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Claudia Kotchka Leaves Procter & Gamble.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on May 22, 2008

RitaSue Siegel just pinged me that Claudia Kotchka, the vp of innovation, design and strategy at P&G is leaving. This is huge. She is a giant in design and second only to A.G. Lafley himself in spreading the culture of design thinking throughout P&G. Her energy and brilliance have made all the difference in helping to transform the culture of a giant corporation into an innovation-centric organization. We profiled Claudia in the very first issue of Inside innovation.

This is part of what we said about Claudia:

“Today the company (P&G)has gone from insular to open source, thanks in large part to its cultural alchemist, Claudia Kotchka. In 2000, new CEO A.G. Lafley took office and in 2001 created Kotchka’s position of vice-president for design innovation and strategy. He told Kotchka to help him open up the cloistered halls of P&G and inject design thinking into every corpuscle of the company. Call it the MySpace-ification of P&G. To help change the culture, Kotcha, the mash-up artist, mixes things up. Bring down the walls to get inside people together and throw open the doors to bring in outsiders. Innovate by being connected and inspired by people around you. Be creative by being transparent, open and stimulated by outside, global ideas.

For the first time, fresh ideas flow into P&G from networks of outside scientists, engineers, and trend-spotters. Inside silos are gone — well, going — creating hybrid products born of collaboration like the new Allessi-looking version of the Swiffer. Kotchka has brought in an outside design board of world-class designers to weigh in on product launches. As for her own working area, it is a tiny, messy affair. She spends most of her time in the halls, listening, learning, talking.”

Philip Duncan of Landor will replace Claudia in 2009. He’s ex-P&G. In the release, this is what Lafley said of her: “Under Claudia’s leadership, in only seven years, we’ve built world-class design capability at P&G. She has helped integrate design and design thinking into how we innovate and how we operate as a company. Her passion for the power of design has strengthened our brands and our business.”

I saw Claudia at the Serious Play conference in Pasadena two weeks ago and she told me to write about two things. Design Thinking. And the impact Gen Xers are having on corporate culture. I’m hoping to catch her here in Chicago at the Institute of Design’s Strategy Conference to find out the why of the surprise departure.

Reader Comments


May 23, 2008 2:40 AM

Hmmmmnnnn. Very interesting.

mae collins

May 23, 2008 4:04 AM


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May 23, 2008 6:38 AM

I'd still like to know where Cathy Rings fits into things. Sure would be nice if, as the editor of a news magazine, you would investigate instead of hyperventilate.

You can read what has me confused here ( ) and here ( ).


May 23, 2008 5:25 PM

Here's something else I found interesting: here's what A.G. Lafley had to say about tearing down the office walls:

"Three reasons. First, I wanted an environment that would be more collaborative, more in touch, more designed to bring human beings together. P&G executives travel a lot and there is plenty of communication via cell phone and email. I wanted a place that was low tech and high touch. Second, after the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan, which occurred while I was in charge of Asian operations, I became a big believer in open offices. When we redid the damaged office building and technical center there, we went to open offices everywhere, and I believe the arrangement promoted creativity, collaboration, flexibility and speed. Third, I wanted to make a statement that the P&G leadership was going to lead by example. We put the Learning Center on the same floor as the executive offices because I wanted to send the message that learning is so important that the center is right next to the 12 executives that lead this $45 billion worldwide company, and we expect the executives to be in the Learning Center every week or two teaching and coaching."

I was especially struck by the very personal and doubtlessly impactful experience he had in Kobe, Japan. I can imagine that being the spark that initiated this particular action; the "innovative" spark, so to speak.

The more I investigate, the more it seems as if credit has not been properly made to all involved parties. First, bringing down metaphorical walls linked to ex-P&G people Rings and Barton (which, as it happens, may also have originated in Japan), and now it seems the physical walls coming down are more closely linked to the CEO himself.

Does any news source have the full story behind the innovations credited to Ms. Kotchka? I don't get the impression it's either on Newsweek or BusinessWeek. C'mon, Bruce. Where's the full story? Where's journalistic rigor? Why do I seem to be the only one asking questions? Does it serve the design community to get only part of the innovation story?

Christina Jackson

May 23, 2008 6:06 PM

I hope Claudia continues to speak at design/marketing conferences, continuing to champion the strategic value of design throughout the enterprise.

We're all very grateful for Claudia's contributions and wish her the very best.


May 23, 2008 9:53 PM


so a packaging guy will be her successor.

back to old school branding so it seems...

those were the glory days of design thinkimg.

Lonnie Carpenter

February 20, 2009 9:23 PM

Magnificent human being....magnificent woman.


June 10, 2009 10:46 PM

Where is Claudia working now?

What are her plans after P&G?

Her work at P&G is excellent and important for the improvement, development and management of packaging and branding design.

Designing as a thinking model has become as important as engineering.

Commerce and industry has entered an era of effective creativity and the union of marketing, engineering and designing will become and has become key competitive and strategic functions and actions in the new economy.

Collective, collaborative, creative and effective designing and engineering will be the core of the new products, brands and services in the 21st Century and Claudia understand this very well transforming the way P & G works and creates.

Where ever Claudia decides to continue her pioneering thinking she will bring a great and important contribution.

May 8, 2011 11:28 AM

Claudia_kotchka_leaves_procter_gamble.. Smashing :)

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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