How do you see your leadership role? Are you a numbers person or a detail devil, a blue-sky thinker, an enabler or a controller? Depending on your answer, we may need to have a quick leadership refresh. In the meantime, let’s have a quick chat about the sort of leader you need to be if your organisation wants to drive growth & value.
In other words, are you capable of leading a design-centred, innovation-focused organisation?
“Design is more than a feeling: it is a CEO-level priority for growth and long-term performance.”
That’s the conclusion of the 2018 McKinsey Business Value of Design report.  A report that commented that it unambiguously proves “the companies with the best financial returns have combined design and business leadership through a bold, design-centric vision, clearly embedded in the deliberations of their top teams.” Unfortunately, the same report also revealed that less than 5% of companies thought their leaders could make objective design decisions.
Why is design important? Quite simply because there is a direct correlation between design principles and those required to deliver innovation. The principles I’m talking about are the core components of the design process, namely problem identification, solution creation and then implementation. These three components align to the Next Generation Organisation framework of intelligence, collaboration and adaptability, which I outlined in my book, Building a Culture of Innovation. 
But don’t just take my word for it. Writing in CIO in February 2020,  Sarah White called design thinking “An agile method for innovation.” Before that, in July 2019, Andy Campbell  highlighted design-led innovation as a “game changer for Scotland’s digital economy.” I could pick out more examples, but I think you get the essential message; organisations that want to drive innovation need to be design-centred organisations.
But organisations can only become so if leadership teams embrace the mindset required to lead a design-centred approach. I touched on one of these qualities, curiosity, in my recent article ‘leading with an innovation mindset’ and I make no apology for returning to this important theme again. If you’re not curious, how can you expect your people to be? How will they feel free to explore, to create, to develop if you lead through control over curiosity? And how can you help your people to be creative unless, as leaders, we also embrace creativity, empathy, and human centricity?
If organisations want to become innovative, it starts with leaders unleashing their curiosity so their people can unleash theirs. The outcomes are sustainable growth, value creation and high-performance, so isn’t it time curiosity arrived on the C-suite agenda?