Group meet!

Yesterday I participated in a fun meeting.

“Health and Well Being” is the big umbrella for our business unit. Under that umbrella falls the categories: Oral care, Health care, Pet care, Feminine care, and snacks. (All this information is publicly available on Wikipedia and the March 2009 earnings release)

Anyway, once every few months all of the design groups under the H&WB umbrella get together. Yesterday was that meeting. Basically, each group presented what they’ve been up to and what their future plans were. It was very interesting to see how different each group was, both in design and organization. Of course, there were also a lot of similarities. I think many of the differences can be attributed to the different managing styles of each group.

Plus I got to meet a bunch of new people. It has been really cool so far to see how design has worked its influence into such a traditional company like P&G.  Don’t believe me? Check out the talk about the new Scope Outlast bottle design. And the design manager in in charge of that project sits about fifteen feet from me.


mastering the language

It’s a slow process but I’m getting the hang of it. There are so many buzzwords and acronyms and codes and titles and formats and procedures….   It’s a lot to take in.

I flawlessly dropped a P&G word (align- it means to agree) into one of my meetings today with someone without even thinking about it. It’s just such a different culture than what I’ve known (even design-wise). Of course the professional setting is a lot different from college, or even my previous internships.

*extra bonus! web exclusive content -> that picture of the snow was taken at midnight after only a half-day of snowing. As I write this, it is still snowing… and has been for three days. This Georgia native has had to learn how to drive in snow/ice very quickly.

more on research

Yesterday I participated (mostly observed) in a research session. I can’t go into specifics, but I will say that I wasn’t able to be in the room as the research was taking place, so I sat in an adjacent room and watched through a one-way mirror.

Woah. Major creeper.

 It was weird watching someone, knowing that they couldn’t see me. Especially since I half expected the mirror to not work. But work, it did. So participants would continue to look in the mirror to make sure they looked okay… and would unknowingly look me right in the eyes. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more creepy.

But after all the researching was over, the team that was present (myself included) did a little debriefing to discussed what we learned that day. I’d say that this was the first time that I’ve been able to understand everything that was being discussed, and I was able to provide some useful insights. Go me!

But seriously, I’m glad I’m settling in to this position at P&G. The first few weeks were a bit like running around with my hair on fire… and it was only yesterday that the sizzling embers died out. Next week, the “Hair of Productivity” will grow unabated!

Pshh. Hair of productivity. What a weirdo.


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

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.