leadership | May 29, 2011

John Maeda Redesigns Leadership: Learn from Artists, Change the World

One of the world’s most respected innovation educators, John Maeda has learned many valuable lessons on leadership from his first few eventful years as president of The Rhode Island School of Design, one of the country’s most prestigious colleges of art and design. Those lessons—part of his process of designing “how to talk about/with/for the RISD community”—form the basis of his eagerly-anticipated new book, Redesigning Leadership.

In a recent preview, Leadership Now highlights Maeda's discovery that two words—“free pizza”—are a critical catalyst for convening and collaboration. People simply work better when a meal is worked in. The post goes on to reveal the top five lessons mined from Maeda’s latest tome. Maeda’s advice is powerful, but not overly complicated (after all, his last book was called Laws of Simplicity). He suggests leaders shift from finding ways to see the world to finding ways to change it. Artists—a group Maeda knows well—have a natural desire to rely on intuition, ignore constraints, and neutralize fear of failure, and Maeda advice is to emulate these traits. Next, he says you should find the shortest path of communication—a return to straight talk. Also, the focus on “self”, which has become so prevalent lately, needs to be shed and replaced with a team mindset. Finally, Maeda notes, every good manager should understand that positive and negative opinions will mix and cancel each other out like electrical charges—so don't force unquestioning like-mindedness.

Read more about creative economy expert, John Maeda