Was on a meetup today, and one of the questions asked from the presenter was “What’s the relationship between business and design at your company”. Ofcourse the intention of the question was more about how we as a design team work together with other teams, departments, organizations. But since words do matter, for me the answer was obvious:

Design is business.

There are signs that designers at companies, or at least aspiring designers still think our function is separate from other parts of a company.

In many sense, that’s true. Design has a unique approach to how we do things. Some of the things we do are less defined, not only since our discipline is less mature as others (say, HR). But also since being creative, figuring out innovative solutions is a messy, less defined process, with sometimes unclear steps and uncertain outcomes. The rise of design thinking brought many of our tools and processes closer to other departments, but integrating these into normal business as usual ways of working will take longer even for the early majority.

But in many other senses we are (and need to be) a normal part of business. Chief among these ways - we need to get clear, possibly much clearer what are the ways we contribute the business, what value do we deliver, how the things we do fit into companies’ missions, and how the things we do fit into the operations of businesses.

This is also very much at the core of the “getting a seat at the table” discussions. If we think business is somewhat apart of us, we are also relieving ourselves from the responsibility of having a positive impact on the companies.

Smarter people than me came to a similar conclusion, for example this talk by Satyam Kantamneni.