Help me out-How to explain why I was hired to a new leader

I have been at my current employer for 16 months, during that time I have had 5 different bosses and it seems the reasoning for hiring me has not been communicated through these changes. The 1st boss understood the ID process and was all for it, the 4th said to me “There is still a place for sketching?" 4th has hired 5th, who is new to management and not aware of ID, 5 comes from an implementation background, starting in cad.
I recently proposed having a meeting to show the skills I bring to the table and work on becoming involved up front more often, the basic outline for this meeting is below, and the response I received from 5th boss, including my answers. Interestingly I was introduced to the company in such a meeting of team leaders and managers by my original boss.

Currently I am doing special projects for management, all custom embossing cad modeling (including designing the tooling and running samples). Without any support from anyone here I am having a tough time getting anyone to see any value in what I do, and am being steered to working on the tube in NX all day. I do have several examples of project I worked on (to be used in the meeting).
I currently have a very time consuming special group project that potentially could keep millions of dollars of business with us, this is seen as not as important as the cad work by my supervisors. (?)

Please read the below, I am looking for a better way to get myself back on track here.

inital email-

Attached is the agenda and detailed list of what I will cover in the remote conceptualization meeting we discussed in my monthly meeting. The invitees to this meeting would be xxxxxx and yourself. If there are others you would like to attend please let me know and I will add them.

The goal of this meeting is to shorten time to market by narrowing down the design of the product up front, requiring fewer design iterations later don the stream.

Please review and comment.


Remote Conceptualization Meeting Agenda 9 7 2011
• Demonstration of remote design capabilities
• Show examples of past projects.
• Explain how the process can help.
• What departments can benefit.
• What software is involved.
The process-
• Bidding on job.
• Discuss goals.
• Examples of what customer uses currently.
• Customers wants/needs.
• Research customer/theme.
• Brainstorming products.
• Thumbnail sketch ideas.
• Refine sketches/review.
• Refine sketches/review.
• Create presentation renderings.
• Create presentation strong points for cover page.
• Create PDF/review.
• Hard prints.
• Send to Marketing/Sales.
When to involve this process-
• At the beginning of research into the needed product.
• After the customer contacts Dart for a custom package quote.
• When Ideas need to be ironed out before submitting quote to customer.
• After a cad model has been created and you want to show examples of changes.
• Propose changes to current products.
• Propose new item.

Why to involve this process:
• Gain advantage over competitor.
• Larger market share.
• Create new market.
• Reduce the number of design iterations created.
• Create the design parameters early in the project.
• Left blank for this discussion-there are several.
Software/Hardware necessary-
• Video conferencing equipment.
• Laptop or desktop computer.
• Wacom tablet.
• SketchbookPro.
To me,
do you know or can estimate how much this can improve our time to market (or approximately how long this process takes us today)?

Using the current sundae cup project as an example, all the initial container size, shape and decoration, and number of containers were decided based on the work I did last year with marketing research. The actual designs in which the decisions were made took less than 40 hours for both the 4 container proposal and the three container proposal, the product renderings covered 9 initial designs, then 3 more proposals, narrowed down to the current design. I then started on the CAD model at which time the project was halted. This process covered research into current sundae cups offered by competitors, sample review and initial concept sketching.
When I came to ABCD, the initial design process was to create a few cad models based on the FAB and propose those to Marketing, there would be several iterations after those and refinement of the chosen beyond that. This process could take 40 -120 hours and not address all sizes or appearance issues like embossing or engraving because there was no way to represent them quickly. Research into the product was limited to samples of competitors gathered by program management, and after the process had already started.

Now, on the sundae cup project, as it is revived, the appearance is already in place, allowing the product design work to flow smoothly without worrying about how different appearances will affect the seal, rim, and cap.
Looking at the time difference and issues resolved early on in the product concept stage reduced time spent later on in the product design process.

what is the additional cost/capital investment required (software, hardware, installation, support, etc)?
There is no additional cost, ABCD already has the equipment and support.

I’d like to better understand the current state we’re improving and the business case we’re submitting.
I feel during all the leadership changes in the last 16 months that the purpose for having an industrial designer in (department) has not been communicated. I suggest we set up a meeting so we can discuss what skills I bring to the table and how to utilize them best at ABDC.

It’s difficult to advise on this one, but here’s my two penneth worth to be taken with a pinch of salt…
Reading through what’s been said, the last paragraph seems like a deal maker or breaker in terms of you being able to prove your worth and remain empoyed as a designer there or not, having never met your boss it is difficult to guage, but I believe you have not answered his questions directly enough. It sounds like he’s a non design manager in that he’s only interested in hard facts, not the unquantifiable stuff. He asks:

What he is looking for is an answer like 'On a typical project, I estimate based on X that our time to market can be improved by XXX, thus saving approx $XXX per year.
From what I read, you took two paragraphs and have not answered the question. Even if you show it in bar chart or pie, you need to clearly communicate this is the current state and this is what you can provide (showing improved stats) or this is the current state and this is the result if you’re not involved ( ie. a loss).

