Designers - Your Hidden Asset to Success
I was lucky to go for a site visit of a recent project I helped execute. Mind you, this is not a common practice for many designers, as we work in a constant buzz of busyness which results in our unfortunate detachment from the work we produce. Being an observer in the space and speaking to a few of the users, I realized that this was money and time thrown to the wind. People did not notice our work, and even if they did, they did not understand it, adding confusion to the experience. It was a disappointment for me and also a lesson learned. Looking at it in retrospective, it was not an unexpected outcome due to a few reasons which I find important to address.
First off, I would like to help people understand the role of a designer. We are highly trained professionals in problem framing, problem solving, visual communication, aesthetics and execution. Too often our strategic side is buried under piles of other work which robs the project of a major advantage and impedes its’ success.
Designers are oftentimes not activated as an asset before their aesthetic eye is needed. I have seen this happen time and again when it comes to graphic designers working with a sales or marketing departments and even (as I recently noticed) when working with other design discipline professionals. There is a over simplified idea of what a graphic designer is and what they can do. Adding designers to a strategic team to look at areas of improvement and innovation from the get go is the first step towards success. Coming from a background where experimentation, play and criticism are engrained into our work, we bring a unique toolkit with us. Design thinking is how our brain is wired from the very start.
I understand that often times departments and people want to take the fame for the work and results. They feel the urge and desire to make things happen, but also to attribute the outcomes to themselves. In my experience, this is a common place where the shortcoming of teamwork is born. It is important to understand that a lot of time and effort can be saved when gathering together a multi-disciplinary team to create a collaborative environment from the very beginning.
I should note in this post, that there is a fair amount of design professionals who will not start the work unless given a design brief. They are concerned with being productive, executing and their paycheque. That is truly ok and I am happy there is a portion of us that are wired this way. I only speak for the group of us who see too many missed opportunities, and their efforts wasted.
So next time you are thinking about changing, improving and allocating resources, get your designer to sit at the table for a deeper understanding and strategic problem solving. Activate us as an asset and not simply as an execution tool. There is strength in diversity and in bringing in different perspectives into play.
Above illustration created by me, Iliana Sergeev.