• barry saundersbarry saunders, over 4 years ago

    Do you think so? A janitor in a hospital has an impact on the health of a patient but that doesn't make them a doctor.

    1 point
    • Adam WAdam W, over 4 years ago

      I do, and this is a good analogy for comparison. Let me try to unpack this a little bit.

      If you consider the “health of a patient” or “design of a product” the final outcome, then all contributing members are equally important because that specific final outcome is dependent on exactly those contributions. All contributing members are working towards that goal, directly or not.

      Operating under a certain set of skills or responsibilities does not exhaust what it means to be a designer (or a doctor, or a janitor, or a writer, or a manager). That is just one way a designer can be, one way of accessing that area of the process. So, if to create a product is to design it, and there are many ways to access that process and make meaningful contributions, then everyone who contributes in reaching that specific final product/outcome is a designer.

      Titles (such as designer in the previously-mentioned narrow sense) are only useful in labelling what kind of experience you have had, and coloring expectations for what you do on a daily basis.

      To your point though, acquiring the title of doctor requires a very specific and intensive educational and career path. Design, as a profession, is a lot more open and generally accessible, and there are lot more angles from which you can meaningfully contribute. But when you frame those titles as the outcome of their work, then it cracks open the definition, because the process has many dimensions and points of entry.

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      • barry saundersbarry saunders, over 4 years ago

        I can see your reasoning, but I don't fully agree.

        We use job titles to recognise what we do and what we are responsible for, not just the final outcome of the work. That fact all contributing members work towards the health of a patient defines the mission of the business, not the individual. A janitor's focus is cleaning, and they can do that in a business that creates patient health, or stock market trades, or entertainment, etc. Similarly a developer may have the core focus of building reusable, efficient code, a goal which may be counterposed to the goal of providing a good user experience. If I as a designer ask the developer and product owner for a feature that, say, adds more complexity to the code but solves for a particular user need, in that moment we're negotiating from our respective positions of expertise. We may all have the overall goal of providing a good product, but within that we have different goals such as user experience (design), code simplicity (developer) and ROI (PO).

        There are a lot of ways people can contribute to the creation of a product. But the core responsibility for user research, user testing, ideation and validation, the rendering of intent is that of the designer, and the designer is the person who can take that skillset to another business and do it there.

        The project manager may contribute to the quality of the product, but if they move to, say, an accounting firm, they can do project management, but not design.

        That said, yes design is a much more porous job than medicine, but it also has a century of history of study and theory and professional development, from ergonomics to ethnography to psychology and typography. I don't think it's useful to collapse that into a general focus on producing a product.

        You've got a point there about the collaborative nature of the role though to my mind the job of designer is researching, validating and facilitating all that collaborative input, not giving it.

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