym, and eat cereal while watching Huluat 2 in the morning.

Concurrent projects and extension

I’m closing in on the end of my second month here at P&G, but I am getting an extension on my Co-Op term. Now I’ll be her through June. Which is awesome. As far as how I’m doing, one big difference from design school is that I have more projects going on at once (I had concurrent projects at Tech, but rarely two studio projects at once). I have four design related projects that I’m working on right now, with two or three more on deck.

All of these overlapping projects obviously means that time management is very important for everyone. Meetings and events have to be scheduled WAY in advance, because people are so busy. I have to schedule phone calls in advance!

One of the projects that I’ve been working on has just wrapped up. I gave a presentation on it to the Oral Care Design team and some outside designers. I think everything went pretty well. Everyone was very receptive to the work, and to my recommended next steps.

 Oh and since we’re talking about oral care design, check this link out. I saw it in the Skymall magazine the other day. Its pretty awful.