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Helping design leaders shine

Helping design leaders shine

Of all the skills taught in business school, or during a career running a business, what immediately springs to mind? Financial management, communication, sales, marketing, customer service…. design?

For some, that last one may jar a little. All good leaders will be aware of the business benefits of designing great products, of course. But do they have a clear picture of its impact on the future health of their company?

Well, Judy Wert of Wert&Co, a design industry recruiting firm that has worked with companies like Airbnb, Sonos, and Marriott, said some leaders are coming round to the business value of design: “More and more leaders care about design and feel that there’s something about design that’s going to be important to the success of their business.”

And this is being reflected in the demand for designers, with Wert saying: “The need for designers is off the charts.” In fact, Figma’s 2022 survey of 316 design leaders in the US, UK, Germany and France found that design teams had grown by 31% over the past three years.

In 2020, Figma investor Peter Levine went so far as to say we’re now in The Decade of Design, predicting: products and companies will “live or die by their product design and design literacy.”

So, with bigger teams, and even a fundamental role in defining the business roadmap - the future of design looks strong.

But the role of design will only reach its full potential if business leaders truly understand it. And there are signs there’s a lot of work to do.

According to a McKinsey and Company study from 2020, 90% of CEOs don’t regularly involve design leaders in strategy development, while fewer than half of design leaders feel their CEOs fully understand their role.

Perhaps part of the reason is that as a formal discipline design is newer to many organisations than many other core business functions, such as sales and marketing. If that’s the case in your business, it may be time to take action. And for some it may help to think about the basics.

Ask yourself;

  • What are the differences between product design, communication design, content design and strategic design?
  • What are the different options for how design teams are structured?
  • How should design teams work with the rest of the business?
  • Do you have a clear picture of what drives designers and design leaders?
  • What are the career prospects for designers within your business?

Perhaps most importantly - have you thought about how the right designers can solve wider business problems that may go far beyond the KPIs they’ve historically been held accountable for?

If you’re not sure about the answers to those questions, our new eBook will help. The Business Leader’s Guide to Design lifts the lid on designers as inventors and problem solvers, pointing out that there are more opportunities now than ever for them to help shape how your business sees the world.

These key insights may help you understand how design teams work, how to get more from them, and how to picture your business’s future as a design-led organisation.

The Business Leader’s Guide to Design

How is Design... designed in your business?

Read the report

See how Figma can help you scale design

Great design has the potential to differentiate your product and brand. But nothing great is made alone. Figma brings product teams together in a fast and more inclusive design workflow.

Get in touch to learn more about how Figma can help companies scale design.

We’ll cover how Figma can help:

  • Bring every step of the design process—from ideation, to creation, to building designs—into one place
  • Accelerate design workflows with shared company-wide design systems
  • Foster inclusivity in the product team process with products that are web-based, accessible, and easy to use

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