It's a good article and has its points but the word "design" in his article is no more than the visual part of things. That's what's wrong about that article, design is not about how it looks and if he is so aware of how businesses are run and should be run he should know what design really is.
I personally think successful business men in these times need to understand what good design means, not talking about visual components of a product or how an object looks like, but how it works, how it creates a relationship with the consumer, that is design.
Steve Jobs understood that, Elon Musk understands that, Mark Zuckerberg understands that and so many other successful XXI business men.
He is not just talking visuals. The author cites "Design is not how it looks, design is how it works." in a Quora answer he wrote. On top of that he is (or was) a designer before leading his startup.
He is just not following through with the idea he put forth in his title and intro.
The idea as I understood it isn't that "design" is just the visual part of things, but rather that if you haven't figured out some real value to bring to the table, "how it works" is still window dressing.
In Designer Duds, the article to which this is a response, Mills Baker quotes an essay by Dave Morin of Path in which he says that to design a better bucket, we look to what's normal and identify problems. Baker follows this up by saying:
To be clear: what’s needed isn’t plastic-covered buckets (or red-covered Facebooks). What’s needed is plumbing.
On this point, I think this article and Designer Duds are in agreement. You can decide how it works, you can have the best UX, but ultimately if you're a designer building a better bucket when people want plumbing, then no, you don't deserve a "seat at the table". (Whatever that means).
Agree 100% with that. Same thing goes for any other business discipline. If you're doing something without the customer in mind well it's needless to say that your "solution" will probably hit the fan.
What he failed to point out in his article is a CDO is as important as a CTO or a CFO. A business only has to gain when you have someone who understands how to do things for your customers.
Lets look at companies in the 90's and their IT departments. People don't put up with crap and complicated interfaces, only if they really have no other choice (aka IRS submission) and medical interfaces.
And talking about all those product failures like Carousel from Dropbox or Paper from Facebook, well lets take a look at all the entrepreneurs and see all their failed business attempts.
What I want to say is, of course design is no magic pill to solve every business problem, but when a business considers design it has better chances of having a good product than one that doesn't consider it.
It is an entertaining read and there are some interesting ideas but I cannot understand why a designer would state that "Utility simply doesn’t come from design on its own." Utility doesn't come from finance on its own either but companies sure do have CFOs!
That is in no way an argument against designers having * a seat a the table*. Did I miss something here?
Basically when you sift through all his words (which are still definitely worth reading), he is saying a "stereotypical" designer doesn't deserve a seat at the table because their focus is simply design purity and because they live and breathe in this sphere, they are unable to rationally think about outside influences like marketing, customer data, sales, market trends, etc.
It's a interesting point, but I find that most, if not all, legitimate and successful "startup" designers aren't wired that myopically anyways.
He makes some valid observations but overall he really wanders and rambles on when it comes to the whole point of supporting the statement he makes in the title of his article/post.