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Build Success Blog If you care about design . . . Image by João Jesus for Pexels

If you care about design, care about its leadership

Nov 19, 2022

It’s funny that when I talk about leadership people think I’m just referring to the way in which you bring people with you, and the systems and processes that sit behind a great design. But the truth is effective leadership and curating a worthy design outcome are inextricably linked.  

When the seed of a great design idea is planted, leadership begins. 

Even knowing with confidence that an idea is worth pursuing is the very essence of effective design leadership. Of course, I don’t mean slavishly following the initial seed of an idea through at any cost. Instead, I’m talking about setting off on a design journey where the paths aren’t fully laid out, and you can’t quite see all of the obstacles yet, but you are developing a picture of what it could be and building your team and the necessary systems and processes to support this.

Remaining curious about what’s possible for as long as possible. 

Promoting new ways of doing things and testing them, right now.

Searching for the best ideas, regardless of where they’re coming from.

Accepting challenges as a means to improve design rather than compromising it.

AND above all, advocating for the role of design in bringing the project vision to reality.  

I champion the role of design in achieving great built environment outcomes. Especially when you consider the responsibility we have to ensure the longevity and relevance of anything we build or retrofit and the future legacy this leaves for generations to come.  

Sometimes, when projects fall prey to political wrangling or require incredibly sensitive handling of key stakeholders, design leadership is challenged to its core. 

Trying to design for end-users that design teams don’t have direct access is hard.

Imagining all of the possible future scenarios that a building or urban realm may need to accommodate in the future is hard.

But, if teams care about the physical, social and environmental context in which their project sits, and then layer on the specific requirements of the client and key stakeholders, budgets and available resources you have the necessary design parameters to work within and push against. 

Navigating the best path is both a multitude of design and leadership decisions.

Both can influence each other.

You can’t have one without the other.




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