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Becoming a changemaker: 3 takeaways from 3 designers of change

08/17/2023

Becoming a changemaker: 3 takeaways from 3 designers of change

In an increasingly complicated environment filled with volatile dilemmas, how do we engender change? According to Maria Giudice and Christopher Ireland, authors of Changemakers: How Leaders Can Design Change in an Insanely Complex World, this requires leading with design.

In their invaluable book, Giudice and Ireland speak with changemakers across different disciplines to gain insight into the interplay between design and leadership. Here are three takeaways about creating change—each from one of the design world’s most influential leaders:

John Maeda, VP of Design and Artificial Intelligence at Microsoft, says to lead with clarity

“I’ve always tried to build a culture based on Kim Scott’s concept of radical candor. This doesn’t just mean being transparent. There’s transparency and then there’s clarity. I’m always driving toward clarity in roles and relationships and accountabilities.” Read more

Liz Ogbu, Founder + Principal of Studio O, argues that sometimes you may need to be the one who changes the system

“[Changemaking is] not accepting the status quo as the complete answer. My job is never to come in and say, ‘I’m going to do it the way it has always been done.’ I often come in with the premise that the way it has been done has not been good for everybody, and part of my mission is to make sure that everybody is done right by whatever we accomplish. So basically, that means that I’m often in a position of having to make change, and of having to adapt the system to achieve that goal.” Read more

Doug Powell, Former VP of Design at IBM, emphasizes that temporary setbacks are just that—temporary 

“It might slow a team down when they are initially adopting and developing the behaviors and practices. That middle manager who is so resistant early on is thinking ‘Oh my god, it’s going to take two months for my team to really figure out how to do this well.’ But then once everything’s in place, then you’re going to be on a glide path and you’re going to be flying.” Read more

Want to learn more about becoming a changemaker and leading with design? Dive into Changemakers: How Leaders Can Design Change in an Insanely Complex World, available in paperback and all common ebook formats. You can also listen to authors Maria Giudice and Christopher Ireland interviewed on The Rosenfeld Review podcast here.