Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing conditions into preferred ones. – Herbert Simon, Nobel Laureate
If we take Simon’s description but simplify the language and tone, we end up with a new definition powerful enough to recast the way organizations think:
Design is change.
According to Simon, anyone who tries to improve a situation is a designer. You don’t need a Master of Fine Arts degree and 9 years of experience at a design studio to engage in designing.
You just need to find a situation worth improving and then work through the creative process.
And of course, ChurchWorld leaders don’t have any of those situations, do they?
Marty Neumeier, writing in The Designful Company, reminds us that leaders are designers, too, since leading is the act of moving people from an existing situation to an improved one.
According to Neumeier, while everyone uses design thinking in some situations, certain people are particularly suited to it. They tend to be:
- Empathetic – able to understand the motivations of individuals and form strong emotional bonds
- Intuitive – a shortcut for understanding situations. While the logical mind works through sequential steps, the intuitive mind is good for seeing the whole picture
- Imaginative – new ideas come from divergent thinking, not convergent thinking
- Idealistic – creative personalities are notorious for focusing on what’s wrong, what’s missing, or what they believe needs to change.
Designful leaders are energized by the ambiguity and uncertainty that comes with constant change. Designful leaders don’t accept the hand-me-down notion that cost cutting and innovation are mutually exclusive, or that short-term and long-term goals are irreconcilable. They reject the tyranny of “or” in favor of the genius of “and.”
When you look in your leadership mirror, do you see a designful leader?
inspired by and adapted from The Designful Company by Marty Neumeier