Let Design Lead

Leaders who understand the transformative power of design and embrace its traits and tenets can command in times of change. We call these leaders DEOs—Design Executive Officers—and they are our new heroes.

Six defining characteristics of a DEO:

Change Agents
DEOs aren’t troubled by change; in fact, they openly promote and encourage it. They understand traditional approaches, but are not dominated by them. As a result, they are comfortable disrupting the status quo if it stands in the way of their dream. They try to think and act differently than others. They recognize this ability as a competitive advantage.

Socially Intelligent
DEOs have high social intelligence. They instinctively connect with others and integrate them into well-defined and heavily accessed networks. They prefer spending time with employees, customers, and strangers rather than equipment, plants, or spreadsheets. “Everyday people” are a source of strength, renewal, and new ideas.

Systems Thinkers
Despite their desire to disrupt and take risks, DEOs are systems thinkers who understand the interconnectedness of their world. They know that each part of their organization overlaps and influences another. They know unseen connections surround what’s visible. This helps to give their disruptions intended, rather than chaotic, impact and makes their risk taking more conscious.

DEOs are highly intuitive, either by nature or through experience. They have the ability to feel what’s right, by using their intense perceptual and observational skills or through deep expertise. This doesn’t mean they have a fear of numbers. They know that intuitively enhanced decision making doesn’t preclude rational or logical analysis. They use both—and consider each valid and powerful.

Risk Takers
DEOs embrace risk as an inherent part of life and a key ingredient of creativity. Rather than avoiding or mitigating it, they seek greater ease and command of it as one of the levers they can control. They recast it as experimentation and invite collaborators. A failed risk still produces learning.

Finally, DEOs can be defined by a new set of initials: GSD—short for “gets shit done.” They feel an urgency to get personally involved, to understand details through their own interaction, and to lead by example. DEOs make things happen.

Rise of the DEO: Leadership by Design, identifies and explores the qualities of a new breed of leaders. The book lays out–graphically and through example–how DEOs run their companies and why this approach makes sense today. We help readers identify skills in themselves and their colleagues, and we guide them in using these skills to build, revive, or reinvent the next generation of great companies and organizations.

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Authors Maria Giudice and Christopher Ireland are successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Each built companies that had to attract top talent, keep up with continual change, and reinvent themselves annually. In addition to their business accomplishments, both authors have raised families, taught students, and maintained healthy social lives.

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The Power of Empathy: Few consider empathy a potent force. This ability—to experience the world as another person does—is often presented as one of those “nice to have” virtues, one with little relevance to your career because it’s difficult to quantify or score. We don’t go into a meeting and report on the five empathetic encounters we completed this week, and we don’t refer to someone as an awesome empath with a portfolio of emotional wins.

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