At a presentation I gave last year at the Design Leadership Summit, I began my talk with a bit of theater (you can see it at the outset of this video)—I stated a set of “Design Leadership Truisms,” inspired by Jenny Holzer’s work. I realized I haven’t published them, so, here they are:

DESIGNERS WERE MILLENNIALS BEFORE THERE WERE MILLENNIALS

PEOPLE ARE NOT THEIR JOB TITLES

TEAM MEMBERS ARE NOT “RESOURCES”

PEOPLE WORK BEST WHEN THEY CAN BE THEIR FULL SELVES

IF YOUR TEAM’S WORK ISN’T GOOD, YOU DIDN’T SET CLEAR EXPECTATIONS

BAD DESIGN IS A RESULT OF CONTEXT, NOT INDIVIDUAL APTITUDE

IF YOU FOCUS ON THE ORGANIZATION, QUALITY WILL TAKE CARE OF ITSELF

DESIGN QUALITY IS SUBJECTIVE

YOU CANNOT CALCULATE AN ROI FOR DESIGN

YOU WILL SPEND MORE TIME IN SPREADSHEETS THAN DESIGN TOOLS

OPENING A PRODUCTION DESIGN TOOL IS LIKELY A SIGN OF FAILURE

FRAMING THE PROBLEM IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN SOLVING THE PROBLEM

(DESIGN) LEADERSHIP IS MORE TALKING THAN DOING

YOU’LL DO A BETTER JOB IF YOU LIGHTEN UP

IF YOU HAVEN’T PISSED SOMEONE OFF, YOU’RE NOT DOING YOUR JOB RIGHT

FOR SOMEONE WHO TALKS A LOT ABOUT EMPATHY, YOU SHOW LITTLE FOR YOUR COLLEAGUES

NO ONE OUTSIDE YOUR TEAM UNDERSTANDS WHAT IT TAKES TO DO GOOD WORK

THE OUTCOMES ARE BETTER WHEN EVERYONE IS A DESIGNER

DESIGN IS INTERESTING BECAUSE IT IS DIFFERENT

AGILE TRANSFORMATIONS ARE HOSTILE TO GOOD DESIGN

INTROVERSION INHIBITS DESIGN’S ULTIMATE IMPACT

WHAT A DESIGN TEAM NEEDS MOST IS A CLEAR SENSE OF PURPOSE

A DESIGN TEAM WITHOUT A CHARTER IS A TEAM OVERWHELMED AND UNDERAPPRECIATED

MAKING AN EFFORT TO CONNECT TO ‘BUSINESS VALUE’ GOES A LONG WAY

YOU ARE ON THE FRONT LINE OF A GLOBAL WAR FOR TALENT

EVERYONE APPLYING FOR A ROLE HAS AN INFLATED TITLE

INTERVIEWS ARE A POOR WAY OF ASSESSING CANDIDATES

DESIGN EXERCISES ARE A BAD INTERVIEWING PRACTICE

YOU WILL NEVER HAVE ENOUGH DESIGNERS

YOU WILL NEVER HAVE ENOUGH TIME

THE SKILLS THAT GOT YOU HERE ARE NOT THE SKILLS THAT WILL CARRY YOU FORWARD

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