How to Use Strategic Design to Become an Awesome Leader and Make an Impact in Your World

Different chalk boards depicting different game strategies for football. Strategic Design at play!

I’ve always admired leaders who had a strong ability to bring everyone along. Without using power and manipulation to do so.

These kind of leaders tend to be a rare breed–what I would oxymoronically call “honest politicians” of their field of work.

Sometimes they were big names, who I had only encountered in biographies and historical studies. Other times they were lesser-known folks who I was fortunate enough to work alongside in various settings.

In all cases, these leaders were committed to cultivating democratic exchanges. Within their teams.  Between stakeholders.  Through their partnerships.

They were also great strategists, and I would usually walk away from a meeting with them feeling like I had learned a whole new conceptual vocabulary. Words like “positioning”, “timing”, “selling”, “signalling”, and so on, took on a whole new meaning to me.

What was the common thread between these diverse leaders?

  • They designed interactions, staged and staggered engagements according to tactical and strategic considerations.
  • They knew when to speed up and slow down, and when the conditions were ripe for decisive action.
  • They knew how to use their creativity and critical thinking skills to democratically engage others, respond to feedback, and reorient the action towards making something happen.
  • Most importantly, these folks were practiced agents of change, with a history of failures and successes under their belt.

They were all practicing strategic design.

So, in the 8th episode of the Working Together Podcast, I talk about strategic design and the art of creative group problem solving:

  • I walk you through four design approaches as sketched out by Ezio Manzini: big-ego design, post-it note design, co-design and strategic design.
  • And I give you some tips on how to enliven your work through co-design and strategic design–regardless of whether or not you are a designer!

All of this was covered in these previous blog posts (you can go to these posts for links and resources mentioned during the show too!):

Beyond Post-it Note Chic (part I)

2 Design Practices that Will Help You Stop Being a Worker Drone (part II, where I really dive deep on Strategic Design)

Credit where credit is due:

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