I spent three fantastic days in London for Leading Design Conference last week. The speakers and workshops were superb, and I met some lovely folks. I arrived home with a pages of notes to sort through, here are a few of them:

On creating a successful working environment

A great studio is a place where:

  • Ideas and knowledge are shared
  • Everyone is pushing each other to be their best selves
  • You can draw on walls
  • People regardless of rolls can collaborate and contribute to great design

Make design and research insights visible. The more you share, the more people ask questions and care.

Inspire people with your workspace. Tell stories around your work space.


A design leader’s job is to design the design, whatever that takes in an organisation. It may be educating others in the organisation or hiring more designers or changing the workspace etc

As a leader, model the behaviour you wish to see. What effect are you having on others?

Leadership is the ability to clearly communicate a vision of the future others want to follow.


Our job is not just to design, but to design and sell the vision.

Be a ‘Worxtrovert’. You may not love to be an extrovert at work, but you have to be.

Take the time to take your design work and translate it for the business people, otherwise they won’t see the value in it.

You need to be insanely proactive in sharing what you do. People are busy and you can’t assume they will find what you’ve done.


Accountable = Influential

Be accountable. When something isn’t right:

  1. Acknowledge reality
  2. Own it
  3. Seek assistance
  4. Make it happen


Design like you’re right, test like you’re wrong. (Ie. Design with intent)

At each stage, ask about customer goals as well as business goals.

As designers we fall into the trap of trying to make big changes. Look at how you can make small improvements in the right direction.

Career development

For each role you have fill in:

  • Who/what it impacts:
  • Responsibility:
  • Effect I want:
  • What success looks like:
  • What happens if I don’t do this:

How do I think about the long term for myself and my team? Start small by considering the next 6 months.

Knowing your organisation

You need to be invested in knowing the business if you want to be a leader. Then you can have a seat at the table.

Understand how decisions are made in the company

What’s your organisation’s sense of purpose?

Build influence and trust.


Presenting the solution straight away can be disorientating to the stakeholder, like a slap in the face. Start by presenting the problem and let them absorb it. Plant the seed through several communication points.

When presenting to stakeholders, it’s unproductive to have the mindset ‘is it good?’. The decision maker is thinking ‘is it right for us?’ They assume it’s good as you’re the professional designer. That’s your job.

Bring design to life by telling stories through your prototypes.