strategic design & innovation

Design Leadership for a Sustainable Future

design insight human experience shared value & ecosystems

Across the world, as more and more people experience accelerating degradation of their natural environment, and negative impacts to the personal wellbeing, it is becoming evident to leaders that the way that we have approached the design of so many aspects of human life, from our energy production to our agricultural practices to the way we work, needs to change.

The global economy is encountering increasing levels of uncertainty and the global order, based on agreements, democracy, and individual freedom, seems under threat of imminent change to a yet undefined structure. Meanwhile scientific and technological advances, accelerated by next generation AI, are heralding a fourth industrial revolution; breakthroughs in genetics, biomedicine and healthcare; and a fundamental energy transition.

We are witnessing unprecedented times of disruption, and leaders more than ever need to be able to rise above the tyranny of the urgent and engage their teams to reimagine and redesign their business models for sustainability over the medium and long term.

Design leadership illuminates pathways to a sustainable future

Design leadership illuminates pathways to a sustainable future. The extraordinary complexity of our socio-technical systems in the connected, digital age calls for critical, holistic and systemic strategic thinking; the reframing of challenges as opportunities; and a systematic exploration of generating and exploring possible solutions. This is what designers are trained to do. The extraordinary challenges call for creative solutions, which are what design-led teams deliver.

  • As consumers we experience design through the products and services that we chose to purchase.
  • As citizens we experience design through our daily interaction with government policies and systems, from health to education.
  • As employees, we experience design through the ways of working, business processes and organisational policies that we interact with.

Our human experience can be delightful, memorable, worth telling others about, build the reputations of brands and cities and drive the growth and flourishing of businesses. Organisations that excel at strategic design, grow revenues and shareholder returns at nearly twice the rate of their industry peers. In the absence of strategic design, customer experience can be woeful, but unfortunately, still memorable, worth telling others about, damaging organisational reputations and results.

Right now, in anticipation of Sydney Design Week, we are privileged to have a leading global polymath of design, Bruce Mau, in our midst and sharing his wisdom at my alma mater. A powerful advocate for design as leadership, Bruce launched the Massive Change Network to work with leaders at the highest level to envision more equitable futures. He seeks to empower people with the design skills, and imbue them with a designer's natural optimism, to redesign the systems that shape our human experience, and accelerate sustainable change and positive impact at scale. 

Design, through its ability to imagine and visualize preferable futures, provides the inspiration and the leadership required to effect change. It has never been more critical to business, and the leading global strategy consultancies have all now built significant design practices in recognition that design drives the visible manifestation of strategy. The mission of the Massive Change Network is to bring the methods and power of design to the greatest number of people possible at the highest speed and lowest cost.  

To explore how the application of design methods can inspire and drive a sustainable future for your organisation, get in contact.

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