Designers are the creative force that drives innovation and progress in organizations. They are the ones who come up with the new ideas, create the visual concepts, and design the user interfaces. However, despite their critical role, designers often find themselves on the outs in the business world.

Designers want power, but they do not want to be held accountable.

Designers tend to desire power and influence, but they are reluctant to take responsibility and be held accountable. This reluctance to be accountable is in contrast to product managers, who have power because they are accountable for their product’s success or failure. They stand in and take responsibility, stating that they are the person in charge and the person to blame. In contrast, designers are often hesitant to embrace accountability.

Mismatching mindsets

This lack of accountability stems from a mindset mismatch between designers, engineers, and business people. Engineers and business people tend to work in a more reductive and analytical manner, breaking things down into constituent parts and working in a way that prioritizes certainty and predictability. Designers, on the other hand, need to be creative and generative, which requires embracing ambiguity and uncertainty. This kind of mindset mismatch often leads designers to feel like they are on the outside looking in, while business people and engineers hold the power.

Designers can only gain the respect and recognition they deserve by taking on accountability for what they do.

Designers are often viewed as being special and valuable to the organization, but this view is not always justified. Many designers do not want to do the most basic work when it comes to understanding business and demonstrating value. Instead, I’ve experienced a tendency to wanting to be treated as special and have design seen as valuable without putting in the effort to demonstrate their worth.

Designers need to embrace accountability

Designers are essential to any organization, but the starting point of their mindset imposes several obstacles for effectively working together with business people (product managers) and engineers. Designers need to embrace accountability and demonstrate their value to the organization – only then can designers gain the respect and recognition they deserve.

Anders Toxboe Author

Based out of Copenhagen, Denmark, Anders Toxboe is a Product Discovery coach and trainer, helping both small and big clients get their product right. He also founded and a series of other projects. Follow Anders at @uipatternscom.