Rise of the DEO


I came across the term “DEO” when I visited the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco. There was a black and white coaster that caught my eye with this provocative term and its tagline “Rise of the DEO: Leadership by Design”. I grabbed a few of these freebies that I thought my co-workers would enjoy. After looking it up, I found out that it was a book by Maria Giudice and Christopher Ireland and that DEO means “Design Executive Officer”. I learned about the book’s authors and read through a free first chapter online, then I promptly bought a couple copies!  One for myself and the other to share, of course.

It’s been one of the best reads that I have had in a long time. The design of the book itself is beautiful. Great type set and graphic design, colorful infographs, and stimulating content that really spoke to me as a creative professional. As I read it, I marked it up with a bunch of post-it notes so that I could remember some of the most meaningful ideas.


Here they are in no particular order:

Be agile: Iterate and rapidly prototype to bring about better ideas. This is not only applicable in software dev, but also in creative publishing of any kind. Hence writing more blogs or drawing doodles, just to get the idea out there.  Be ok with “work in progress”. Once it’s out then you can sift out the crap.

Mentor: Either being a mentor or reaching out to a role model you admire is beneficial in so many ways. By sharing the wealth of knowledge, you may gain in collaborating with younger minds who are plugged in the latest trends and who aren’t tied down to old methods/processes. By connecting to experts, you can learn from their experiences and find lessons even in just shadowing them.

Play: Relaxation, daydreaming and laughter are legitimate ingredients to innovation. Make time to get out of the office to reconnect to the world. Start a game night with your team-mates. Lounge around and make your space more inviting and personal. This keeps you more engaged and at home. When you are relaxed, the ideas will come. “My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living.”  -Anais Nin

Be humble & generous: Having integrity and authenticity are not keywords to be bandied about. When you commit to something, fully commit. If you are true to your values and align with a company that is the same, the power is boundless. Humility helps give perspective – listen, care and give back. Being generous with your gratitude, praise, time and connections can foster important seeds and grow into more.

Are you a CEO or DEO?  Check out the diagram from the book and see.


Well that’s all I’ve got for now… maybe I’ll iterate another version of this blog post later on.


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