In the past I've often heard people in the industry say that everybody thinks that they're a designer. It's stated with authority, and more than likely, with a note of sarcasm - no doubt I've self-righteously stated it myself in the past.
I've managed to stay active in the industry for long enough to have gained a colourful and diverse experience of the design industry - both design-led & non design-led businesses; a start-up, a short stint in a warm and nurturing design consultancy, a corporate in-house design team, and now a tech-savvy innovation business. My experiences have led me to realise what design competency brings to all kinds of operations, as well as the value that it generates.
I've come to realise that most people, if not everyone, really are designers - and there's nothing wrong with that concept.
I'm not going to approach the topic of what constitutes a 'good designer', or traits of a 'bad designer'. Instead, I want to share one of my more recent realisations, and prompt a discussion - see what you think.
Working alongside Engineers and Data Scientists, as well as other design disciplines including; UX, UI, Motion-graphic, Industrial Design, Service, and Research & Strategy, it has become obvious, that whilst we're all designers, we approach tasks in different ways.
As an Industrial Designer, I'll often start with consideration of who's likely to use the 'thing' I'm thinking about, where, when, and why, and slowly start to consider the embodiment of the device or service.
Finally, I'll get around to thinking about how it can be produced in a sensible manner, without losing the essence of what made it an interesting and valuable concept. A Mechanical Engineer or Electronics Engineer can often work within the same solution categories as an Industrial Designer, but they're more likely to tackle the challenge from a different start point. What needs to be built and tested? How will it be made? What resolution of data capture is required? How will the data be processed? How much will it cost? These are all questions we ask ourselves but we just weigh our priorities differently.
I don't think it's about one method being wrong, the other right, or one being better than another, instead, it's always about appropriateness. Different approaches are more appropriate in different scenarios, and generally, akin to my personal view of design - it's all about achieving a delicate balance of competing constraints and collaboration, as opposed to arrogance & ego.
So, if everybody is a Designer, what's the role of Design within an organisation?
I've come to learn that no single discipline can holistically consider product ideas in their entirety. Collaborative effort and genuine respect for one another’s sweet spot is what often produces a great idea.
Designers are often great conduits between discrete functions, either operating between, or sometimes spanning, the invisible borders set out by traditional technical disciplines.
In the end, we all have important roles to play, regardless of job titles and disciplines.