Rise of the DEO explores the intersection of creativity and business acumen, explaining how and why this unlikely coupling produces leaders most capable of solving our increasingly complex business problems. Written by two women with over 30 years of collective experience as creative business leaders, Rise of the DEO is a playbook designed to unlock creativity in a traditional executive or teach a creative professional how to become an effective business leader. The book lays out—graphically and through example—how DEOs run their companies and why this approach makes sense now.

A DEO, or Design Executive Officer, is a hybrid. Part strategic business executive and part creative problem solver, the DEO views an organization as a design project that requires both skill sets. They see themselves as catalysts for transformation; as agents of cultural change. With this perspective and these abilities, the DEO looks at business problems as design problems, solvable through the right mix of imagination and metrics.

Readers will learn not only why creative leadership is essential to the success of modern organizations, but also what characteristics are best suited to this role. Through intimate conversations with leading DEOs, we explore the mindsets, communities, processes and practices common to creative business leaders. We help readers identify these 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.

This book is a result of years of research initially captured in talks Maria Giudice gave at TEDx and the AIGA Pivot Conference in 2011. Maria’s TEDx Talk was featured on TED.com as the “pick of the week” from thousands of selections.

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Table of Contents


Change Agent
Risk Taker
Systems Thinker
Profile: Carl Bass
Socially Intelligent

Profile: Ayah Bdeir

Networks and Communities
Mentoring vs. Managing
Profile: Jesse Ziff Cool
Crafting Culture
Care and Feeding
Place Matters
Profile: Mark Dwight

Positive Passion
Problem Solving
Profile: Steve Gundrum
Permission to Fail
Playful Work
Iterate and Evolve
Profile: Chris Anderson

Profile: Emily Pilloton

Profile: Maria Giudice and Christopher Ireland


For aspiring executivesRise of the DEO is a roadmap that provides tools, tactics, and methods to move up the ladder.
Why you should buy it: Our book instantly creates actionable, implementable techniques that can be applied to a wide range of organizations.

For Founders and CEOs who want to hire great people and build organizations with multidisciplinary teams, Rise of the DEO offers a forward-looking approach that reflects the future of business organizations.
Why you should buy it: Our book focuses on innovative leaders who embody unique qualities that enabled them to succeed.

For creatives who want to use their skills to make meaningful impacts through design, Rise of the DEO is an inspiring toolkit that gives them the ability to change the perception of design value in business.
Why you should buy it: Our book demonstrates the power of creativity in large organizations.

For students who want to learn contemporary skills and understand the value of their skills for the future, Rise of the DEO is a platform that provides multiple touchpoints for learning collaboratively and building skills.
Why you should buy it: Our book uses real world stories from today’s DEOs to show the contexts in which creativity can be applied toward business leadership.

For educators that need contemporary, enjoyable, evidence-driven teaching material, Rise of the DEO is a playbook that provides engaging content distributable in multiple formats.
Why you should buy it: Our book focuses on building skills and qualities for future leaders.