I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man Jay-Z

(INCOMPLETE) MANIFESTO

Design that unlocks business value

As a designer in the digital industry, I observe daily how design plays a crucial role in unlocking business value. At the same time, I experienced how difficult it is for designers to have a spot in the situation room. I come to the consclusion that designers must build a business-relevant narrative highlighting the benefits in terms of business of a well-established design practice.

Empathy isn’t just a tool for designers to create delightful user experiences. It’s also a required skill for understanding the perspectives of company leaders. By taking the time to understand how the organisation operates and what drives profitability, designers can demonstrate the value of considering design as a critical asset in the business decision-making process. It’s time for designers to learn how to speak business!

I’m not a businessman,
I’m a business, man

Jay-Z

Design is not about how it looks; it is about how it works

I admit to having goosebumps whenever I hear fellow designers waving the “Design is not about how it looks, is about how it works” flag. It sounds like the last resort a designer can rely on to gain credibility among decision-makers.

Even if I understand where they come from, I feel this statement is weak and fluffy. Let’s be honest: most C-level folks can’t fully understand the meaning of such a statement, and their first thought will be, “We’re not Apple“. The truth is that established companies think design is just about making things look pretty, even in 2023 (almost 2024!). I think the fault is on the designers. As a community, we didn’t explain to businesses how design unlocks business value. We have rarely demonstrated how design, as tech, is a crucial pillar in executing the company’s strategy.

Three silver bullets I use to build my narrative of the design that unlocks business value

Embracing a design practice is a powerful way for companies to unlock business value. A well-established design practice identifies the sweet spot where user needs, business goals, and technological opportunities intersect. In this way, organisations can deliver digital experiences that are both captivating and sustainable. By nurturing design culture, businesses can rise to the challenge of creating best-in-class experiences. Ultimately, they will seize the opportunity of digital business transformation.

  1. Design improves business because it infects companies with the lethal virus of user obsession.
  2. Design provides a vital toolkit to improve communication among business units, ensuring a shared vision and a robust execution plan for the organizations.
  3. A well-established design practice is vital to organisations, especially incumbents, embarking on the digital business transformation journey.

Conclusions

Dopamino documents my journey of creating a narrative that emphasizes the importance of design in unlocking business value beyond pixels. I strongly advocate for designers to sit at the table in crucial business decision-making discussions, as I believe that design practice is essential to the success of any organization. However, for this to happen, designers must first understand how businesses operate so that they can effectively bridge user needs with business goals.


Do you want to know more about design that unlocks business value?