Top resources for Design Leaders

Are you a design leader looking to take your team and organisation to the next level? Look no further! In this article, we've compiled a list of the top resources for design leaders.

From books and articles to blogs and podcasts, this list has everything you need to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices in design leadership. So whether you're just starting out as a design leader or you're an experienced pro, these resources will provide you with valuable insights and guidance to help you drive innovation and success within your team or organisation.

Get ready to power up your design leadership skills with these top resources:

5 books to make teams that gel

🟡 Creativity Inc

By Ed Catmull (one of the co-founders of Pixar Animation Studios).

The book explores how the company achieved its revolutionary success in animation, with its focus on the joy of storytelling, inventive plots and emotional authenticity. It also serves as a guide to building and sustaining a creative culture, with advice and examples from Pixar's own experience. Through this story, the reader learns what creativity really is and how to lead their employees to new heights.

🟡 The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups

By Daniel Coyle.

The Culture Code explores the strategies and techniques used by some of the most successful organisations in the world to create strong team cohesion. Coyle looks at verbal and physical cues, collaboration strategies, trust building and how to reform toxic cultures. This book combines science, insight and practical ideas to demonstrate how effective cooperation can lead to extraordinary achievements.

🟡 Org Design for Design Orgs

By Kristin Skinner and Peter Merholz.

This book is one of the favourite books of many design leaders. The book provides valuable insights and guidance on how to effectively design and manage an organisational structure for a design team or company. It can help you better understand the unique challenges and opportunities that come with leading a design team and provide you with practical strategies for building a successful and high-performing design organisation. In addition, the book offers valuable advice on how to create a strong and supportive culture within your design team, which can help foster collaboration, creativity, and innovation.

🟡 The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

By Patrick M. Lencioni.

In Patrick Lencioni’s book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, he tells the story of Kathryn Petersen, CEO of Decision Tech, and her struggle to unite a team that is in disarray. Lencioni outlines the five dysfunctions that cause teams, even the best ones, to struggle and provides a model and actionable steps to overcome these hurdles and build a cohesive, effective team.

🟡 Radical Candor: How to Get What You Want

By Kim Scott.

Radical Candor is a guide for managers, providing actionable advice to help build better relationships with employees. It emphasises the importance of making it personal, getting stuff done, and understanding why it matters, with the overall goal of helping employees develop their skills and boundaries of success. The book provides advice on how to be successful while retaining integrity and humanity and is the perfect handbook for those looking to find meaning in their job and create a work environment of love and motivation.

3 books to get ahead in the business world

🟡 Design Leadership: Securing the strategic value of design

By Raymond Turner.

Design Leadership is an essential guide for all those who influence how organisations work and how to use design as a business resource for competitive advantage and social benefit. It is of particular relevance to those with design management and leadership responsibilities, as well as those who aim to work in such roles. The book provides straightforward advice on how to make design work and become more effective more quickly.

🟡 Principles

By Ray Dalio.

Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates, the most successful hedge fund in history, shares the unconventional principles he has used to achieve success. These principles, which revolve around ‘radical truth’ and ‘radical transparency’, include tools such as ‘baseball cards’ to distil strengths and weaknesses and computerised decision-making systems. He believes anyone can apply these principles to their own life or organisation to achieve their goals.

🟡 No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention

By Erin Meyer & Reed Hastings.

Netflix is renowned for its revolutionary culture, which has enabled the company to rapidly transform from a DVD mail order service to a streaming superpower. In this book, Netflix Chairman and CEO Reed Hastings and Professor Erin Meyer from INSEAD Business School explore the unique leadership philosophy behind the company's success, which rejects accepted beliefs and offers a new way of running any organisation. It includes unorthodox policies such as unlimited holidays and the abolishment of financial approvals and provides insight into the creativity, productivity and innovation that the Netflix culture has enabled.

