For all the love given to technology and its impact, a fatigue is brewing. Better specs are no longer the reason to buy, so the latest product is less now likely to wow us. But in his new role as a venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins, former RISD president John Maeda has been pondering: What can make us fall in love with tech again? His conclusion: “The new economic climb will be powered by great design.”
His new mission is work with both startups and “end-ups”to help best infuse design principles into its leadership and staff. To accomplish this, he urges leaders to elevate the importance of designers while overlooking failure as the worst outcome. Instead, he says, the losing result is staying stagnant. “An institution can gravitate backwards, and as every startup knows, that’s a problem. You have to move forward right now.”
John Maeda is Design Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, where he works KPCB’s entrepreneurs and portfolio companies to build design into their company cultures. He served as the 16th president of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) from 2008 through 2013, during which time RISD saw increased applications, fundraising, and career placements. Prior to RISD, Maeda spent 13 years at the MIT Media Lab as a professor and head of research. His career bridging the intersections of graphic design, computer science, art, education, and leadership earned him the distinction of being named one of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century by Esquire.
Maeda chairs the eBay Design Advisory Council, serves on the boards of the wireless hi-fi company Sonos and the advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy, and is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on New Models of Leadership. His books include The Laws of Simplicity; Creative Code; and Redesigning Leadership, which expands on his Twitter feed at @johnmaeda, one of TIME Magazine‘s 140 Best Twitter Feeds. He has received a variety of international awards for his creative work, including induction to the Art Director’s Club Hall of Fame and the White House’s National Design Award.