Next generation leaders—DEOs

Next generation leaders—DEOs

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Image: Mckinsey & Company “The business value of design

Recently Maria Giudice and Christopher Ireland launched a new online continuing education class at Stanford for this summer (Summer 2021). “Leadership by Design: Using Design Thinking to Transform Companies and Careers“.

The business value of design is a topic that is at heart for many design leaders. In their book “Rise of the DEO” Maria Giudice and Christopher Ireland identified a new generation of leaders who combine analytic and creative, system thinking and embracing ambiguity. Traditionally, we see these traits are opposite. Analytical and system thinking are what we describe as business leaders; creativity and embracing ambiguity are what we mostly see in designers. The ability to combine these is what will shape future leaders.

Why is it important? Our environment is changing rapidly. Our business plan, roadmap rarely last an entire year. Constant adjustment is necessary. In our (design leaders) view, we can model our future leaders with the way design approaches problem-solving; with a human-centered focus. DEOs don’t necessarily be designers, and they are simply people who possess the mindsets that enable them to embrace fast-moving, unpredictability, and ambiguity. Many design frameworks, processes, practices, and tools can facilitate the growth of DEOs. Flip the coin; design leaders can naturally be the DEOs. The business frameworks will enrich designers’ business acumen, knowledge.

Modem development requires business leaders to embrace a design approach; modern development requires designers to adopt business knowledge.

In McKinsey’s “The business value of design” published in 2018, we’ve seen how Design Index scores outperformed industry-benchmark growth by as much as two to one. We’ve seen how top quartile design lead companies doubled the returns to shareholders. On the one hand, forward-thinking tech companies went out in droves to acquire design firms and drastically expand the in-house design practice; on the other hand, unfortunately, many tech companies still don’t see design as a strategic partner to product and engineering.

Changes will not happen overnight, and it will take time and effort. While individuals struggle within their own companies to articulate the business value of design, as an industry, people like Maria and Christopher educate a wider audience and reach out to more diverse disciplines that will bring the change incrementally.

We eagerly anticipate the new generation leaders — DEOs — design executive officers — a hybrid of strategic business executives and creative problem-solvers. We encourage individuals to develop skills to be the new generation leader— DEO.

More reading: Rise of the DEO on

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