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Global Studios

Approaches and Strategies for Working Today and Delivering Creative Services

GDE 730 Week 7

New Model, Old tricks

  1. Research and analyse approaches and strategies for working today and delivering creative services as a graphic designer;


In the second lecture this week, the opportunities and benefits of operating in an international market were discussed by the case study practitioners.  The first question, How will globalisation and advancements in technology affect graphic design education?


Simon Manchipp expressed the view that diversity in graphic design communities would support more expansion into areas not traditionally associated with the design industry and this is something that I explored in last week's blog post.  As designers push their practice towards more impactful and rewarding endeavors, design education will follow, offering students case studies of ever-broader examples of this growing practice.  Remote learning and communication through global digital platforms, if used correctly, will deepen our knowledge and allow us to learn from the expertise of others. 

Sam Winston elaborates upon this idea when he denotes the difference between learning data, information, and knowledge.  He says that you 'embody' information.  The word 'embody' means 'be an expression of or give a tangible or visible form to', therefore I believe Winston is highlighting the importance of consolidating the information we receive as 'learning'.  One might conclude that a graphic designer's job is to consolidate a problem and embody the solution.  The power of the solution, to solve the problem, is therefore dependent on how deeply we acquire the knowledge presented to us. 

Addressing the second question, What do you think are the creative opportunities for students studying on the global online course, such as the MA Graphic Design at Falmouth?  The designers agreed that what we can learn from each other should be at the forefront of our studies.  Manchipp described the huge community that opens up to individuals on such courses provides the opportunity for a multitude of dialogues.  Julian House asking if the courses are really encouraging students to communicate with each other, to critique each other's work, to know whom they study alongside?  Adrian Talbot also pointing out that one can seek out like-minded students with similar interests to our own and share ideas through educational online platforms.

I wonder if these platforms are really allowing for such dialogue to happen if modules are facilitating the opportunity to get to know other designers more intimately and encouraging cooperative working?  My experience of the current module has left me wanting in this regard, I believe a mixture of factors prevent true opportunities for such melding of minds, including time zone difficulties, large groups joined together for modules, a communication platform that fails to provide a good user interface for sharing work in progress or final pieces, the time demands each week failing to allow time for interaction with peers and critiques that are rushed.  Fellow student Ingrid Reigstad must have been thinking along the same lines when she posted on the wall 3 ideas she believes may help Falmouth Flexible students to collaborate more.

Lecture 1, Part 1 with Ken Kirton of Hato Studio and Part 2 with Rita Matos and Axel Peemoeller of New Studio, presented a number of points in relation to the challenges and opportunities of collaboration in an organisation with multiple global offices/contributors.  I have summarised these below:


  • To shape the way global communities connect to and consume offerings.

  • Technology facilities communication on a small or large scale.

  • To bring designers from different cultures together in collaboration and critique.

  • To offer a fast outcome delivery through 24 hour working across time zones.

  • To develop local expertise & offer support to brands in trading across countries.

  • Bringing a different cultural perspective to a new country.

  • Gaining experience working with new clients with different values & ideals.

  • Working with clients who view the relationship as a respected partnership.

  • A broader network of clients and other professionals naturally develops.

  • Technology media gets you noticed on a global level.

  • Collaborators become friends.

  • Finding like-minded individuals who face similar problems, like expansion.

  • Collaborators offer a much broader skill set for clients.

  • Individuals can grow faster when joining a global collaboration - learning from more experienced members.

  • Individuals share their experiences of working in particular sectors, bringing clients, industry knowledge.


  • Language barriers unless you are bilingual or can translate.

  • Ensuring that those invited to collaborate have a commitment to the studio and the good work.

  • Allowing for a free moving workforce, coming and going.

  • Needing to meet face to face to efficiently achieve goals.

  • The larger the collaborative, the harder it is to keep a track of what everyone is doing.

  • Quick decisions are hard to make as conversations become protracted over distance.

  • Some of the team members may never have met each other.

  • Miscommunications can cause delays/difficulties.

