Designers Finally Have A Seat At The Table. Now What?

About 15 years ago when I started at my first tech company, design was seen by most as an afterthought. Even as a senior designer, I wasn’t invited to meetings to present my work and couldn’t imagine anyone asking me to weigh in on a product decision. Flash forward to today, and many designers hold the coveted seat at the table we’ve long been dreaming of. We’re making key strategic decisions and helping to shape the direction of companies. We got here because we proved design can solve big problems in a way that others cannot. This is a victory, one that we earned through a lot of hard work, and we should be proud of ourselves.

But let’s not rush to pat ourselves on the back just yet. Over the past few years, I’ve seen a problem emerging. As we shoulder new responsibilities and take bigger design leadership roles, we are falling short. I see us paying too much attention to the “design” part of the role and not enough to “leadership” – defending our own interests without deeper understanding of the businesses and broader contexts we must operate in. I’m concerned that if we don’t step it up on the actual leadership part, we’re in danger of losing the seat at the table.

About 15 years ago when I started at my first tech company, design was seen by most as an afterthought. Even as a senior designer, I wasn’t invited to meetings to present my work and couldn’t imagine anyone asking me to weigh in on a product decision. Flash forward to today, and many designers hold the coveted seat at the table we’ve long been dreaming of. We’re making key strategic decisions and helping to shape the direction of companies. We got here because we proved design can solve big problems in a way that others cannot. This is a victory, one that we earned through a lot of hard work, and we should be proud of ourselves.

But let’s not rush to pat ourselves on the back just yet. Over the past few years, I’ve seen a problem emerging. As we shoulder new responsibilities and take bigger design leadership roles, we are falling short. I see us paying too much attention to the “design” part of the role and not enough to “leadership” – defending our own interests without deeper understanding of the businesses and broader contexts we must operate in. I’m concerned that if we don’t step it up on the actual leadership part, we’re in danger of losing the seat at the table.

Load article and continue reading - 9 min read