I have always been fascinated by the works and ideas of Tim Brown. His publications and thoughts on Design Thinking and Innovative Leadership always made me think about the projects I have been a part of or I have had the privilege of managing. During my past roles in design firms, the lead designer or the project manager would come up with a plan for the new incoming projects and the rest of the team would execute their vision. A senior designer or a project manager would always have at least one design idea on the spot (from experience, of course); ideas that were attractive, ergonomically correct and marketable. Needless to say, clients were always happy with the end product, which was a great motivator and a source of satisfaction for my team and I. What remains to yet be answered is whether we came up with an innovative idea? Will these designs be irrelevant in a few years?
Personalities such as Brown or Linda Hill, Management Professor in Harvard, have proven that designs without design thinking can very easily become obsolete and irrelevant in a short period of time. Considering that the idea of design thinking and leadership has been around for some time and researched to some extent, some companies and design firms are refusing to adopt these principles. Is this lack of knowledge and training? Is it because we have more designers rather than design leaders? Or is it due to our North American fast-paced capitalist mentality? A great company leader has once told Linda Hill that he hates reading leadership books because they make him feel bad; "In the first chapter, they say I'm supposed to create a vision. But if I'm trying to do something that's truly new, I have no answers. I don't know what direction we're going in and I'm not even sure I know how to figure out how to get there”. It takes a team of professionals and a leader with the ability to exploit opposing ideas and opposing constraints to create new solutions. Impactful classic designs come to life when the focus shifts from the design to more on design thinking.