From a young designer: “I am about to graduate with a degree in Human Computer Interaction and want to focus my job search on companies that value design. How can you tell if a company ‘gets’ design and will be a place where I can be successful?”
From a CEO: “How can I make my company attractive to designers so they will want to join? Why is the design for my products just OK and not awesome?”
Most designers naturally want to join a company where the design of the product is already strong, believing it reflects the value the company places on design and how well designers are set up to succeed. However, product / design quality is a lagging indicator of companies’ relationship to design and only tells you part of the story. It is equally important to consider leading indicators as well.
Lagging indicators are output-oriented, the results of efforts that were made in the past. They are backward-focused and trailing. Leading indicators, on the other hand, are precursors that help predict the direction something is going. In public companies, for example, lagging indicators of a company’s health might include net revenue, revenue growth, and return on net assets. Leading indicators might include customer satisfaction, growth in new markets, brand recognition, or number of new patents. Both kinds of metrics are important to consider when evaluating how well a company is doing and where it’s headed. Similarly, lagging and leading indicators for product and design can help guide what companies need from design and what CEOs can do to turn design around within their companies.
When it comes to assessing a company’s relationship to design, it really boils down to two things: (1) design team morale and (2) product quality.
Here at Flybase, we're big on product quality and team morale, not just design team morale, but this post was worth a share.