By che — Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5,

Selling Human-Centered Design to the C-Suite: A Poem

I decided to write some poetry to describe a common woe

The roots of which are often softened by leadership, though.

Business is running based on theories, and not based on fact -

And scientists, designers, researchers are now held back.

“Human-centered” is too frequently shadowed by sales.

And too rarely do strategies revolve ‘round client tales.

No, the voice of customers is *said* to be of great import

But designers say it fails to change outcomes of any sort.

Because, you see, design is seen as bonus, not as core

And dirty data cannot tell us what is all in store.

Alas, connecting transformation to our strategies

It technical, but human, too and sets us at unease.

Corraling all these disparate sources of truth fragments

Is common sense, but when was business based on common sense?

We’ve promises we’ll keep and goals we mustn’t fail to reach.

We’ve made our case to Wall Street and successes we will teach.

But what we don’t acknowledge is that human-centered choice

Revolving ‘round the customer and their important voice

Can outperform the market by dollars and by cents.

On average, outperforming by 228%.

This truth! This truth! It rings amidst the design-thinker set.

But getting leadership to make change has got them quite upset.

So what’s to do when companies think first of revenue?

So what’s to do when products take a product-centric view?

I would start with the numbers, proving that the concept’s sound.

I’d use “voice of the customer” to show what you have found.

I’d ask them about strategy to understand those themes.

I’d pull them into workshops with a cross-functional team.

The key here is to listen, and to ask, and then to act,

Collaborate, and ideate, and test, and circle back.

Half of the Fortune 500 will drop soon from that list.

The pivot towards good design is what likely they have missed.

In short, I advise executives to start their thoughts anew

To see their products all with a human-centered view.

Founder of zeet insights, an Austin-based market & design research firm; design thinker, diversity advocate, tech geek, proud mom.