*Gerda Gemser, RMIT University, Australia
Giulia Calabretta, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands
Nermin Azabagic, IBM Interactive/ RMIT University
Rebecca Price, Delft University of Technology
*contact: gerda.gemser@rmit.edu.au

The role of design is changing: from one focused solely on strategy implementation to one focused on strategy formulation as well, actively shaping the organization’s direction and culture (Calabretta, Gemser and Karpen, 2016). Indicative of this development is the emergence of a new organizational position, that is, the Chief Design Officer (CDO) role, which entails direct involvement in C-suite decision making. However, we lack insight on effective design leadership. Initial research findings suggest that design leaders need a tailored approach, specific practices (‘ways of working’), and abilities to effectively embed design at a strategic level. For example, research suggests that design leaders may need a strategic decision-making style that carefully balances intuition and rationality (Calabretta et al., 2017). In addition, design leaders need effective tools to assess the current and future state of an organization’s design capability (Klitsie, Price, and Lille, 2018) and a well-crafted strategic roadmap to (further) build and scale this design capability (e.g., Quint, 2017). Furthermore, research suggests design leaders need strong empathetic skills to effectively integrate creative objectives with the business objectives of the organization (Azabagic et al., 2016; Yoo and Kim, 2015) and a tailored set of practices to motivate and award designers as the management of creatives is different from the management of non-creatives (e.g., Elsbach et al., 2015). In this track, we aim to uncover what approaches, practices and abilities can be particularly effective for design leaders. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
– How is management of creatives different from management of non-creatives and which theories or conceptual frameworks can explain these differences?
– Which practices should a design leader use to build and scale design capability in organizations in efficient and effective manner?
– In terms of practices, activities, and responsibilities, what distinguishes a chief design officer operating at the senior executive level from a design manager operating at the middle management level?
– How to effectively represent design when engaged in C-Suite decision making?
– How to align design and business objectives when engaged in strategic decision making?
– How can a design leader effectively cooperate with other executives representing related areas such as marketing and R&D?
– How does a design leader motivate and award his/her design team?
– How does design leadership differ depending on the organizational context (e.g., industry, company size, business model, design maturity of the company)?
– How can a design leader effectively balance contradicting demands such as being a change agent while also providing for stability?
– How can a design leader effectively communicate the strategic value of design to internal and external stakeholders?

Indicative Reference

Azabagic N. and Karpen, I. (2016). Making it count: Linking design and viability (Chapter 7) In: Calabretta, G., Gemser G., and Karpen I. (eds). 2016. Strategic design: Eight essential practices every strategic designer must master. BIS publishers, Amsterdam Netherlands, pp. 168–193.

Calabretta, G., Gemser G., and Karpen I. (eds). 2016. Strategic design: Eight essential practices every strategic designer must master. BIS Publishers, Amsterdam Netherlands.

Calabretta, G. Gemser G., and Wijnberg, N.M. 2017. The interplay between intuition and rationality in strategic decision making: A paradox perspective. Organization Studies, 38 (3-4), pp. 365–402. doi:10.1177/0170840616655483

Elsbach K.D, Brown-Saracino, B. and Flynn, F.J. 2015. Collaborating with Creative Peers, Harvard Business Review, October, pp. 118-121.

Klitsie, B., Price, R. and Lille, C., 2018. Using Dynamic Capabilities in an actionable tool as a vehicle to initiate design-driven innovation. Design Research Society: Catalyst. 2018, Limerick (UK), June
Quint, E., 2017, Q&A Eric Quint, Chief Design Officer 3M Company, Design Management Review, 28 (1), pp. 4–10

Yoo, Y. and Kim, K. 2015. How Samsung Became a Design Powerhouse, Harvard Business Review, September, 93(9), pp. 73–78.