The case for creatives in the boardroom

As part of #StartUpWoche Düsseldorf, London-based designer Hazel Macmillan headlined an event hosted at Wacom. Whilst I sadly didn’t walk away with one of their nice tablets (or that bicycle!), I did get some takeaways for the boards I advise, framed in a fresh way. 

2018 #StartUpWoche - Wacom Bicycle - Live Dare CreateBefore Hazel took the stage one of the Stefan Kirmse briefly talked about what is required for creativity – being:

  • Open
  • Sensing

And following-through… ideas on their own don’t do much if they’re not put into practice. Couldn’t agree more.

And whilst that might not seem like boardroom language to most, you’d be surprised. Dare to invite people to approach problems in a fresh way. In my experience, most people will. And if unsure how to go about it, bring in a professional facilitator to help (that also frees you up to solve the big problem at hand, rather than the problem of problem solving…).

Hazel then took us through a design journey, sharing anecdotes, insights (and beautiful imagery). What stuck with me though, was the sharp end of the advice. I’m paraphrasing from my notebook scribbles:

Whatever you do, you need a strong sense of:






And with that a solid product wrapped in a thought-through brand.

Then proceed like you mean it.

Look and feel matters, yet there’s more to design than that…

The case for the creative in the boardroom is that they can help you think through and understand how it all fits together, today – and for the future. How to extend, how to scale something (literally or figuratively) so it still holds together. Makes sense. Endures.

In other words, they can help you align intent and action; so it is right, looks right and does right.

And this is not random talk. Hazel teaches at the Royal College of Art for a reason – where she helps world-changing ventures get off the ground. But you’ll have to ask her about those. She’s got great stories to share.

Meanwhile, time for you to add an architect, designer or other creative to your boardroom?