“What does it take to be the leader of a design firm or group? We often assume they have all the answers, but in this rapidly evolving industry they’re forced to find their way like the rest of us. So how do good design leaders manage? If you lead a design group, or want to understand the people who do, this insightful book explores behind-the-scenes strategies and tactics from leaders of top design companies throughout North America.”
Our own leader Warren Wilansky was graciously quoted throughout.
“I guess you can force culture by doing certain things, but putting a foosball table in a room doesn’t create culture,” points out Warren Wilansky of Plank in Montreal. “Taking people to a restaurant doesn’t create culture. Culture is created by the people in the room at that time. If you have a room of people who are nonpolitical and have each other’s backs, that is going to be the company culture. And that’s the way we are.”
“Lead by example,” says Warren Wilansky, founder of Plank in Montreal. “That’s first and foremost the way I see it. In other words, I want my team to know that I am willing to do anything that they are doing. I am not above anything. I’m not above any task. I want them to feel that I’m with them and I’m just as willing to do it. And I think by doing that, people understand that leadership for me means not being separate from the team.” Wilansky goes on to explain that Plank has always been a really flat organization and that his CEO role might be considered a leader by default. “I happened to be there first. I have to be the one that’s the leader, but it doesn’t mean that I’m above or beyond doing wherever anybody else is doing on our team.”
On Running a Company:
“We’re 15 years into this business. The 5-year mark was when I realized it took 5 years to make it work,” says Warren Wilansky, founder of Plank. “So when we started the company, we had another founder. She left at about year four. When she was in the process of leaving, it became clear that up until then we were running the business like a hot potato. We were passing decisions back and forth, and neither of us was really owning anything.” As the leadership structure changed, Wilansky was forced to consider how the business was going to be run. “We both were communication graduates, and we figured we were just going to run a little company. We would just not work for somebody else and everything would just work itself out. And then when she left, I was suddenly holding the potato and I realized, okay, is this really a company? Am I going to try and run it like a company? When I got to that point and I realized that, that’s when I owned it.”
You can find the book here.