If You Don’t Embrace Design as a CEO, You Risk Becoming a Dinosaur

From R to L Rosanne Somerson, Sam Yen, Maria Giudice, Christian Bason, and
                Moderator Norman Pearlstine of Brainstorm Design address delegates at the Brainstorm Design conference in Singapore on Mar. 8, 2018

From R to L Rosanne Somerson, Sam Yen, Maria Giudice, Christian Bason, and Moderator Norman Pearlstine of Brainstorm Design address delegates at the Brainstorm Design conference in Singapore on Mar. 8, 2018. Stefen Chow/Fortune

Leaders today are faced with a simple yet daunting choice: embrace design, and ensure their organizations will thrive in age of disruption, or resist change and become a dinosaur destined for extinction.

That was the message from a panel of designers, educators, researchers and executives at the Brainstorm Design conference in Singapore on Thursday, in a discussion on how leaders can incorporate design into their management, and how designers can influence, or become, the leaders that organizations need.

“There is a sense of urgency, even desperation, among chief executive officers that unless they can navigate disruption and change, they will no longer be relevant,’’ said Sam Yen, managing director of SAP Labs in Silicon Valley and the company’s chief design officer. A recent survey, he said, showed that “72% of global CEOs of large organizations feel that the next three years will be more critical to the future of their companies than the last 50 years. But only 5% of them feel they are ready to deal with that.”

“The notion of change is terrifying to most leaders of organizations. They see change as loss,’’ said Rosanne Somerson, president of the Rhode Island School of Design. But design, she added, “creates pathways” for people to help manage change.

While many policymakers have been promoting STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math), Somerson has been championing STEAM education, adding the ‘A’ of the arts to the mix. Combining art and design training alongside technology disciplines such as math and engineering creates designers who can have the greatest impact on world-changing innovations, she believes.

According to Christian Bason — CEO of the Danish Design Center and author of seven books on design, innovation and management — “Managers are either decision makers or future makers.” He sees managers who adopt a designing attitude as creators of meaningful change. They challenge assumptions, leverage empathy, navigate the unknowns, and insist on creating outcomes where everybody wins, he says.

The Danish Design Center recently surveyed 800 Danish companies and nearly 75 percent said that the use of design in their company has a positive impact on their bottom line.

Equally important, designers get things done, said Maria Guidance, co-author of The Rise of the DEO: Leadership by Design. Enlightened leaders, she said, are change makers, risk takers, and have emotional intelligence. “They are divergent in thinking, but at the end of the day they execute. These are qualities that designers possess. These are no longer design qualities but leadership qualities. And CEOs must possess them in the modern world,” Giudice said.

To get leaders to overcome their fear of radical change, Somerson said, it’s important to pilot new ideas, approaches and processes to show how they can work. And, all the panelists agreed, designers need to learn to speak the language of business and CEOs if they want to be heard and influential in the executive suite.

One of the most important and promising changes taking place is that designers are beginning to stake out such spaces. “CEOs need to become designers, and designers can move up in the business world,’’ said Guidice.

For more coverage of Brainstorm Design, click here.

Source: Fortune,  ROBERT HORN,10:52 PM EST


10 Must-Read Design Books To Get You Ready For 2018

[Cover Image: Foundation Capital]

The Way To Design, by Steve VassalloIn his book, entrepreneur and former Ideo design engineer Steve Vassallo outlines how designers can launch their own businesses and how startup founders can make design the foundation of their operation. One of his strategies? Move beyond empathy. The book is available as a free download here.

[Cover Image: Princeton Architectural Press]

Never Use Futura, by Douglas ThomasHelvetica might be the typeface everyone knows by name, but it’s Futura–and its myriad derivatives–that’s more storied and conspicuous. Douglas Thomas charts the typeface’s history, from its philosophical origins to its rip-offs, in this book, available on Amazon.

[Image: The Monacelli Press]

SuperDesign: Italian Radical Design, by Maria Cristina Didero et. al.2017 was filled with social unrest and designers lent their expertise to communicate the cultural pulse. In the 1960s and 1970s, Italian designers were doing the same by protesting fascism, consumerism, and inequality through art-led designSuperDesignavailable from the Monacelli Press, chronicles this movement.

[Image: Batsford]

Post-Modern Buildings In Britain, by Geraint Franklin and Elain HarwoodThe whimsical, irreverent, and often wacky architecture of the late 1970s and 1980s was a refreshing break from the rigid modernist buildings that preceded them. Now, they’re under threat of erasure as redevelopment plans put many of these structures in jeopardy. Reading about the movement, and how architects broke with the past, is apt for today. For more, visit pavilionbooks.com.

[Cover: Basic Books]

The New Urban Crisis, Richard FloridaThe title of urbanism theorist Richard Florida’s latest book–The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class and What We Can Do About It–outlines the defining tensions in our cities today. In earlier writing, Florida defined many of the progressive notions about how the creative class could drive social and economic progress, but these notions have fallen short. In this book, he reckons with the failings and promise of his theories, and suggests course corrections to help cities become more equitable.

[Image: Princeton Architectural Press]

Now You See It–And Other Essays In Design, by Michael BierutThe way a creative’s brain works is an enigmatic mix of impulse, process, and intuition. In his latest book, Pentagram partner Michael Bierut, one of the most respected designers and design writers of his generation, invites readers to peek into his mind. Through 50 essays that explain how he picks a typeface and how he created Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign logo, Bierut demystifies design. The book, available from Princeton Architectural Press, stands to teach other designers new strategies and design fans new appreciation for the craft.

[Image: courtesy MIT Press]

The Strip: Las Vegas And The Architecture of the American Dream, by Stefen AlThe cities and structures we build both reflect and shape culture. In The Strip, University of Pennsylvania professor Stefan Al argues that the most distinctly American city is Las Vegas and its evolution embodies the metamorphosis of the American dream. Truly understanding the state of the United States could begin by dissecting Vegas.

[Cover Image: courtesy Visual Editions]

A Universe Explodes, by Tea UglowThanks to the ever-rising value of Bitcoin, the blockchain–a secure technology that enables transactions–is becoming common parlance. This experimental e-book from Tea Uglow, a creative director at Google Creative Lab Sydney, explains how it works in an artful format. The blockchain will likely define even more innovations in the future and mastering its underpinnings will be important.

[Cover Images: Melville House]

Brolliology: A History of the Umbrella in Life and Literature, by Marion RankineWhen it rains, people whip out umbrellas, and they are more or less identical in function and construction. But within this helpful invention lies a hidden story about class warfare, bigotry, and urban design. The way our world looks and works today is a function of societal values, from the seemingly small moments, like umbrellas, to larger systems, like cities. By analyzing values through an object most of us use, Marion Rankine arms us with questions we should be asking about every other element of the designed world. Find the book on Amazon.

[Cover Image: Chronicle Books]

I Fought The Law, by Olivia LocherOur legal system is plagued with enormous injustices and is due for reform. And as photographer Olivia Locher documents in I Fought The Law, there are plenty of small obscure laws that deserve an overhaul, too. She researched little known laws in all 50 states and photographed people breaking them for her book. For example, it’s illegal in Kentucky and Georgia to have an ice cream cone in your back pocket, a holdover from a trick thieves in the 1800s used to steal horses. The book is a cheeky look at how out of date and out of touch our justice system can be.