Trust me, I’m a…Designer?


..well obviously I’m not. However I’m a blogger so of course I have opinions and the desire to share them 🙂

Let me preface this by saying I have nothing but respect and admiration for the designers I have known and worked with. I’ve relied on their skills and insights time and time again on more projects than I can count. Good designers, whatever the flavour, are invaluable on big digital projects.

That said I have become a little bit uncomfortable with a recent trend that seems to be presenting ‘design’ as some kind of transformation super power. The silver bullet that cures all [institutional] ills. Design brands, design interactions, design services, design organisations. Never fear — Designman is here!


We have already seen the fetishising of the developer/maker role. Again invaluable but as with the designer they do not operate in a vacuum.

Here is why it makes me uncomfortable. I believe in the power of the team. Sure you may have star players and some positions attract those more than others but it is the team that succeeds not the individual (or the discipline).

In my opinion the power of agile, of this whole ‘digital’ approach, comes from the move to empowered multi-disciplinary teams. The role of designers within those teams is crucial — same as the developers, user researchers, ops, subject matter experts, delivery managers, product people and yes even business analysts.

Highlighting a specific discipline as the hero of the story threatens to undermine this entire approach.

It is the complimentary combination of all these skills and backgrounds working towards a shared vision with a common approach where the magic happens. ‘Design thinking’ is a big part of that approach but it is not alone.

Some designers do bring a unique perspective to the problems organisations face (many seem just satisfied making things visually attractive or making interfaces user friendly) but, to use another team analogy, it is the Megazord that wins the day not the individual Power Rangers in their puny Zords 🙂