  • Members of a collaborative must be responsible, transparent & honest with each other.

Case Study - Global Working 

Turner Duckworth

David Turner and Bruce Duckworth set up Turner Duckworth in 1992.  Duckworth is based in London and Turner in San Francisco, operating 2 studios and 55 staff.  Theirs is an interesting business model based on a process of, what they call, 'competitive collaboration'.  Staff effectively 'pitch' ideas to briefs with the winning concept being celebrated and rewarded with leadership of that project.  Each brand they work with has an allocated team working closely with them and they rotate additional designers in and out of projects to 'keep ideas fresh'.  Members of the London studio will critique the work of their San Francisco colleagues and vice versa.  A strategy they truly believe has contributed to their success in producing stand-out design.  Furthermore, design teams offer each other alternative cultural perspectives that bring uniqueness to their complementary markets. 

Turner has advice for students and those new to the design industry about the question of specialising or generalising in practice.  He states that an attitude of open-mindedness is crucial in the fledgling stages of a designer's career and employers value diversity.  However, once you find that area of your craft that you are really passionate about, that is the moment to let the direction steer you towards becoming an expert.  A small caveat to this however is the notion that design disciplines are not isolated from each other, they evolve, and keeping abreast of this evolution is important if a designer is to stay relevant.

  1. Imagine new models of practice that help you grow and develop throughout this course;

  2. Imagine what media and communication platforms could help support your potential new models of practice;

Building on the discussion I had last week with Shelley Nuth about Mental Health in the Workplace, I wanted to consider how employers can instil a feeling of safety and security in their workforce, which should positively impact on a persons mental health at work.  I would like people to think off work as their safe haven, a space where no matter what is going on in their lives, work is a constant that will support and build self esteem and confidence. 

With this in mind I am currently facing a problem in my role as Health & Safety Administrator within my husbands business.  The question I would like to answer is:  How can business leaders/managers communicate with employees in a way that encourages respectful consideration of all stakeholders points of view and a collaborative approach to continuous improvement.

The key questions that the model will need to address are:

  1. Why are we communicating?

  2. Who are we communicating with?

  3. How do employees want to communicate?

  4. How do we present the comms in an easily accessible & visually stimulating format? (UI)

  5. How do we ensure a respectful dialogue?

  6. How do we demonstrate the bigger picture of the collaborative efforts whilst also highlighting individual voices?

  7. How will the communications effect changes/improvements within the business?

One of the key points I learnt as a teacher is that students want to be involved in the decision making process in the classroom.  There is a particular school of thought around how to get groups of individuals to value each others opinions and work together called The 3 C's.  Developed by David Johnson & Roger Johnson in 1999, the concept is based around co-operation, conflict resolution and civic values. ( - Published with reusable license by Patrick McGuire)

The co-operative approach recognises that people within an organisation work better when they co-operate with each other and develop social interaction with each other.  Creating small teams of people and involving other stakeholders, such as customers helps to create a community feeling.  If all parties feel they are valuable with the 'family' they are more likely to see problems as a mutual issue to resolve. 

A culture of conflict resolution involving mediated restorative conversations supports a non-violent or aggressive reaction to disagreements.  If both parties feel their voices have been heard and a compromise reached, the working environment is less likely to be adversely effected.    

Appropriate behaviours in the workplace must be clear to all and all stakeholders must feel that they are working towards a common goal for a message of civic value to be communicated.   A common value system should exist that all members sign up to, with the promise to look after each other at the heart of it. 

The key points I take from this educational model of effective collaboration are:

  • Small groups of people working towards a common goal, fosters employee purpose, engagement & social enhancement.

  • Demonstrating the customer viewpoint to employees is a valuable tool for encouraging improvement through collaboration.

  • Employee disagreements need careful and strategic handling that is respectful to all parties involved, mediation and moderation is key.

  • The needs to be clear purpose for the working model, that stakeholders view as worthwhile & impactful.

The Government of Western Australia devised a program of support for employers in delivering a 'Healthy Workplace'.  In the document they discuss ways of collecting information from staff about health status.

