Design Leadership Ignited
Elevating Design at Scale
Eric Quint, Gerda Gemser and Giulia Calabretta


Contents and Abstracts
1 Design Context
chapter abstract

This chapter describes the aim of the book and explains the research approach. It also introduces the Leadership for Design Excellence Model with its three phases (Establishing the Design Foundation; Empowering the Design; Elevating to Design Excellence) and its constituent building blocks (design leadership; design direction; design organization; design taxonomy; design resources; design scaling; design excellence). The chapter furthermore discusses the evolution and value of design and summarizes the structure of the book—a structure in which each chapter addresses a different building block of the Leadership for Design Excellence Model.

2 Design Leadership
chapter abstract

This chapter describes what executive design leadership entails in terms of the experiences, responsibilities, and competencies needed to successfully elevate design at scale within large, complex organizations. The chapter also provides for an example job description for a chief design officer and illustrates what the job entails by means of describing a typical week of an executive design leader. The chapter ends with key takeaways on how to navigate core dualities, including maintaining a balance between design and business priorities and goals.

3 Design Direction
chapter abstract

This chapter specifies how to set a direction for the design function by formulating a clear design vision, mission, and set of principles. The chapter also describes how to implement the design direction through a strategy, a roadmap, and an annual operational plan. Information is also provided on how executive design leaders can utilize the expertise of their teams to identify and refine the design direction components. Furthermore, the chapter introduces some guidelines on how to communicate the design direction and how to use performance metrics to monitor implementation progress. The chapter concludes with an overview of certain dualities that emerge as the contours of the design direction come into focus, and guidelines on how to deal with those.

4 Design Organization
chapter abstract

This chapter first elaborates on the activities needed to define a solid organizational framework for design (scoping, evaluating, exploring, contextualizing, and futureproofing). Then the chapter gives an overview of the benefits and detriments of different design sponsoring approaches; considers various ways of configuring lines of authority; describes potential workspace constellations, including their pros and cons; and provides an overview of tactics to implement the organizational framework for design effectively. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the core dualities inherent in design organization and ways to manage these in large, complex companies.

5 Design Taxonomy
chapter abstract

This chapter covers the core elements of a design taxonomy, and how to create one. The chapter identifies the activities that are central to creating a design taxonomy and then provides some guidelines for how to identify the scope of design. The chapter also clarifies key design roles and competencies that the design taxonomy might include, and explains how those competencies can be combined into a hierarchy of job levels and a career framework. After that, some variations of the chief design officer job title are explored. The conclusion presents some dualities that an executive design leader must manage when developing and deploying the design taxonomy and provides some guidelines on how to excel at creating a design taxonomy.

6 Design Resources
chapter abstract

This chapter elaborates on what design leaders can do to support design teams to grow and thrive in ways that contribute to organizational success. The activities are clustered into two core areas: effective talent management and the establishment of conditions that enable design to flourish. Talent management is discussed in terms of attracting and retaining design talent; effective performance evaluation; and recognition of design team achievements. Creating enabling conditions is described in terms of effective design outsourcing; cultivating a design culture; and management of design team resources. The chapter ends with an overview of core dualities that design leaders will encounter when engaged in attracting, developing, and maintaining design talent, and some key takeaways.

7 Design Scaling
chapter abstract

This chapter gives a description of the similarities, differences, and complementary elements of qualitative and quantitative scaling, followed by some core challenges that design leaders need to consider during their scaling efforts. The focus then shifts to how to generate internal demand for design, a fundamental requirement for scaling to take place. Then the chapter provides a three-step approach to fostering appreciation for the design function and its value-generating activities, with the end goal of establishing partnerships with stakeholders in the organization. The chapter ends by noting certain dualities that scaling presents and some concluding guidelines.

8 Design Excellence
chapter abstract

This chapter describes what design excellence actually entails for each of the building blocks discussed in the prior chapters. The chapter also summarizes the learnings with respect to the dualities encountered on the journey to design excellence. In addition, the chapter discusses a dynamic approach to design leadership according to the situation at hand and how to adjust during the journey towards design excellence at scale. The chapter ends with an overview of upcoming developments affecting design leadership and a reflection on how to maintain design excellence over time in the context of an ever-changing environment.