Wow. I can’t believe that I just resigned my post as president of DMI. I wanted this job so bad when I started over 5 years ago, and now I just willingly let it go. What changed? I changed. That’s maybe part of the challenge. While DMI is an amazing opportunity and has an amazing brand and market presence, working for a non-profit member-based organization that has been around since 1975 carries with it clear market expectations and traditional business models. But the world of business and the world of design are changing at light speed.
While I aspire to do more things, I have also come to grips with the idea that I want to do “less but better”. It started with a dinner with Dieter Rams five years ago in Boston, and then a dinner with Kenji Eckman four years ago in Taiwan. I discussed with both of these great design masters their belief in the philosophy of less but better. This really appeals to me, but it has taken me several years to absorb this notion on a deeper and personal level. At first I only thought if it in the context of design, and it made perfect sense to me. But the less but better philosophy is also a more sustainable and better design for personal living as well. Design and life are actually one in the same at times. I’ve enjoyed reading the work of architect Sarah Susanka in her writings in “The not so big life” and “The not so big house” series of books. Today this resonates with me in far more meaningful ways than traveling the globe, speaking at conferences, and helping to lead the call to action for design in business.
At the same time, I want to have more flexibility, and explore my own points of view independent of being a voice of DMI. I want to grow with the new world after the great recession with an open mind, an open agenda for change, and an open avenue to new business models. I still want to help designers become design managers, design managers become design leaders, and companies become more design driven, but in a more personal way.
To me it boiled down to a simple choice of two options; stay with DMI and continue to advance the agenda for design in business all over the world, which is actually great fun and extremely important. Or, leave my post as president, open a recruiting and consulting firm, and help only a small number of companies and people but to accomplish basically the same end objectives. Strictly for personal reasons, I chose the less but better route. I hope to make a greater impact with a smaller number of people.
I will always remain a strong industry advocate and DMI supporter. But I am no longer out to change the world and to create programs for design management globally. Rather, I hope to create more meaningful and lasting change within the small number of organizations and individuals that I work with. My goal is to help make the best of the new Seat At The Table for design and for design people. I think this will be very meaningful work.