The need for design leadership is huge and companies are investing a lot to give their design teams the organizational structures, processes and tools to deliver their best work. But both experienced and newly-appointed design leaders oftentimes struggle with identifying the right topics and initiatives to bring their design team and the design capability forward.

The Design Leadership Framework provides a clear overview of the relevant areas and aspects of design leadership in the context of digital product development. It supports design leaders to better understand and assess the current state of their design team and implement the right measures.

The Design Leadership Framework is based on research of literature and articles, feedback from the design community and a constant exchange with design leaders.

Overview

The overall task of leading a design team and building design capability can be divided into the following five areas. As the area of Strategy is influencing the activities and initiatives in the other four areas it is placed in the center. For each area the image shows a short summary of the leadership mission.

Overview of the areas of Design Leadership
The areas of design leadership (click to enlarge)

Aspects

The framework table below shows the relevant aspects that design leadership needs to take care of for each area. It is not prescribing any specific methodology. As we all know: methods, tools and trends change ever so often, but the underlying tasks and goals for design leaders are staying the same.

Table of the aspects of Design Leadership
Detailed aspects of each area of design leadership (click to enlarge)

What others say

I am constantly engaging with design leaders from around the world collecting feedback and insights. These are the most important things, that design leaders value about the framework:

  • The holistic overview of design leadership responsibilities 
  • A structured approach to analyzing and developing the design organization
  • A clear way to communicate about the design organization to other business functions
  • A basis for strategic planning and decision-making
  • An educating and inspiring deep dive into design leadership

“I could use it for planning and following our activities when building and improving design teams.”

“The way it is structured provides a systematic approach. I found some gaps in our current design strategy!”

„It’s a great tool for identifying what is part of the leadership job and what might be expected from me.”

Anonymized quotes of a survey among design leaders (2019)

What I offer

The Design Leadership Framework can be applied in organizations and teams in various ways. I am happy to support your team with these following approaches.

Design Leadership Trainings

Train your design leadership staff to understand the full picture of what design leadership encompasses to set up and run a successful design team. All levels and roles from Design Team Leads and DesignOps Managers to Design Directors and Head of Design will profit from this deep dive. In the training participants will receive in-depth information for each leadership aspect including recommended best practices, methods and tools.

Design Team Workshops

Where are you standing right now in your design team? Which areas of design leadership are already going well and which need more attention? In this one-day workshop with your design leadership staff and members of the design team, you will find out what are your blind spots and areas for improvement. I will share and discuss best practices and approaches for your situation and we will work on first ideas together.

Leadership Coaching

You are a design leader in an organization (no matter which level) and want to step up your game? I can help you with individual coaching sessions and mini-workshops, where we can take a closer look at your design team and what is needed from you in your current role. We can clarify your tasks, discuss current challenges and I can help you with an outside-view and expertise. Learn more

About me

Picture of the author - woman with long brown hair

My name is Katharina Koberdamm (formerly Weber) and I am researching on the Design Leadership Framework. I am a lecturer for Innovation Design Management as well as a Freelance Consultant for Experience Design and Design Leadership. I hold a degree in Business Administration. My mission is to bridge the gap between Business and Design to support a common understanding between these disciplines.

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Get in Touch

If you are interested in applying the Design Leadership Framework in your company or team I am looking forward to your message.