Over the past five years there has been a rise in the number of billion dollar start-up companies (often referred to as Unicorns – for example Uber is now valued at $51 billion and five years ago it was no where). What is interesting about these companies is that they are not run by accountants or engineers but designers and this is a completely new phenomenon. The reality today is that if you can design and create an amazing experience it is going to help improve your business.

Engineers think about functional stuff, – how can I make this work – Designers think about things from the emotional aspect of people, their quirks and idiosyncrasies. As Jenny Arden, a user experience designer at Google says, “at its best design is human, it is not about does it has dropshot or is it pretty, it is more about the connection I have to it.” 

We are living in transformational times that much is becoming apparent to people. The reality of this new world of work is that even the best companies in the world that have amazing systems, processes  and products; they are still vulnerable to disruption if they have not thought about design and experience.  Success now comes from designers who are on quests that look at how big of a human problem we are really solving.

The questions astute business leaders are asking today is not can we build it, because the answer with emerging technology is “yes we can build anything.” The question that needs to be asked is “what is the future we want to build together.” Quester leaders get this intuitively and that is the power of leader led design. 

Take Elon Musk and the launch of the Tesla 3 on the 31 March 2016, within the first five tesla-model-3_100551268_mdays preorders have already doubled the electric cars sold by GM, Toyota, Ford, BMW, or VW in past
5 years. To preorder customers have to pay non-refundable $1000, so this is committed demand, and it’s because everything about Tesla is build around designing and delighting the experience. And, Tesla is solving the big human problems of global warming and eliminating toxic exhaust emissions that kill people.

Jeff Immelt, the CEO of industrial giant GE, is not a designer but he is a leader who understands the importance of design and last year GE opened a huge design centre in Silicon Valley. Immelt believes that 10 or 20 years ago what differentiated great companies was efficiency. Today he says you can still be a good company if you are efficient but you will not be a dominant one.

We live in revolutionary times and designers are at the forefront of disruption. Watch the video trailer below called Design Disruptors: How Design Became the New Business Language and look out for the documentary. Inspiring and insightful stuff.


Option BAbout the Author: Dean van Leeuwen is an author, TEDx and international speaker who talks on 
leadership, future trends, strategy and competitive advantage
. He is a successful entrepreneur and a co-founder of TomorrowToday Global. His book Quest: Competitive Advantage and the Art of Leadership in the 21st Century, is available from Amazon in print and kindle.

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