Methods of communication are determined by the routine access staff have to digital media during their working day.  Some staff do not have good access to a computer and therefore analogue methods of communication would be required, such as face to face chats, compulsory meetings and paper surveys.  In this age of digital communication, I believe that analogue communications are limited in their reach.  The Covid pandemic has forced many people to turn to digital methods of communication for work and education, however there has been criticism that this is not a fully inclusive approach.  I believe in a work based scenario, an employee should be provided with the means to access digital platforms and the training to be able to use such services.  Unfortunately, I also appreciate that there is a cost involved in this and therefore an analogue back up version of the digital communication may be required in some businesses.  However, for my collaborative model, I am going to use the business I work for as an example, whose workforce are digitally literate and would find an ICT based platform accessible. 

Initial Ideas Posted on the Ideas Wall

My business proposal is trying to solve the problem of effective communication with staff in relation to matters of Health, Safety & Well-being at work.  I have identified that communication & consultation with employees is often clunky and erratic.  I want my tool for this week to aid that communication and to have a two way flow that also enables staff to provide their valuable insights.  Ideas so far…


Forum Style Survey

Staff add their thoughts anonymously to a set of key questions the business owners want to consult on, other staff (including management) can add theirs and everyone can see responses.  Hopefully a dialogue and problem solving will take effect (will need moderation for unhelpful/disrespectful comments)


Mood Symbols

Staff place a symbol (with a unique ID code that changes daily)on a board that conveys their state of mind each morning.  A selection of well-being staff reps (trained in supporting mental health) make contact with anyone feeling low who might want to talk.  Everyone can visually see how the collective workforce is feeling.


Work Groups Brainstorm Displays

Working groups are assigned to discuss specific business issues.  They do so through a forum.  The group lead posts ideas and visuals on the groups working brainstorm board where management & staff can see their suggestions/ideas.



Key members of staff are given a camera for one hour each week.  In that hour they are allowed to record work in progress (care would be needed here in regard to GDPR - some staff may opt out of direct photographs of them - likewise if any photos are used for marketing purposes). Photos would be reviewed by management and a collage produced for display around the premises.  Best photo of the week could also have prominent display.

Answering Key Questions to Focus on Model Goals

1.  Why are we communicating?

Staff want to feel more included in the business improvement plan, have their views heard and contribute to progress.  Company Directors want to modernise the business working model, improve employee attitudes and behaviours, and develop an improvement plan.


2.  Who are we communicating with?

Employees to directors, employees to employees, directors to directors

3.  How do employees want to communicate?

80% digital means, 20% face to face, meetings, paper notice boards 


4.  How do we present the communications in an easily accessible & visually stimulating format? (UI)

Accessible - Large screen interactive (in strategic staff only areas), small screen application (phones or tablets), paper based notice boards  (in strategic staff only areas), audio files, braille/large font formats, translatable files, remote access.

Visually Stimulating - Colour, images, typography, moving image, sound effects.

5.  How do we ensure a respectful dialogue?

Interactions impartially moderated before publishing. 2 moderators working together, 1 representing management, 1 representing workforce.


6.  How do we demonstrate the bigger picture of the collaborative efforts whilst also highlighting individual voices?

Big picture - key points & related images/hyperlinks displayed as a brainstorm.

Individual Voices - Individual questions highlighted each day for everyone to consider and respond to. - Questions of the day/week, idea of the day. 1 chosen by management rep, 1 chosen by staff rep.

7.  How will the communications effect changes/improvements within the business?

Consultation on a key topic has a limited time frame for deliberation.  When the period ends, all responses are reviewed by management & staff reps together.  A selection and rejection process evaluates the merits of the feedback and concludes action points to ensure progression. 


The cycle begins again with another focus topic. 

My pitch is designed to be heard by employers who are interested in a platform that helps them gauge employee insights and ideas around an aspect of business improvement plans or changes.  The overarching aim is to include employees in the process of re-establishing company vision & values, thereby fostering a culture of community in the workforce.

Workshop Challenge

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