Applying design thinking to leadership

There’s an interesting article in the NY Times on the subject of business schools acquiring a taste for design. Why? They discovered that many MBA students were trying to apply rigid, pre-planned strategies to today’s challenges, and they just weren’t working. What they need in times of discontinuous change is the ability to think critically and creatively… on their feet. The best thing design thinking offers for the changing world today is agile problem solving ability.

As I discussed in my last post, designers need restrictions. I think this principle applies directly to leadership. I would even go as far as saying that a great leader can’t lead well in abundance. Leaders thrive when things aren’t going as planned. When a leader is forced to deal with a Global Financial Crisis, he sees it as an opportunity for incredible creativity. This economy is a chance for innovation. The shift to postmodernism is a chance for innovation. The handover of leadership from the largest generation to one half its size is a chance for innovation.

No wonder Bill Hybels said last August that he gets an extra bounce in his step when he considers the unique challenges we’re facing right now! We as leaders get to design the future.

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