The MFA is the new MBA

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If you can’t think like a designer, hire one to lead your organization, urges Maria Giudice, CEO of Hot Design Studio, an experience design company and author of The Rise of the DEO: Building the Next Generation of Creative Leaders.

Design isn’t just an expense on a balance sheet. It’s an investment in the future.

Why is it that, in a survey of 1500 CEOs by IBM’s Institute for Business Value, creativity was identified as the most important leadership competency for the successful enterprise of the future, despite “creative” candidates often being overlooked as strong leaders? Stereotypes that suggest creatives cannot be effective leaders need to vanish.

Creative leaders are the catalyst for transformation and agents of cultural change. They relish thinking outside of the box over fear of ever leaving the box. They create things that are relevant and meaningful for people instead of selling the customer or closing the deal. They are systems thinkers with the intense desire and ability to solve complex problems vs solving problems incrementally one at a time. They espouse risk not fear it.


It takes courage and vulnerability to throw out wild ideas. Embrace it. Celebrate it.

Don’t just talk the talk. “Go wide and fail early” is a nice sentiment, but organizations need to walk the walk. A company wide culture encouraging radical solutions to complex problems will set the stage.

From producers of artifacts to champions of a connected society. There is a designer inside all of us. Design isn’t making things look pretty. That’s aesthetic masturbation.

How do Maria’s thoughts sit with you? Do you agree with her? Disagree? Would love to hear your opinion in the comments.