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A noteworthy article appeared in the June issue of Shelf Impact, an influential online e-zine. The article, P&G Exec: Design's strategic value is vital to innovation, features excerpts from a keynote speech given by Claudia Kotchka, Procter & Gamble's Vice President of Design Innovation & Strategy at the Fuse's Brand Identity & Package Design conference this past April in New York. Having attended this conference, and recalling the value this presentation has for business and design, I thought this issue worth discussing....

Ms. Kotchka, 29-year P&G veteran and wonder woman of the Consumer Packaged Goods world, discussed how her primary task at Procter & Gamble is to "build design into P&G's DNA," and how that has involved changing the mindset at the venerable company from one that focused on the quality of the products to packaging aesthetics as well.
"You need to fuse meaning and pleasure with function," she stated. The article adds, "Kotchka said she is gradually succeeding across the company by transforming the culture inside P&G to understand and embrace the value of design."
As we all know, it isn't easy to change a culture that has long been ingrained with doing business differently. It's interesting to note how Ms. Kotchka has been orienting the company to achieve these goals. "At P&G, we want to build design into the front end of innovation," she told her Fuse audience. The question is, how has she gone about accomplishing this?
Reorienting work spaces to better inspire and create a collaborative environment.
Encouraging management executives to interface with designers while researching consumers at retail or within their home environments. Better still: by teaching senior executives to think in design terms.
Remember we discussed the need for business to integrate its left-brain analytical thinking with more right brain creative problem solving capabilities of the designer–P&G presents us with a major CPG company that is clearly investing in this new business model!
Developing an external design board, and directing internal P&G teams to interface with the customers directly three times per year to discuss marketplace products.
Educating designers in basic business tenets so they can talk the talk with their executive counterparts and establish credibility with them.
Teaching design principals to cross-functional department heads–the latter are now beginning to understand the core value design brings to their products.
Ms. Kotchka ended her address by telling her audience that while P&G hasn't gotten where it wants to go, "We are much more inclusive in how we incorporate design into business strategy, and we are bringing our multi-disciplinary functions together."
If the goal is to be more responsive to the consumer's needs by offering better, more desirable products, isn't that what every business should strive to do?

Continue reading "The New Design Culture at P&G" ... Read the full article

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Ted Mininni is president of Design Force, Inc. (, a leading brand-design consultancy to consumer product companies (phone: 856-810-2277). Ted is also a regular contributor to the MarketingProfs blog, the Daily Fix.