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Partnerships & Practice

Partnerships & Practice

Each of the five organizational challenges calls out for the attributes designers bring to every strategic endeavor.

Designers and design leaders are agile, creative people who use partnerships (systems thinking skills and collaborations) and good design practice (effective working methods) to realize executive vision and facilitate an efficient process though the functions of the organization.

Leverage partnerships and practice to take responsibility and respond to today’s five urgent challenges.

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Bring in the right people with the right skills and elevate others to their full potential. Find and make allies in the organization.

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Take Responsibility:
Translate, Facilitate, Collaborate

  • Forge alliances and collaborate effectively.
  • Strive for collective accountability and collaboration from all members of the organization.
  • Convey value through tangible evidence.
  • Develop a shared language—and speak it.
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Take Responsibility:
Lead with Purpose

  • Insist on diversity.
  • Maximize the potential of designers within your organization.
  • Implement supportive training programs tailored to different career levels.


Understand how design works at the organization’s strategy level and identify how “good practice” works in that context.

2020 ID Report: Modern pattern.

Take Responsibility:
Think in Systems

  • Anticipate stakeholder interests.
  • Pay attention to timing and advocacy.
  • Promote humanity-centered design.
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Take Responsibility:
Achieve Speed

  • Prototype everything.
  • Embrace the qualitative strengths of design.
  • Promote design’s ability to identify ethical issues and biases before it’s too late.
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Take Responsibility:
Balance Quantitative and Qualitative Measures

  • Be data-informed, building trust through evidence.
  • Keep qualitative impacts in mind, with an eye toward human and financial outcomes.
  • Shift away from the notion of a singular metric and toward a context-specific evaluation of desired outcomes.

What’s Next: The 2026 Report

Taking Responsibility in the Age of AI and our 2020 report, Lead with Purpose, were the product of a vast system of partners interrogating the field of design to understand its current status and unearth opportunities for where design might lead next.

At the Institute of Design, we are always interrogating the state of design in the world, and in a range of organizations. Have a design question or need? Consider a partnership with ID.

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Peter Zapf

Director of Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives

Are you interested in understanding where design is heading next? Let’s think together.

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