Leader as Designer

Leader as Designer 150 150 Jason Lauritsen
Last week, I had the opportunity to hear Bruce Mau speak about design.  It was an opportunity to hear someone speak who is clearly much smarter than the rest of us and has turned his amazing brain towards both creating works of beauty and teaching people how to think differently.  

I am a novice student in the world of design, but am incredibly drawn to the power of great design.  By my interpretation, design is really about using our human, innate desire for things are that are simple and beautiful to accomplish change and progress.  I know that there is huge opportunity for design in both leadership and human resources within our organizations–more on that later.

Part of Mau’s work is some writing he called the “Incomplete Manifesto for Growth.”  As I read it, it sounded to me like a great blueprint for how to lead in this new, unruly world of work we find ourselves a part of today.  Check it out and decide for yourself. Below, I share a few snippets from the manifesto that I thought were particularly interesting.

Allow events to change you.
You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.

Process is more important than outcome.
When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there. 

Begin anywhere.
John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere. 

Everyone is a leader.
Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead. 

The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential. 

Don’t enter awards competitions.
Just don’t. It’s not good for you. 

Listen carefully.
Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same. 

When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else … but not words. 

Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms.
Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces — what Dr. Seuss calls “the waiting place.” Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference — the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals — but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations. 

Power to the people.
Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can’t be free agents if we’re not free.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.