The other thing is that your agenda is long and for anyone attending the meeting (even though you have a lot to cover) just looking at it is going to switch people off. You need to get to the main points very quickly. It’s natural to try to fit a lot in, because you’re trying to show them all the things you do. Don’t focus on all the things you do, focus on your worth. You could do a thousand things that don’t really do a lot for the companys bottom line - load the photocopier, water the plants etc, where as someone else could do one thing that’s invaluable. Get to the main points quickly because they’ll forget the rest anyway. It may be a thought to show past projects (if they exist) which didn’t do as well, then demonstrate how they could have been radically improved with your involvement, rather than just showing your successes, that way there is a clear comparison.

Warning - This advice may be rubbish, but there you go. Good luck. PT

What is the real question here? How do you get them to see the value in what you do?

I’m not in your shoes, and it is a little hard to follow along, but it sounds like you need an ally and a mentor. What happened tp the first boss? What kind of company is this? Are you their first industrial designer? Were you right out of school when you joined?

Personally, I would locate a mentor fast, and buy that person lunch!

@producttank-thanks, you are right, my new boss is not a design manager, and in fact this is his first manager position. I will be sure to clarify that I am not calling a do or die meeting. His response was that he plans on meeting with everyone in his group, once he moves to the same building (he is in a building on the other side of the campus now, he has been here a month). So I think things will work out fine. I like your condensed answer to his question and will use that format in the meeting. I had planned on making a much more concise agenda for the actual meeting; the list I in the post is bullet points, to be condensed.

@ yo -Thanks for the reply, the real question is how to achieve my goal of being involved in the new products this company creates up front, not after all the research and ideation is done. Currently those parameters are created by marketing and sales, then handed to the product designers, who are told to "make this” which they do. None of the product designers are ID people; they are NX designers, enjoying the actual CAD design process, not the ideation phase.
I work at a single use food container company.

I am the first ID person here, my first boss, who hired me, was totally involved in the ID process, believing it could shorten the time to market for each product. He no longer is with the company, none of the other bosses after knew how what I could do could help, and were not in place long enough to find out, some knew they were moving in 6 months and didn’t really care.

I have 10+ years exp, in exactly the same position I am in now, I seem to be hired to start this process, then get left behind with folks who do not see the value in what I do, seemingly because it is not the “usual” way to do business at the company I have been at. I know I can do more to raise awareness of what I do, but in the past my approach has not netted the results I wish, so I am asking for new ways to present myself and ID to the upper management.

I have never worked with any other ID people, except those I hired, (just 2, and a couple of interns.) nor had a mentor.

I believe I am getting off track here. What I am actually looking for is a better outline for my meeting with the upper management, which describes how I can improve the design process. In the past I have done this entirely on my own, and I want other opinions before I lay it out.

I have worked on some very important projects here, and at the request of vice presidents in the engineering department, I want to make it clear I am not complaining. I just want to be even more involved in the upfront decisions concerning product design.


(1) Reduce the pre-meeting note to 3 bullet points. (You can supply the full list afterwards as a memorandum summarizing the meeting.)

(2) Create a storyboard for the meeting, using the real example you cited. The top half shows the old slow and expensive process almost as a graphic novel – it should visually extend very far to the right, making a very long story. The lower half shows your new, improved, faster cheaper process. It should be shorter than the top story – huge visual impact in the differences in left-to-right length, which the manager will remember vividly. Frame your own contributions in red, especially the parts early in the process. That will highlight you as well as the benefits of being early in the process. If you want to get fancy, use a brace or bracket to show how 9 frames or so in the top storyboard (old process) are reduced to 1 or 2 or 3 frames in the lower storyboard (new process featuring your ID skills optimally used).

If you can add some sincere and accurate observations about how deploying your skills optimally will help this new manager and his team look good to his own bosses (cheaper, faster, on-time and underbudget, happier customers and bulging order books, whatever), that will help.

(3) For the long term: As Michael (yo) pointed out, try to find a mentor. Or if you can find anyone higher up who is sympathetic, including this new manager, gently and patiently work with him/her – educate him/her – to understand the benefits of properly deploying you. If you are patient and pleasant about it, expect it to take 3 - 6 months until you find the person thinking your way and arguing your own points for you. That can be an agonizingly long time. In fact, from what you say, by then you will probably then have yet another new manager and need to start the education process all over again. It’s worth it, if there’s a way within the company’s culture to pull it off.

(4) Please proofread, and then proofread again. There are some embarrassing typos in your drafts.

Good luck.

Thank you Ken K. I discussed the idea to present the time reduction that could be achieved to my new boss in a storyboard format, he was enthuastic about it and offered to help lay it out in a program he can present himself at a later date. That pretty much removes the storyboard format though, but I am happy to have the support.

I appreciate all the feedback!