Musings on designing experiences & (re)engineering complexity

Apr 2024

Designer’s Evolution

Spending more time contextualizing the tooling and behaviors other functional units are supposed to have mastery of than manipulating the time/space/components/etc which unlock human capacity.

Many times I’m fighting against this evolution because it means more of handling stubbornness and humility at the same time rather than learning, growing, or even reducing the load of information and systems that are being managed or modernized. Am seeing in regulated spaces - or in spaces where companies are transitioning from older mindsets to an agile and trauma informed ones - a manifesting of missing building blocks to those people who are craftspersons. For those who manage, am seeing a remarkable lack of creativity and boundaries. And for leaders, am seeing vision replaced with calculated risks, or a kind of conservative forward stepping.

Design engineering is popping up as a term that some are using to talk about the way developers and designers have to not only have an aesthetic sense of what’s going on, but also be capable architects of context. It’s actually not a bad thing in some spaces but it turns many of the tools and management structures on their head because now you truly do have people who are able to do “multiple jobs as one person” versus separating each functional task into a discrete unit.

For those who are not engineers, developers, or designers, they are being scrunched and pulled into a different type of widget maker. Either they learn the tooling around prompts and incantations in order to quickly transform known shards of information into storyboards. Or, they become those persons who are capable of not only finding a needle-in-the-haystack, but threading that needle to other haystacks which may not have been connected to or network before. And inability to do this type of connection and comprehension pushes these types of people not just out of the market but away from the vocation that is known as “professional work.“ This, too, is how design is evolving.

And so many people similar to myself who might have a generalist point of view or specializations across different verticals and horizontal specialties, find themselves not only doing the work of making old and new tools integrate with each other better. They are also doing the work of bridging old and new behaviors. They are speaking to functional units who do not know how to move out of their “spreadsheets.” While also speaking to cross functional units, who append to “@ mention” as the source of evidence - source of truth is given to agents to validate.

If we take a step backwards or step forward, or even a step higher than where we are now and look at things at the speed of humanity, we might find that everything is changing and nothing is changing all at the same time. We are evolving to a space where design and engineering are no longer unlocking human capacity, but the limits of it. Not exactly sure that’s the future that all of us desire, but without contemplation, it’s the one we are growing into.