As a designer, where does my most valuable work happen?
I'm increasingly found away from the practical tools of our trade, my time instead spent negotiating the political, cultural, and interpersonal landscapes of the companies I work with in the pursuit of better design.
Uncovering opportunities to make design happen more effectively is a growing - but seldom advertised - facet of my role. Executing the tactical work required for progress can be an exercise in diplomacy and compromise as much as a test of my practical skills.
This ongoing focus shift has brought with it some guilt. Can I call myself a designer if I'm not practicing the craft as often as I used to? I'll write more about this soon, but my conclusion is most definitely yes.
We almost always start practical design work from a position of compromise. Knowing how and when to move the needle is a design skill, and it's as an enabler of better design that I'm most excited to improve.
Any pangs of doubt or guilt about my focus on this area of growth were recently tempered by the wise words of Daniel Burka in an interview for High Resolution. Daniel believes that two thirds of a designer's work is done away from the screen: in meetings, prioritising, building relationships with teams.
He's spot on. This is our job too.