Ah, the intoxicating scent of innovation. I remember it like it was yesterday, especially that one gig with a bigshot Fortune 500 company. The team and I were high on our creative juices, tasked with the almost Herculean job of overhauling their user experience. We came up with this sleek, avant-garde design concept that would’ve left any tech geek drooling. Yet, when we proudly presented it, the CEO, all cool and composed, asked the unthinkable: “Does this color match our annual report?”

Talk about a bucket of cold water. That was the day I had my lightbulb moment. Many businesses don’t understand the essence of design. And, plot twist, sometimes we designers are as clueless about business as a fish on a bicycle. It’s a two-way street, and it’s high time we navigate it properly. So, my creatives, let’s dissect where the heck we zigged when we should’ve zagged and plot a course correction.

Flawed Education

Alright, here’s the tea: somewhere down the road, the world got overly obsessed with how things look. Everywhere you turn, it’s all about aesthetics. The shiniest logo, the sleekest website, the gram-worthy product. It’s no wonder that design schools seem to be more invested in teaching students how to make their portfolios Instagrammable than in tackling the hard questions.

The Stereotype: Designers as craftsmen, not thinkers.

Our society’s unhealthy relationship with aesthetics isn’t doing us any favors. We’re celebrated when our designs are eye-candy but dismissed when we try to be part of strategic decisions. And where does this start? Design schools. They’re so focused on churning out brilliant artists that they sometimes forget the need for critical thinkers. Hell, you can create the most avant-garde piece, but if it doesn’t serve a purpose, what’s the point?

The Reality: Beyond aesthetics – the power of impactful design.

Here’s a novel idea: what if designers were equipped to see the bigger picture? What if we were trained to think not just about the color palette but the whole damn canvas? This means diving deep into realms that aren’t traditionally “design-y”. Business strategy, marketing, user psychology. If a designer doesn’t get these, they’re essentially working with a hand tied behind their back.

The Shift: Embracing holistic design education.

It’s high time our education evolves. Instead of hypothetical assignments, let’s tackle real-world problems. Design isn’t just about beautifying; it’s about problem-solving, damn it. Think of design as a multi-course meal. It shouldn’t just be the appetizing starter but the main course and the dessert too. It’s a strategy, not just a deliverable. We need to cook up solutions that are as practical as they are pretty.

To put it bluntly, our educational system needs an overhaul, and if we’re ever going to bridge the gap between design and business, we’ve got to start there. We need to train designers who can not only craft but also think, challenge, and lead.

Bullshit Problems

Now, let’s chew on this: the tech world is basically a giant sandbox, and guess who’s playing in it? Us. But sometimes, we’re like kids dazzled by the shiniest new toy, even if it’s just a broken whistle. We often chase what’s glitzy, cool, and trending without pausing to ask, “Is this what we really need?”

The Trap: Following what’s ‘cool’ vs. what’s needed.

Trendy projects are like flame for moths; they’re tempting. Who wouldn’t want to work on the latest AR gadget or some VR fantasy land? But the question we often forget to ask is, does it solve a legit problem or is it just…sparkly? Here’s a hard pill to swallow: just because something’s gleaming doesn’t mean it adds value to a business. Sometimes, those shiny objects are just that – objects with no substance.

Asking the Tough Question: Should we?

It isn’t all about “Can we make this?” but rather “Should we?” Ethics in design isn’t just some buzzword; it’s real. We’re not just designing logos; we’re shaping experiences, cultures, and sometimes, even beliefs. Complexity doesn’t always equate to impact. A Rube Goldberg machine is complex, sure, but sometimes all you need is a straightforward lever.

Getting on the Right Bus: Selective, Purposeful Design.

Quality over quantity, my friends. It’s better to tackle a few significant challenges than scatter our energies on myriad meh projects. The mantra? Align with goals – both business and societal. Seek out projects that resonate, not just ones that look good on your portfolio. Let’s stop being design hipsters and start being design heroes.

Bottom line: It’s high time we sift through the bull and pick our battles. Not everything that glitters is gold, and not every design challenge is worth the hustle. But when we find the ones that are? Magic happens.

Innovation Theater

Alright, buckle up kiddos, because we’re diving deep into the rabbit hole of Innovation Theater. Now, I’ve been to more design conferences and pitches than I can count, and let me tell ya, sometimes it feels like I’m watching a Broadway show rather than a legit presentation. There’s smoke, there are mirrors, and a hell of a lot of buzzwords. But when the curtains close, what’s left?

The Hype: Glittery words and glamorous presentations.

We’ve turned design into this buzzword-infested circus. Everything’s about “paradigm shifts,” “game-changers,” and my personal fave: “disruption.” We’ve got everyone thinking we’re about to change the world with every project. I mean, c’mon! Look, not every design is going to “disrupt” an industry. Sometimes, it’s just a slight tweak, a nudge. And that’s cool. Not everything needs a standing ovation.

