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P&G's culture of design: an evolving effort

The task of developing a culture of design is daunting for a consumer products company as enormous as Procter & Gamble.

Claudia Kotchka, vice president of design innovation and strategy, says the effort, launched in 2001, remains a work in progress. But beyond infusing the importance of aesthetics throughout the company, the new culture of design at Procter & Gamble is pushing the following initiatives:

Developing inspirational workspaces. These spaces promote collaboration and also recognize that designers work differently than other professionals within the company.

Understanding the practice of design. “Most of our research is quantitative. We love data,” Kotchka says. “But designers start with empathy. They want to know how people use a product. We need to get the rest of Procter and Gamble to see the world through a designer’s eyes.”

Establishing a mentor-up program to enhance cross-functional learning. For example, a designer accompanies a senior manager on a trip to interact with shoppers to learn what shoppers are thinking and how that correlates to design. Conversely, all designers have a business mentor to teach them the jargon of the executive suite to more effectively discuss how design can enhance business strategies.
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