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Design Leadership by Richard Banfield

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Chapter 5. Planning for the Future

Introduction

Designers, and especially digital designers, are often creating work on the cutting edge of technology. This can be both exciting and frustrating. Getting a grip on which technologies will survive the market’s demands and which are just passing fads can feel like a daily investigation. As my 10-year-old son said when he was asked what career he wanted one day, “How can I know that? The things I’ll be working on haven’t even been invented yet.” We live in a time where things change so fast that even the not-too-distant future can seem ambiguous. Knowing how to plan for a future that is unclear can be a design leader’s most challenging strategic task. External forces aren’t the only thing leaders need to concern themselves with; their entire company is also looking to the leader to show the way forward.

Given the ambiguity of the future, the act of planning can seem daunting to many design leaders. Seasoned designer and leader, Jules Pieri, CEO of Grommet, puts planning into perspective when he says, “Today in this business, it isn’t as simple as, ‘Oh, this is my planning week’ or ‘This is a planning meeting.’ I have to step back at the beginning of every year and write what is called a CEO letter. I reflect on the top learnings from last year and the top goals of the coming year. That is probably the only formal time when I absolutely am thinking that way. But the rest of the year, it’s about connecting the outside world to the one ...

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