The Result: Lack of tangible impact.

Here’s a reality check: having a brainstorming session with colorful post-its doesn’t mean jack if nothing gets executed. I’ve seen too many “groundbreaking” ideas die in boardrooms or get lost in email threads. And while empathy is our jam, let’s not forget it’s gotta be paired with practicality. Making a user feel understood is step one. Step two? Offering them a solution that bloody well works.

Bridging the Gap: Design that delivers.

Remember the scientific method from high school? It’s time we bring that back. Let’s trade in those fluffy design thinking sessions for something more…tangible. I’m talking about hypothesis-driven design: you got an idea? Cool. Test it. Get the data. Then, make decisions. We need to transition from being just brainstormers to decision-makers. Data isn’t the enemy; it’s the tool. It’s time to pivot from being just thinkers to doers.

In essence, let’s cut through the theater, the drama, the overhyped jargon. Design’s got a real role to play, and it isn’t just about putting up a show. When we strip it all back and focus on genuine, impactful design that delivers? That’s when we get standing ovations.

Lost in Translation

Alright, lean in, my brilliant creatives. It’s story time. So, you’re sitting in this conference room, looking fly with your Mac out, ready to share your groundbreaking design. You start off, but halfway through, the business folks have that glazed-over look. You know the one. It’s like you’re speaking Dothraki and they’re all about the Queen’s English. Why? Because sometimes we designers live in our bubble, and when we start talking, it’s all Greek to others.

The Disconnect: “They don’t get me!”

Ah, the ancient chasm between design and business teams. Look, I’ve been there. And while we love our design jargon, to others, it can sound like we’ve switched languages. The challenge? Bridging that chasm. When we get too technical or fall too deep into design speak, we risk isolating ourselves. It’s like telling an inside joke that no one else gets. Awkward.

Shifting Gears: Talk their talk, but walk your walk.

Here’s the deal – we need to start translating design into business value. It’s not just about the aesthetics or user experience; it’s about ROI, market capture, customer retention, and all those snazzy business terms. So, next time you’re talking to the suits, frame your design in terms of their goals and watch their ears perk up. And for the love of all things pixelated, if you’re working with developers, please, get to know the basics of their world. You don’t need to become a coding wizard, but understanding their lingo? Game changer.

The Power of Precision: Communicating strategically.

Remember, every word counts in those high-stake business discussions. And no, I’m not just being dramatic. The way you present your ideas can make or break them. So, choose your words with intent. Be precise, be concise, and for heaven’s sake, be clear. There’s an art and science to this communication game. Know your audience, tailor your message, and most importantly, make sure it’s backed by substance. We’ve got to step up, be strategic, and make sure our brilliant designs aren’t just heard, but understood.

To sum it up, we aren’t just designers. We’re communicators, mediators, and translators. Let’s bridge those gaps, build those connections, and ensure our designs don’t just look dope but make a real impact.


I’ve thrown a lot at you, but if you’re still with me, it means you’re as passionate about pushing the boundaries of design as I am. And damn, that’s commendable.

Let’s face it: In the grand scheme of things, the world of design is in a bit of a… let’s call it a “funky phase.” On one side, we’ve got this rad explosion of creativity and innovation. But on the flip side, there’s this glaring gap between what we do as designers and how it fits into the bigger picture – the business, the strategy, the bottom line. And if you’re sitting there nodding your head, thinking, “Man, Geoffrey is spitting some truths,” then congrats! You’re on the right track.

But here’s the clincher. It’s not enough to just recognize the issues. Action, my friends, is where it’s at. So, what’s the game plan?

Redefine Design: We’re not just pixel pushers or color coordinators. Our work has weight, substance, and damn well deserves a seat at the big kids’ table. But to get there, we’ve got to break those barriers, expand our horizons, and evolve.

Get Real: All that fluff? Toss it. The world doesn’t need another shiny thing. What it needs are solutions, genuine designs that solve actual problems. Not just for aesthetics but for function, for humanity, for progress.

Talk the Talk: No more getting lost in translation. We’ve got to step up our communication game, bridge those gaps, and make sure we’re heard AND understood. That means understanding business goals and aligning our designs with them.

Never Stop Learning: The design world’s shifting, and if you’re not keeping up, you’re falling behind. Stay hungry, stay curious, and always be ready to adapt.

In essence, it’s about seeing design as more than just making things look good. It’s about purpose, value, and impact. It’s about recognizing the interplay between design and business and leveraging it for success.

So, here’s my challenge to you, you brilliant, creative beast: Go out there and show the world the power of design. Let’s cut through the crap, shift the narrative, and make waves in a world that so desperately needs it.

About the Author: Geoffrey Byers
Geoffrey is one of the world's foremost Designers. He is also a Serial Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, and Mad Scientist. Hypothesis-Driven experimentation is his love language.