Articles · · 2 min read

Your work won't speak for itself.

5 lessons that have helped me amplify the value of design.

Embracing Business Metrics

As a design leader, I've come to realize that embracing business metrics is non-negotiable. Initially, I was comfortable sticking to traditional design metrics—user satisfaction, usability scores, and the like. But I learned the hard way that these alone don't cut it when it comes to proving the value of design to business stakeholders.

Today, my focus is on metrics that align with a company's strategic objectives, like revenue growth, customer retention, and operational efficiency. This shift wasn't easy, but it forced me out of my comfort zone and into the realm of business strategy. Now, I can confidently demonstrate how our design work directly contributes to the bottom line, making it indispensable to the organization's success.

The Risk of Irrelevance

I've faced the harsh truth that design, no matter how visually stunning or user-friendly, risks becoming irrelevant if it doesn't align with business goals. Early in my career, I believed that excellent design would naturally earn its place at the table. But I quickly learned that if our designs don't contribute to business outcomes, they are undervalued. This realization was a wake-up call. It pushed me to continuously justify our design work in terms that resonate with business leaders. By showing how our designs drive revenue, enhance customer loyalty, and streamline operations, I've secured a stronger, more respected position for design within the company.

Aggressive Self-Advocacy

Advocating for myself aggressively was a game-changer. I used to think that good work would speak for itself, but that's not the reality in the corporate world. I now understand the importance of proactive self-promotion and visibility. Regularly communicating our wins, sharing data-backed results, and building my personal brand within the company have become integral parts of my role. This aggressive approach to self-advocacy ensures that our successes are recognized and celebrated, and it has significantly enhanced my influence and impact as a design leader.

Ethical Self-Advocacy

While advocating for myself, I've always been mindful of maintaining integrity and transparency. Ethical self-promotion is crucial; it means acknowledging the contributions of my team and being honest about the impact and limitations of our work. I've found that this approach not only builds trust but also reinforces my credibility. Being transparent about our successes and challenges ensures that our advocacy is respected and taken seriously. It's a fine balance, but one that is essential for long-term success and integrity in my role.

The Historian Role

Embracing the role of a historian has been one of the most enlightening aspects of my journey as a design leader. Documenting and communicating the history and evolution of our design projects has provided invaluable insights. This historical perspective helps us understand what has worked and what hasn't, and it allows us to build a coherent narrative that showcases the strategic value of design over time. By acting as a historian, I've been able to present a compelling story of our design efforts, making it clear how our work has evolved and contributed to the company's strategic goals. This narrative not only strengthens our position but also ensures that our contributions are recognized and valued within the organization.

Through these insights, I've transformed my approach to design leadership. By aligning with business metrics, advocating aggressively yet ethically, and documenting our journey, I've amplified my impact and ensured that design remains a vital part of our company's success.

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