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Uplifting Design

My dream to scale Design impact

Today my homeland is celebrating independence from the country that I now call home. The beautiful tensions in this day are reflected in this pivotal moment in my career. After almost two years of elevating Design in the broken and messy world of healthcare, I'm ready to take on the next adventure. I have so much love and encouragement for the brave Designers at UnitedHealth Group, and know that they will continue to help people get, live and feel better by design with new levels of courage from all that we envisioned together.

I am also officially an empty-nester this summer, with three kids who are now out of the home, For the first time in my working life I have the opportunity to dream about my next role, company and geography from a place of personal passion and impact.

Just as I jumped into the usual process of exploring Chief Design Officer roles in the worlds of finance, retail and technology, I stumbled on this video of the only Fortune 500 CEO with a Design background. I was so energized hearing how Brian Chesky described the power (financially and culturally) that was unleashed at Airbnb from being truly Design-Led. My entire career has led to this moment of reflection, and I realized that I have so much to contribute to the conversation of how to elevate Design in the heart of the world of business, learning from my mistakes and building on my successes.

Last week I also had the privilege to guest lecture at the London School of Economics for the capstone week of a cohort of executive education students focusing on Social Impact and Behavioral Economics. A third of the class lined up after the Design lecture and incredible emails followed, blowing me away with how lacking, complementary and transformative Design can be to traditional practices in business education.

All of this led me to ask myself the folllowing questions: How can I have more impact than working with one company at a time? How can I scale the transformation of businesses to Design-Led companies?

The answers to these involve a book, executive master classes, and consulting. I will be taking this summer to write a book called Uplifting Design to share strategies, methods, case studies and tools to elevate human-centered design at the highest levels of business. The 12 chapters will form the basis for a dozen master classes aimed at empowering the next generation of Masters of Design students, or any leader who is ready to go beyond Design Thinking basics. I am foreseeing the power of teaching this curriculum at one the world's best Design universities (Royal College of Art, Parsons, Stanford, etc.).

After the book and master classes are complete, my intention is to amplify Design's impact by working with a small number of companies in 2024 who have a deep and genuine desire to mature their practice of modern human-centered Design. I'm looking to spend 10 weeks at each company throughout the year, partnering with CEOs and members of their leadership teams. We will audit their current state, develop a robust Design Strategy, and set up or mature their Chief Design Office. The next generation of CDOs need coaching and support, and there are few who have played this role in several of the Fortune 10.

This is simultaneously the most exciting and scary thing I can embark on in my career, as I imagine leaving the comfortable "client-side" world that has sheltered me since 2003 when I joined Microsoft. But I also know I can have more impact as an author, executive advisor, mentor and Designer/CEO. So if you know of any design-curious CEOs, members of their leadership teams, or inspired Design Master's department chairs send them my way to explore!