How many designers, when faced with opposing views of a market, are willing to stick their neck out to make tough decisions? How many fight for their customers and their companies in rough times? Designers have to want to make money. They must desire to influence their business' bottom line— or else they'll find themselves sitting on the outside of big decisions. Designers must learn to carry the burden of difficult business decisions by creating more than just good feelings— they need to create profits! Greed is not only good, it's necessary for building awesome products and services that people use.
Steve Jobs is a Designer. He's also greedy. Whether you agree with me or not, he has masterminded a company comeback that includes creating some of the most successful products in the history of the world. He's built a hit factory— not by constructing a manufacturing empire— but building a complete organization around design and marketing. Apple products proudly bear the words, "Designed in California." He's also sitting on 22 billion in cash, no debt and a loyal customer following ready to pay a premium for his goods. He's everything you want in a Design Manager— passionate, a savvy businessman and knowledgeable about what the customer wants. And he's proudly taking your money by the truck load.
My post last week, User Experience Doesn't Exist, highlights where designers get stuck. Designing for user experiences is a dead end— trying to influence organizations through experiences is not likely to create the same impact a 'Steve Jobs' can make on a company. Have you ever heard of User Experience Accounting or User Experience Sales? How about User Experience Customer Service? Of course not. These roles are responsible for getting things done and helping customers achieve their goals. It's just assumed that their actions are focused on the customer. And like most organizations, these groups are paid for their performance— not for their empathy for the customer.
Do designers have the stomach to take financial responsibility for their actions and work?
Browsing the business section of the San Jose Mercury News highlights the disparity between traditional roles and designers. In the business section yesterday it listed the stocks sales and purchases of the Valley big wigs. While I don't know most of the executives on the list, I did notice that more of them were buying their company stocks rather than selling them. Millions of dollars were being thrown back into the market. That's what I call believing in your company&mdash and in the face of one of the largest recessions of my lifetime, that caught my eye. Buy low, sell high. Money talks. Do designers have the guts?
If designers want what's best for the user, they're going to have to learn to be greedy. They're also going to have to invest in their decisions.