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Design’s Role in the Company of the Future

Experiences are broken, Disruption is happening

It seems like more and more these days, we hear stories about industries and companies being disrupted by upstarts or adjacent competitors offering a different value. A lot of folks, including myself, attribute disruption to enhancement and integration of technology. Technology is a driving force to the disruption we’re seeing in multiple industries, but I think there is more to the story of disruption. Something more human. Something more visceral. Throughout my discussions and interactions with clients, colleagues and partners, the biggest driver of disruption can truly be reduced down to design and the role that design plays within an organization.

Image Credit: Photo by Juhasz Imre from Pexels
Image Credit: Photo by Juhasz Imre from Pexels

More specifically, traditional organizations typically operate with the following mindsets:

  • Design as an Afterthought: In organizations experiencing disruption, design is usually viewed as an afterthought once the strategy and engineering is complete. This creates an experience that solves an organizational problem, not a consumer problem.
  • Organizations are running on a Siloed status quo: The fragmentation of organizations in silos create a fragmented consumer experience from touchpoint to touchpoint. Not many organizations have someone at the top of the organization focused on and defining the holistic consumer experience.
  • Revenue & Profit Focus: When satisfying a revenue focused board of directors and shareholders, decisions are made to maximize profit, not necessarily maximizing the consumer experience, which minimizes or reduces the role of design.

What the disruptors have figured out

However, the disruptors started from a different angle. An angle with consumer experience and design at the center of their organization. This radical idea put the role of design at the table with other leaders in the organization, building a company with the consumer at the center. Having an organization built around how consumers interact with the company is not only a way to transact faster, but also to fulfill the brand and company promise at each touchpoint, building stronger relationships and loyalty. This consumer-focused mindset may sound counter-intuitive to the traditional revenue and profit focus we’re used to. But the funny thing is, the revenues and valuations of these disruptor organizations are proving to be on par, if not higher than their traditional counterparts. All of this showcasing and defining the return on investment of design within an organization. These trends are building what the future of business and companies need to have to succeed:

  • Human Centered Design: Design of the business and the experience is not just around the consumer behaviors, but around the transaction that a consumer is trying to solve.
  • The User Experience is Key: By having maniacal focus on the consumer experience, design can provide a way to act more efficiently for the organization while finding ways to add value to the consumer.
  • Focus on Value: Good design focuses on the value that it delivers to the user. And this value is more around restraint than complexity. Disruptive companies are focused extremely on their core offering and restrain from adding more to the interaction.

Redefine the Role of Design for the Company of the Future 

The ultimate role that I see design playing at the company of the future, is that true design leaders have the ability to not only see the entirety of the holistic view for the consumer > brand relationship, but also can dive way down at the micro level to see how a specific interaction communicates or fulfills the brand’s promise. This ability to make the intangible moments tangible is a rare, but extremely valuable thing to have for an organization and for the consumer. This role is exceptionally powerful to deliver insights to other leaders within the organization. It gives thought and texture to ways on becoming more efficient operationally, but also identifies new or incremental value for consumers, leading to new revenue streams and business units. Embracing design at the top ranks of the organization is an investment for the company to ensure its success in the future.

Key Takeaways

  • Disruption isn’t just happening because of technology. It’s the mindset and focus a company puts on design.
  • Traditional organizations have been built on revenue and profit goals across their siloed departments. Very little effort is put towards the holistic consumer experience or Human Experience Design.
  • When used as a key driver to business decisions and development, design can have a tremendous ROI for current revenue, but also for long term value.
  • Design at the center of an organization can also pave the way for incremental and new revenue streams by having the holistic and myopic focus on the consumer experience.
  • The company of the future will put the emphasis of design at the center of the organization which includes the consumer and the consumer experience.

File_000About the Author: Paul Miser is the CEO, Co-Founder of CHINATOWN BUREAU, a digital product studio and consultancy headquartered in New York City. By providing strategies and products, CHINATOWN BUREAU helps their clients become digitally-powered organizations. He can be emailed at

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