Series: Designing from Inside the Box
Part I: Why big business and the designer are fated to move into a balanced partnership founded on mutually assured success.
PART 1 OF 3
Our first order of business… is talking big business. It’s no secret we designers have developed a like/hate relationship with the enterprise. In exchange for a steady paycheck, a 401k and reasonable hours (like), we commit to a daily grind of tortuous monotony, broken promises and professional suffering (hate).
But what if I told you, the designer and big business are now fated to move into a balanced partnership founded on mutually assured success. I know, I know—it sounds too good to be true. Just hear me out.
To work as designers in the digital product space today, and maintain gainful employment, we have three options: agency life, the startup game, or big business enterprise. I have always found myself magnetically drawn to big business, despite its immense challenges. Why? you ask. I’ve asked myself that question, re-peat-ed-ly. I mean, I love a challenge, but spending fifteen years enduring the same struggles seems punishing. And my therapist agrees.
Here’s my revelation: The corporate life may not be the obvious choice for those possessing creativity. Certainly, the endless uphill battle never ceases to remind me that traditional business models still have yet to fully bring design into the fold as a core capability. But as practitioners of design, our main goal is to create change for the better—and the big businesses of the world have plentiful resources and the brand reach to make a massive impact.
So, if the designer can elevate themselves to influence high-level enterprise decisions, the possibilities are limitless. To do this, the designer is best positioned within the walls of large companies, rather than on the outside through a limited-access agency engagement or fleeting freelancer.
Once inside, how does the designer achieve this elevated influencer status? Any way you slice it, it’s all about vision and smart strategy to execute vision. The ones responsible for vision success have the ability to not only course correct a wayward enterprise ship, but to ultimately influence their direction. You feel me?
The digital product designer (formerly known as the UXD’er, prior to embarking on the transformative journey that evolved their product game and strategic maturity to emerge as the bridge that connects design-to-business) harnesses their newfound power by championing the product vision: visioneering.
Visioneering. Beyond any one process, visioneering speaks to championing the keystone of a digital product—the product vision—from a place rooted in mindful strategy, purposeful collaboration, and calculated flexibility.
It’s worth repeating: your product vision is the keystone of a digital product. Vision work isn’t an imaginative exercise toyed with during a lull or pixel playtime for the visually inclined. It’s not a last-minute fire drill your digital leadership pulled at the 11th hour—needing something to show to c-suite stakeholders.
Your product vision is a strategic compass. The tool that keeps an evolving digital offering aligned with a company’s north star—its mission and purpose—and deliverables tethered to a course that’s solving for user problems through the lens of commercially critical business objectives. The singular asset so invaluable, product efforts can’t find success without it. In absence of strategic vision, teams become lost working in circles or carelessly heading off in any direction.
Here’s where we digital product designers start applying our visioneering skills. Big businesses are struggling with a generation of product offerings that hazily meet business objectives, vaguely address user problems and misalign with their company’s mission—collectively contributing to digital ecosystems expanding in disarray.
The very real struggles facing these enterprises’ digital programs are directly related to the absence of planning for a product’s strategic vision. Seems pretty obvious, right?
As important as a product’s strategic vision is, you would think big business would do a better job handling, nurturing, and dedicating resources to the weighty responsibility of achieving it. But, unfortunately, most don’t. And even more troubling, they seem blind to the need, continuing to launch digital offerings that fail to bloom.
Suffice to say, the big businesses are desperately in need of help. Help not just from anyone—but from us. The digital product designers practicing visioneering. And we’re ready. Ready to take full advantage of the enterprise’s mega platform, plentiful resources and brand reach to create impactful change for the better.
Still with me? Awesome. I'll see you on June 5th. https://oreil.ly/2InmU2Y
All rights reserved © 2017, 2018, 2019 Laura Fish. The Designer’s Guide to Visioneering.