Rise of the DEO: Leadership by design

Cover picture Rise of the DEO.

This book puts leadership in the context, recognized within public governance challenges. The DEO – Design Executive Officer – as described by Giudice and Ireland has many connections with that of mayors, aldermen and city managers who constantly act on the edge of design and dynamics. Design can be considered as a core competence. This book is in this context a complete breath of fresh air and brings recognisable new perspectives on leadership. Public leaders could be inspired by this book.

“This book identifies and explores the qualities of a new breed of leaders. The book lays out–graphically and through example–how DEO’s run their companies and why this approach makes sense today. We help readers identify skills in themselves and their colleagues, and we guide them in using these skills to build, revive, or reinvent the next generation of great companies and organizations. Leaders who understand the transformative power of design and embrace its traits and tenets can command in times of change. We call these leaders DEO’s and they are our new heroes.”

– Maria Giudice and Christopher Ireland.

Giudice and Ireland bring forward six characteristics of a DEO, which are brought forward many times in books of leadership but in this book placed in a new surprising context. DEO’s are:

    • Change agents: not troubled by change.
    • Socially Intelligent: high social intelligence.
    • System thinkers: systems thinkers who understand the interconnectedness of their world.
    • Intuitive: highly intuitive, either by nature or through experience.
    • Risk takers: embrace risk as an inherent part of life and a key ingredient of creativity.
    • GSD: “gets shit done.” (i.e. they make things happen).

“Businesses and governments have discovered the power of a creative mind to effect change and produce value. Experts note that CEO’s who possess a design sensibility—or trust others who do—are best suited to thrive in a changing world. Yet not until Rise of the DEO has anyone captured the true potential of a design-oriented thinker at the highest level of an organization. Maria Giudice and Christopher Ireland have written a seminal work that will transform the role of the designer and the pace of innovation. This book is a must read.”

Richard Grefé, executive director of AIGA.

Listen to an interview (by Debbie Millman) with Maria Giudice or at Women talk design.


Giudice, M. and C. Ireland (2013) Rise of the DEO: Leadership by Design (Voices That Matter).