California Management Review
California Management Review is a premier academic management journal published at UC Berkeley
by Gerda Gemser, Giulia Calabretta, and Eric Quint
Image Credit | Google Deepmind
Little is known about how design leaders foster design excellence “at scale” within large organizations. To bridge this gap, this article reports on interviews with 59 senior design leaders. Using a paradox perspective to frame the findings uncovers major challenges when leading design teams inside large organizations. It also identifies five pairs of opposing leadership behaviors that address these tensions and balance the overarching paradox of integrating design into the fabric of an organization while maintaining its distinctive character: being transformative yet affirmative; being directive yet accommodating; being proactive yet responsive; being intuitive yet systematic; and being holistic yet specific.