Alan Cooper writes in What’s the ROI of UX [emphasis mine]:
Return on investment is a manager’s term. Understanding it, tracking it, and increasing it are a manager’s job, not the practitioner’s. The designer’s job is to design, to make the product effective and desirable. It’s the manager’s job to make sure that money is made from its being desired. And yet, managers continue to ask the practitioners about ROI. When they ask, they aren’t seeking enlightenment. They are expressing their doubts. They are voicing their skepticism. They are building a case against the discipline.
And the practitioners take the bait every time.
Alan Cooper is a household name in the UX space, but I disagree with him that it’s not a designer’s job to think with a business mindset. The way I see it, a designer does their best work when they align the priorities of the business with those of the customers, and they can only do that if they think with a business mindset.
User-centered design should be a means, not an end. The end is building a sustainable business. What good is a great design if the company can’t sustain itself, has to shut down, and asks its customers to find alternatives? That’s the worst possible outcome for customers. The way you build a sustainable business is by aligning the business and the customer and building a longterm between the two. That’s where user-centered design comes in. You can’t get customers to keep coming back if you go with bad tactics for short term gain. Instead, you solve their problems and show them you care about them, hence user-centered design. But design should flow the business and what it does best, not the other way around.