7 podcasts

🟡 Creative Capes (30 episodes)

Hosted by Ekaterina Solomeina.
Podcast series by Future London Academy, which interviews design leaders and innovators across the world. You can hear from Asana's Head of Creative Operations, the Founder of DixonBaxi, the Chief Design Officer at Huge Inc, and many more!

🟡 The Design of Business | The Business of Design (139 episodes)

Hosted by Jessica Helfand and Michael Bierut.
A podcast by Design Observer on how design works within complex organisations to shape decisions, products, and more. Guests include clients from many industries and designers in many fields. Interviews with fascinating people from a range of industries—from music and retail to journalism and technology—who are exploring their creative practices, inventing new ways of working, and helping shape a more inclusive world.

🟡 Design Mind Frogcast

A podcast by a global design and strategy consultancy, Frog. From industry leaders to design and strategy professionals and creative thinkers of all kinds, our guests are passionate about making change and solving problems that matter to people, business and society. You can get insights on behavioural change, venturing, Design Ops and more!

🟡 Design Better Podcast by Invision

Hosted by Aarron Walter, VP of Design Education at InVision and Eli Woolery, Director of Design Education at InVision.
DesignBetter.Co is brought to you by InVision. The podcast covers what it takes to be a product-driven company. Hear out from Inclusive Design Lead for Airbnb, CEO of Black Ambition, co-founder of DesignOps Assembly and others.

🟡 Masters of scale

Hosted by Reid Hoffman — LinkedIn cofounder and legendary Silicon Valley investor.
Award-winning business advice from Silicon Valley and beyond. Iconic CEOs, from Nike to Netflix, Starbucks to Slack, share the strategies that helped them grow from startups into global brands — and to weather crisis when it strikes. Get real-time wisdom from business leaders in fast-changing situations. Hosted by Bob Safian, past Editor-In-Chief of Fast Company, these episodes tackle crisis response, rebuilding, diversity & inclusion, leadership change and much more.

🟡 Creative Confidence

Hosted by IDEO U Executive Design Director Coe Leta Stafford and Founder Suzanne Gibbs.
The IDEO U Creative Confidence Podcast hosts candid conversations with some of today’s most inspiring change-makers, design thinkers, and creative minds. The podcast's guests share their approach to leadership, creativity, innovation, and growth. Get insight into their success through personal stories and real-world examples, and learn how to bring a human-centred approach to your own work.

🟡 The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish

Shane interviews people at the top of their game. Each episode includes valuable lessons on topics such as leadership, decision-making, hiring and firing, productivity, habits, and more. Previous guests include a wide range of influential figures such as Reid Hoffman, Esther Perel, Daniel Kahneman, and more. New episodes are released every second Tuesday.

Other Resources

🟡 Building design teams from the group up, The Designer Fund

The article covers the process of building a design team for an early-stage startup. It covers key elements of the hiring and interview process, including ideas for a performance-based hiring model, as well as tips for providing clarity, compensation, and closing the deal.
Check Designer Fund Articles for more in-depth insights on different topics like Career Guidance, Craft, Culture, Design Leadership, Tips for founders and articles about Women in Design.

🟡 Future London Academy Youtube Channel

Future London Academy is your one-stop destination for the latest and greatest design leadership and webinar content. They bring you interviews with top companies from around the world and in-depth discussions with the most influential minds in design. Whether you're a creative professional looking to level up your career, a student looking to explore the latest trends in design, or a business leader looking to stay ahead of the game, Future London Academy has something for everyone.

🟡 Diary of the CEO, Youtube channel

The Diary Of A CEO is a unique podcast that provides an unfiltered glimpse into the lives of some of the world's most influential people, experts and thinkers. Host Steven sits down with guests to discuss untold truths and unlearned lessons in an emotionally raw and honest setting.

🟡 McKinsey Design — Our Insights

Plenty of useful articles, tips and news about design from a global management consulting firm. Check their research studies on design and technologies, for example, "Tipping the scales in AI: How leaders capture exponential returns"

For more leadership insights, check our Executive Programme For Design Leaders.

Learn more 👉 Applications for the 2024 cohort are open.


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