Chapter 9. Successful Interaction with Other Disciplines

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

AFRICAN PROVERB

In Chapter 2, we asserted that design can play a role in each stage of development from idea to final offering, and that it should be woven into every aspect of the service from marketing to product to customer support. The challenge is that most organizations are structured and run in a way that keeps design as a phase in a production chain, as opposed to an activity that permeates the business. Designers are typically hired or added to a team too far downstream in a product or service lifecycle, and funding models don’t take into account the need to hire designers who aren’t specifically aligned to a product or service. In fact, most enterprise funding models are structured to support individual lines of business, further siloing designers and discouraging cross-lines of business collaboration. In the past, designers subsumed their work to cater to how other disciplines operated. In order to be most effective, design must collaborate with other disciplines and needs to maintain its own identity and practice.

Cross-functional teams have become ubiquitous because companies must accelerate speed to market; it’s essential that leaders pay attention to the way these teams are set up and how well they work. Yet, in a 2015 Harvard Business Review article, Behnam Tabrizi shared that of 95 teams in 25 leading corporations, nearly 75% of cross-functional ...

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