Beyond the long list of To-dos for the quarter, having an eye for researches on measuring impact is something that won't take you much time and can bring a handful of content about how users lives change with your work.
Designers can be ethical gatekeepers by being careful about launching something, making the important checklist of what should be considered as a decent (at least not bad) work. Doing this, we can take the position as the ones that won't let the company make shit, because that's why we are there after all.
You represent many people when you are designing.
The way of thinking that we practice in Western societies is a linear way, compared to the circular or systemic thinking more commonly found in Eastern cultures, or in more nature-connected cultures, as indigenous people around the world. In circular or systemic thinking, a motivation is not an end goal, but the continuous empowerment of self-sustaining life, enabling the realization of the diversity of events.
North American physicist David Bohm has confirmed we (as linear thinkers) have great difficulty in making connections, imagining other contexts, seeking relationships, and extrapolating the limits of present time and space. And worse: when it is not possible to display immediate visual correlations between the given phenomena, we usually convince ourselves that there are no relations to theorise about. This comes with the idea of wanting to separate what is theoretical from what is practical (operational), as if action were something independent of thought and vice versa.
Bohm called this traditional proposition of our knowledge-building culture “the disease of thought".
It is "sick" to consider this unilateral linear mode of thinking as the only way of guiding and maintaining systems of knowledge. This factor, when accelerated, sounds like colonialism, nazism, and supremacism (Unfortunately, they're still around).
The problem of linear thinking also had its influence on the Industrial Revolution of the 1800's, with the infinite exploration of the earth for materials and the consequences of waste production that we now face. We must not forget that this pattern of consuming and then letting "others" (some miracle) take care also happens on the immaterial level with human emotions. Desires (or lack of desires) being exploited and discarded, leave people susceptible to the next "exploratory products" dependent on the promise of being a new welcoming product, while miserably keeping the wheel of de-energizing consumption moving. It seems that we ended up designing mechanisms of slow suicide.
Systemic thinking must interconnect the parts, narrow the distance between them and allow thinking of the whole (system) without losing sight of all its participants. Therefore, when you make a design decision, you are responsible for life and humanity, the past and the future. This model admits, that in the articulation between the parts, new ideas and opportunities may arise, which would be impossible to visualize from the linear thinking.
It is nothing out of this world, as it is of course a matter of personal interest, if you look at things from the perspective that we are sharing the same system, that it is partly designed by us humans, and therefore that causing problems for others will affect you back. No wonder we care about the well being of those around us, because we know it can negatively affect us.
In accelerated digital times, it is very difficult to think that our actions are eternally recorded on the time of existence.
Despite the light this article placed on negativity, our work is a beautiful one. While we are designing, we sew societies and ways of life, connecting and projecting information in time into the infinity of the various events that will originate from it. This is the exact breathing point of responsibility.
A good exercise for designers is to think of their portfolio as something they are tattooing not only on their own skin, but also on the skin of all who are printing their work within themselves every day. A methodology to be added to UX thinking is the visualisation of Hazard Mapping, something Erika Hall (Mule Design) studied, and looks very presentable for managers, C-level, etc.