Design from the inside

It’s been a hectic 6 weeks or so – I moved my life from the UK back to India, planned my sisters wedding and had a fab time with family and friends for a couple weeks. One road trip, many long catch up’s and some down-time later, I started working for an organization that manufactures and exports garments from India. The business model is in transition to a co-operative structure and I get to work in conjunction with various government departments, agencies and social organizations to make this happen.

It’s not  like any job I have ever done before (none of them turn out to be, it seems – and that’s dandy) and I am grateful for the opportunity to  figure out how to embed design and deploy creativity within the organization. I have been specifically commissioned to look at the social aspects of the business, inform the creative strategy and develop the visual language around the brand. I am excited to be able to define my own role and learn from another new experience in an industry and place that can potentially have a huge impact on ‘business as usual’.

‘Embedding design’ as Sarah Drummond calls it, is a challenge compared to working with like minded designers in an environment where most people share a common language to think, talk and plan. Add to that – people speaking in 5 language’s  at work (Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and English) a culture that rewards discipline, very little down time and space for creative collaboration – my role is turning out to be about learning the ropes. winning hearts, listening, keeping my hand on the pulse, understanding and never letting my optimism waver.

My fist task has been to capture the organization’s vision, purpose and goals visually and articulate them in a way that is accessible to various internal and external stakeholders.  Quite interesting, but I do feel the need to give myself a little pep talk:

I’m good at: Engaging, immersing myself in a context, looking at the bigger picture, visualising, joining the dots, exploring the possibilities.

What I can do better: always being optimistic, finding the most effective way to connect with the team, being patient with myself and others, tapping into people’s creative abilities, defining my deliverables and timescale.

What stands in my way: a culture that always says “elders know best” ,  an organizational culture that doesn’t make me feel very creative right now, travelling 2 hours every morning to get to work and 2 hours back.

I should maximize on: An opportunity to embed design, influence culture, business model and strategy. A visionary leader at the helm, a chance to get involved in how public and social services are delivered in India, a shot at being an ‘intrapreneur’.

Watch this space for a weekly update.

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About elizadeth

Designer, exploring the possibilities of service design.

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