Why Designers Fail

by October 22, 2008

Scott Berkun recently published a survey of 389 participants on why designers fail. The survey explored the reasons why designers, and people who work with designers, believe designers don’t achieve the results they desire.

Interestingly, a good portion of the top 15 issues the survey identified matched the list of factors limiting the organizational influence of design Tom Chi and I gathered after presenting our Influencing Strategy by Design workshop to designers across the World. The top five issues from Scott's survey were:

  • People in non-design roles making design decisions
  • Managers making design decisions w/o design training
  • Designers don’t seek enough data before designing
  • No time is provided for long term thinking
  • Not receptive to critical feedback

Scott concluded that "many top reasons for failure are not typically considered design issues, such as collaboration skills, persuasion skills, and receiving critical feedback." This has another interesting corollary to Influencing Strategy by Design.

organizational skills

As represented in the image above, we focus the course on teaching designers skills required for organizational effectiveness. Once designers reach a certain level of design learning (interaction design, typography, etc.) they need to master additional skills outside the design cookbook in order to gain strategic influence within most organizations.