designship tagline: the power of apprenticeship and design
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December 11, 2018

Four Mantras for the Up and Coming Design Leader

Now more than ever, designers and talent with different educational and technical backgrounds are rising to the top of organizations. Bringing new thinking, fresh approaches and overall enhanced value, these individuals are seen as vital contributors to their organizations. Casey Neistat (notorious YouTuber), Karlie Kloss (model and Project Runway judge) and Virgil Abloh (music producer and design sensation) are just a few of the many new design kids on the block–acquiring fame and prestige despite their unorthodox backgrounds, becoming leaders, while remaining hyper-focused on design.

Design leaders tend to share three qualities: (1) They are extreme strategic thinkers; (2) Easily envision the future; and (3) Naturally empathetic leaders (as they themselves have so valued their own mentors and leaders).

But with great power comes great responsibility along with a few beneficial mantras for the aspiring design leader:

Be Compliant with Company Policy

Perhaps negative sounding on the onset, leaders are unable to enact great change without first learning to navigate the structure (and perhaps confines) of their current organization. While some rules and protocols may need a revamp, respecting and honoring these procedures initially will better help the leader to ultimately suggest change.

Be Generous with Ideas and Praise

Everyone has been on the receiving end of a lack luster response to creative ideas shared during a brainstorm. Remembering this feeling empowers design leaders to embrace new ideas and provide praise and encouragement that supports and strengthens those around them.

Be Knowledgeable about the Competitive Landscape

Organizational leaders are looking for design leaders to be their lens into what is happening competitively in their industries from a design and innovations standpoint. Sharing this knowledge future elevates the individual as a valued leader.

Be Vocal about More than Just Design

Leaders have a knowledge that spans multiple practices in an organization. Demonstrating an understanding, appreciation and opinion about work outside of the design function shows cross-practice competency and, ultimately, leadership potential.

Designship, launched earlier this year as the first apprenticeship of its kind in the nation–specifically for design graduates–is made possible by the U.S. Department of Labor’s exclusive $3 million American Apprenticeship Initiative (AAI) grant awarded to MIAD. The program aims to empower America’s next great design leaders.

Developed by design industry experts, Designship provide customizable activities and training, helping emerging designers become professional apprentices in the following fields:

Communication (Graphic) Design

Interaction Design

Interior Architecture + Design

Product (Industrial) Design

Interested in learning more about design apprenticeships? Call 414.847.3219 and/or email for immediate information on how to establish Designship apprenticeships at your organization.