As design has matured into an essential business function, its role within the organization has emerged: to act as the connective tissue between the other functions. Good designers must speak the languages of business strategy, marketing and technology, while simultaneously representing the voice of the customer.
We move fluidly between these worlds and act as interpreters between them. We help executives diagnose problems and prioritize among many competing initiatives. Ultimately we present our work visually, leaving as little to the imagination as possible.
Professionally, my biggest strengths are my ability to rapidly process lots of information and ideate possible solutions immediately. My approach plays to these intellectual strengths, while also recognizing that design is a very human and sometimes emotional process.
1. Seek first to understand
My first step is to learn as much as possible about the company, its products, competitors, customers and internal stakeholders. In many cases, challenges that seem to exist in one area have their origins elsewhere. Seeing the big picture is essential, so I collect as much information as possible.
2. Identify behavioral patterns
The goal of design is to change human behavior. So I look for existing patterns of behavior, not only among customers but also within product and technology teams. Sometimes these are obvious and expressed in clear metrics; sometimes they are hidden and reveal themselves in choices of language or repeated decisions. Before we can change the situation, we must understand what’s really going on.
3. Build consensus
Over the course of my career, I have come to believe that consensus-building is essential to the design process. Everyone in the organization must feel bought into the outcome and understand why certain decisions were made. I like to propose solutions as quickly as possible but in very rough form, inviting everyone to provide feedback as early as possible. Whiteboarding, paper prototyping and lo-fi wireframes are essential tools.
4. Create reusable structures
Modern designers no longer focus on one finished product. Instead, we think systematically, creating parts that can be moved around, tested and optimized. Our output includes design systems, component libraries, and modular content along with strategies for testing and optimization.