Sep 14, 2020

Entering product design – Chapter 3: Misunderstanding of business

Before we talk about anything else, I think it’s essential to address the typical misunderstanding of business upfront. My goal of this writing is to share a perspective on why so-called business-centric happens in the company.

I’m fortunate enough to work in a mature UX company and an immature UX company. So I can see both worlds.

Generally speaking, product designers often complain the company is so business-centric in the low UX maturity company. All the projects started because the business team says so.

In that condition, product designer gets frustrated and often develop a certain level of hate toward business or business teams.

I once hated the word “business.” I thought product designer must focus on making the customer’s life better. The word human-centered also contributes to this misunderstanding, at least for me. It says: human-centered. So, aren’t we need to think just about humans, users, or customers?

Apparently, that’s not the case.

Human-centered practice is suggesting human first, not human only. You should observe and understand the customer to find the underlying problem, so you can build a product that is more likely for customer to use or buy your product. While still considering all other factors: viability for business, finance, and legal and feasibility for technology to build it within a constraint.

Human first. Not human only.

But, why a company end up being business-centric? I want to share my observation to help you understand why this happens.

Lack of a customer-centric mindset or perspective in the leadership. If no one on the leadership think about customer, then there will always be something else on top of mind: financial, technology, sales, and others. As a result, the exec will believe they know what’s best for their customer and your team will receive this random project to work on that you don’t even know why.

Lack of business acumen in the design practice. Suppose researchers can’t bring an actionable or relevant insight for the strategic discussion for the company. This can create some frustration for the business team and they will come up with some solutions.

Absent of design leadership. The absence of senior design lead with the fluency of business in the design team can cause this, resulting in a disconnection between the design strategy and the business strategy. In any of those conditions, you will need strong leadership to analyze the gap and make a strategy to move to a better state slowly.

If you’re wondering what to do in any of those situations. Honestly, it requires a whole new book to talk about this. But, my short answer is: First, engage with business team to understand their perspective. This is the hardest step but often rewarding. Then, think of what can your team do to bring customer in the process to validate their assumption as early and cheaply as possible.

I hope you can start to consider that business is not your enemy. Product designer should be sensitive about it. They are your team. You should help each other.





Sep 30

When was the last time you reflect?

Sep 29

Methods are tools

Sep 24

How can I get a bigger project?

Sep 23

Entering product design – Chapter 7: Craft and analysis

Sep 22

Entering product design – Chapter 6: Narrow collaborator

Sep 21

Entering product design – Chapter 5: Soloist product designers

Sep 17

Entering product design – Chapter 4: Product designer key skill areas

Sep 14

Entering product design – Chapter 3: Misunderstanding of business

Sep 11

Entering product design – Chapter 2: Principles over steps

Sep 10

Entering product design – Chapter 1: Silver bullet

Sep 10

Entering product design – Overview

Sep 04

SAR: A framework for concise storytelling

Aug 27

Start your design with outcome

Aug 24

New medium post: Collaboration ground for design systems

Aug 17

Action points

Aug 13

Pulse check: Listen to your team

Aug 11

You should actively apply for a new job

Aug 10

Design systems' area of influence: Service (3/3)

Aug 04

Design systems' area of influence: Offering (2/3)

Aug 03

Design systems' area of influence: Identity (1/3)

Aug 01

My mom ran me to the hospital

Jul 29

Reader question: Do we need to build MVP for every product?

Jul 27

Reader question: Do I need formal design education?

Jul 24

Recognize assumptions

Jul 21

Sandbox for your personal growth

Jul 20

Start your week with questions

Jul 17

Specificity in feedback

Jul 15

Don't sell the design. Sell the business impact

Jul 14

Overwhelming inspiration

Jul 13

The framing trap

Jul 10

Everyone vs. Specific

Jul 09

The blind horse designer

Jul 08

Set the context in your meeting

Jul 07

Let's just try and see what happens

Jul 06

Managing expectation

Jul 05

Low UX maturity company

Jun 17

A simple exercise for career reflection

May 31

The “Coach sheet” – A paper-based system for people management

May 26

Bring calm to your remote team

Feb 13

Workshops can be more efficient than meetings

Feb 07

3 questions designers should be asking

Feb 06

Walking 1on1: A refreshing way to connect


Nov 21

My hope for stubborn 'Innovators'

Jul 18

Five simple actions to help you gain more time

Apr 23

Evolving Product Experience Principles at Bukalapak

Mar 09

A framework to give better design feedback: Analyze, Discuss, Suggest

Jan 28

Making a decision is hard, here's my rule of thumb


Dec 04

Essential skills for Product Designers

Nov 16

Quick life update

Nov 06

Things I learned from working at Shopify

Oct 15

About design critique

Sep 17

Common icon design problems you should avoid

Sep 06

Preface: Welcome to