1. We Are All Designers

Introducing the Freeman Design Leadership Council

{A Note to Readers: As promised, the amazing Bruce Mau, Freeman Chief Design Officer and tonight’s recipient of the prestigious Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum 2016 National Design Award for Design Mind, is back with me to talk about the big announcement he made last night.}

Bob:  Yesterday, speaking to members of the press, customers and other special guests, we announced that Bruce has reached out to a network of big-brain innovators, representing diverse areas of expertise, and is forming a Design Leadership Council.


This is great news for everyone in the extended Freeman family–including all of our employees, customers, and valued partners-because it will accelerate our efforts to create a culture of design thinking and innovation. Beyond that, it lets us do our best work, through which we help drive economic growth and prosperity… and we elevate the human experience. In this way, we are re-defining the brand experience category.

Bruce:  Buckminster Fuller once described the new designer as being “part artist, mechanic inventor, objective economist and evolutionary strategist.” We’d all like to hire that guy, but the truth is, no one person can deliver it all. In this 21st Century digital renaissance, the opportunities and challenges are too complex and too diverse. Sustainable solutions require knowledge that is extremely rich and esoteric—requiring deep mastery of many subjects. So, we knew we had to assemble a renaissance team, replicating the sixteenth century genius at the scale of the group, drawing such diverse talents as engineering, invention, design, communication, systems thinking, and storytelling into a collaborative process that will inform thinking throughout the enterprise.

Bob: This approach is aptly summed up in Bruce’s design principle, “new wicked problems demand new wicked teams.” It’s what drives the collaborative process we’re learning to use every day at Freeman. And it inspired the creation of the Freeman Design Leadership Council that we announced last night. We are beyond excited about the caliber of people who have joined us. Council members represent diverse, essential aspects of design innovation. They are artists and scientists, military historians and philosophers, imagineers and data geeks, production designers and corporate culture experts, entrepreneurs and stewards of industry-defining brands. (Read about them in the press release here.)

Bruce: What I find personally encouraging is that each of these innovators–visionaries who are already busy working on their own passions–were all eager to join our design council. Why? Because they appreciate the opportunity to exchange ideas with other big thinkers, and because they, too, understand the value of diverse thinking. They will advise Freeman regarding interesting developments in their own areas of expertise, and in turn, benefit from the thinking of others.  On a larger scale, they really value the brand experience channel; they see the opportunities that Freeman has to support brand experience on a global scale and effect massive change. These people want to be part of that.

Bob: And here’s where this council can really make a difference. Each council member has naturally cultivated relationships with other innovators who have deeper, more esoteric areas of expertise. The Design Leadership Council will in effect network these connections, as needed, to inform specific client opportunities and challenges. Collaboration with council members is as spontaneous and intense as the circumstances require. This adds incredible value to customers while responsibly managing cost.

Bruce: These are people who are in the habit of redefining boundaries. Who knows what could happen when we bring them together…

Bob: One thing is certain. As Freeman steps into its 90th Anniversary year, everything will be focused on the future – on finding new ways to support our customers. Anything is possible.

~ Bruce and Bob