Increasingly, the world's most innovative companies are being led by those with design experience. That's because great design isn't just about great-looking products: it's about solving problems and challenges in practical yet creative ways.
When you apply design thinking you're coming up with solutions developed with the end user in mind. Design thinking requires a deep understanding of people-centric problems and typically involves challenging assumptions and reframing problems to come up with novel solutions.
It's no surprise that design thinking has scaled up into design leadership. Because to successfully innovate in today's world you need to be able to bring together management and creative - rather than having them working in separate silos.
At StellaPop we've been proponents of both design thinking and design leadership since before either had a Wikipedia page. They're seamlessly integrated into everything we do.
What Makes a Great Design Leader?
The best design leaders artfully blend both creative and managerial expertise: they have a vision, they can oversee teams, and they're able to successfully execute on a plan. It's design management with a creative vision.
Here are some of the key traits of a great design leader:
- Design expertise. They're skilled, accomplished designers and can leverage this experience in helping drive their team in the right direction. Their design skills inspire their team to greater heights.
- Mentorship skills. They're able to coach their designers into improving every aspect of their craft - from the design itself through to the skills involved in design management and leadership.
- In it together. They're not just offering direction from above: they're part of the team.
- Feedback oriented. They deliver actionable, collaborative feedback, adapting their thoughts to the appropriate audience.
- Endlessly curious. As the world changes, so do the possible solutions. Great design leaders are always looking at things in new ways, and encourage others to do the same.
- They stay inspired. A great design leader inspires, guiding teams - and the wider organization - to deliver only the highest quality work.
How Design Leadership is Changing the Game
Design leaders pay their love of design forward. Inspired by the possibilities inherent in new connections, collaborations, and trends, design leaders are able to instill the same in their teams. They strengthen the culture of design thinking within their organization through vision and guidance. And they become stewards of ideas and design solutions, helping to drive uptake and buy-in.
The result is solutions that are adaptive, responsive and human - ones that both employees and customers can get behind. It's simple: if you want great design, you need a great design leader. But you also need a C-suite that is open to design leadership. Create an environment where design transformation efforts are valued and supported, and the results will speak for themselves. We know - we do it every day!
Have an opportunity that could benefit from innovative design thinking or creative leadership? Let's grab coffee!