My holiday wish is for you to have the rare privilege of collaborating meaningfully with at least one extraordinary designer during your lifetime. Achieving world peace, curing all disease, eliminating hunger and flipping the switch on global climate change are all up there too…I’m not a complete dink. But to literally feel the lift that great creative talent brings to a big challenge—or even a simple conversation—can be utterly amazing.

It’s been my rare privilege to feel that lift frequently during my career. And I plan to do all I can to enjoy more of the same well into my golden years.

When Stamats and The Thorburn Group joined forces earlier this year, it felt like Christmas came early. The already impressive and accomplished creative community with whom I’ve worked a Stamats was expanded. Synergy flourished. And the resulting rising tide began to pay immediate dividends for everyone involved within our newly morphed organization, and certainly for our clients in and out of higher education. It was—and continues to feel—electric around here.

Admittedly, at least some of my gushing may be due to the fact that regrettably, I’m not a designer (a reality pummeled at me all of my life from those who are). And if you hadn’t already noticed, my writing skills are passable at best. I do bang a piano keyboard from time to time, but the brutal truth is that I’m a left-brainish higher ed administrator-turned-consultant. Some will argue that my personal creativity bar is low, making the impact of extraordinary creative influence in my life seem extra high.

Be that as it may, my appreciation for great designers and writers only increases over time.

Today as I read this Fast Company piece about the five most-common mistakes designers make, an interesting revelation took shape. I casually replaced uses of the word “design” with the words “manage” or “lead.” I substituted “manager” or “leader” for every reference to “designer.” And with just a little imagination and some wordsmithing, the sage design counsel offered by the author has nearly perfect application and utility for managers and leaders.

It’s no surprise to anyone that great leadership and outstanding management is usually the result of an art and science blend. But if you as “manager” and you as “leader” start thinking of yourself as an “experience designer” for your colleagues and staff members, I’m betting you’ll get better at what you do—and more appreciated for how you do it.

Give it a shot; let me know how it works for you. And here’s urging you make time to enjoy a terrific holiday season!

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