This is Part 3 of a 3-part series on why design is valuable:

Part 1: Why Design I: Design is in Demand

Part 2: Why Design II: Problem Solving in New Ways

Part 3: Why Design III: Your Growth Potential + Leadership (this article)

The benefits of studying design go beyond money, career growth, and learning.

When you first start studying design, you are typically focused on learning skills that allow you to visualize and prototype your ideas.

It is simply impossible for most designers to think of themselves as having a place in high councils of decision making. But that is where designers are most needed - at the top. It is a travesty that the only professionals close to the CEOs are lawyers and accountants. Designers have more to offer, because increasingly our organizations need to be design driven, not just market driven. To truly prosper, our global society must have its needs met, not just its wants. – Dr. Richard Farson (source)

When you commit to studying design, you’ll learn more than just the basics of visualization, because design is about a process. It’s the process of design, and not just the outcome, that teaches you to think, make, and lead. Designers Maria Guidice and Christopher Ireland write about the six traits of the new leaders who have design sensibilities in their book, Rise of the DEO: Leadership by Design. The six qualities are:

  • Change Agents – The courage to embrace and promote change as a competitive advantage

  • Socially Intelligent – A deep understanding of the needs of people and teams

  • Systems Thinkers – The ability to see systems as interconnected and making intentional choices about risk-taking

  • Intuitive – Relying on deep knowledge and sensibilities to make decisions

  • Risk Takers – Framing risk as a positive aspect of creativity and business

  • Get Sh*t Done – Always making thing happen.

Studying design can be the catalyst that helps you grow as a leader. Because design embraces doing new and innovative things, as you design you start to gain confidence going against the grain and creating a vision when there’s a new and uncertain way forward.

Have you ever thought about how learning design could impact your leadership skills before? Here are a few questions to get you reflecting and anticipating how design can improve your leadership skills:

  • Think about a time of uncertainty at work. Is ambiguity something you’re comfortable with? What could you do to lean into comfort in uncertainty?

  • Imagine a design your team has been working on has just been completely shot down during a critique with C-level leadership. What would you do first? How would you maintain motivation and buy-in on your team?

  • What would be your go-to method to get a team ideating?

The Growth Potential In Design

The growth potential in terms of your career is astronmical as we mentioned in Why Design I: Design is in Demand. There is a shortage in Silicon Valley and in many startup hubs around the world for talented designers:

The major causes mentioned are the following:

  • Design talent is valued more now than it was 5-10 years ago, especially the interaction and user experience design specializations.

  • Engineering has increased in agility, creating an upturn in the quantity of products requiring design talent.

  • Design is hard, and the expectations of designers now are much higher than they were in years past.

  • Design education is lacking in its ability to put out designers of quality that can meet the demands of our current industry.

  • Downturns in the 2000s left a shortage of mid-career designers.

If you wanted to switch careers, build your skills, build your leadership, and spark growth in your career, now is the time to do it.

Design demand is only growing and there is a shortage of talented designers in today's world. If you want to take your career and skills to the next level in design, check out the available Designlab courses many students are using to launch their design career.

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Meghan Lazier

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