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Redesigning Leadership (Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life) Hardcover – April 25, 2011

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Redesigning Leadership (Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life) + The Laws of Simplicity (Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Redesigning Leadership is a gem of a book, and like a genuine gem is compact, short, succinct and a pleasure to read.

(Mohsen Shahmanesh Design Talks)

It's short, beautifully designed and produced...There's none of the usual guff that afflicts the genre. Intead, clear crisp prose, a lot of common sense, and some points that were either new to me or worth reaffirming.

(The Enlightened Economist)

John Maeda adroitly separates and then blends perspectives on leadership -- macro and micro, personal and institutional, familial and cultural -- finding the connectivity among each. Whether you're a seasoned leader or just beginning to learn what leadership means, this book will help clarify what it means to you, to effectively lead others.

(Will Setliff, Vice President of Marketing, Target)

John Maeda is one of the most insightful thinkers on creativity and innovation in America. Plainspoken but playful, Redesigning Leadership offers Maeda's unique take on creative leadership.

(Roger Martin, Dean, Rotman School of Management)

John Maeda's roots as the son of an immigrant Japanese family, his visionary work in technology and design, and now his leadership of some of the most talented young people of this generation at RISD, give him a unique set of skills to lead. Redesigning Leadership is an important personal diary on the art, science and humanity of inspiration.

(John C. Jay, Global Executive Creative Director, Wieden + Kennedy)

No one but John Maeda can give us the secrets of simplicity and the power that comes through simply leading. This is a contemporary leader's handbook.

(Beth Comstock, Chief Marketing Officer, GE)

About the Author

An internationally recognized leader at the intersection of design and technology, John Maeda is Design Partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in Silicon Valley. He served until 2014 as the 16th President of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and before that was Associate Director of the MIT Media Lab. He is a designer, technologist, and catalyst behind the national movement to transform STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to STEAM with the addition of the arts. He is the author of Design by Numbers (1999), The Laws of Simplicity (2006) and Redesigning Leadership (2011), all published by The MIT Press.

Becky Bermont is Vice President of Media + Partners at RISD and has partnered with John Maeda, the current president, since his time at the Media Lab in efforts to bridge design, academia, and business.

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Product Details

  • Series: Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; F First Edition edition (April 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780262015882
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262015882
  • ASIN: 0262015889
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Gary on June 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book because it was reviewed in the publication Nature. It is a short book, at only 80 pages, and is ghost written with Becky Bermont. Those should have been warnings. The author, John Maeda, conveys some of his wisdom through tweets he has sent. I think he may have been trying to capture the same feeling in this book by keeping it short. However, I found little insight into the skills of leadership. Maeda was appointed president of the Rhode Island School of Design and uses this to discuss areas he's had problems with and how he resolved it. However, some of the insights, like "you'll come across people you don't agree with and still have to listen to them" (my paraphrase) just aren't that interesting. Likewise, some books shouldn't be written, and I think this may be one of them.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By monique18 on January 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I truly hate to say this, but I was not inspired, enlightened, or impressed at all. Hearing Jon Maeda speak made me curious about this book, but unfortunately his ramblings were not particularly insightful. It opens with a note from his (co-writer?)Becky who acknowledges his unorthodox method of creating the book - he attempted to design the book before writing it - and quite frankly, it shows. The gold edging is the nicest part about it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Silvio on October 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Too simple to be effective. A list of common sense recipies. I was waiting for more. Maeda is capable of doing better.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amy Whitaker on July 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
It's hard to write a book on leadership because it's one of those fields -- unlike accounting or finance -- that you have to learn from trial and error in the world, not from a book or a class. That said, John Maeda (along with his co-author Becky Bermont) has a gift for distilling observations, for upending conventional wisdom, and for pitching an insight in an unexpected way. He does that here in his observations of leadership.

From the outset, you come across this table of contents:

Start Here
Creative as Leader
Technologist as Leader
Professor as Leader
Human as Leader
Thank you
Acknowledgments

The middle chapters give a sense of how Maeda navigates the different hats of a leader -- the artist, the technologist, the teacher, and the person. He seems to see leadership as a practice, and one governed by the same kinds of 'how to live' questions as being a person. He chooses to learn from his colleagues, like his provost, to connect with people over free food not just technological platforms (even though the latter is his expertise and therefore an easy go-to), and to observe and course-correct where the impression he gives is different from his intentions.

This book is particularly insightful on what it means to be a leader in an academic institution where people are rewarded for the highly individual accomplishment and where a host of incentives make it hard to motivate people to see themselves as in service to a larger whole.

I've always genuinely thought Maeda is one of the few people in the world who has mastered Twitter as an art form. The whole book is full of tweet-worthy, succinct insights. If you are a habitual underliner, as I am, you will find your book marked up quickly.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With Redesigning Leadership, John Maeda throws open the doors of his own Presidential Suite to give us a stark and honest rendition of the shakedown of his now extended, though once somewhat accidental, tour of duty as RISD's leader. This book is a valuable read for anyone wrestling with how to be accepted as a leader, either in their own heads or among those whom they propose to lead.

Maeda's hyper-multifaceted life -- he adroitly straddles the worlds of engineering and design, technology and art, Japan and the U.S., family and career -- has engendered for him a rather orthogonal perspective on much that he sees, which, while affording him a healthy measure of a non-insider's independence and objectivity, has nonetheless cast him as a bit of an eternal outsider. He draws strength from this, with admirable perseverance.

At its best, Maeda's leadership saga reminds us, among many other important lessons, that a life without struggle and challenge is boring and uninteresting and stagnant. Those of us who've "made it" to a relative pinnacle in our comfy lives -- Maeda was a tenured MIT professor before RISD -- would all do well to take a page from his book, take a calculated risk, redesign our lives, and jump headlong into our next Act.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a nice contribution to the subject of leadership, which often glosses over the role of creativity and empathy (as informed and nurtured by art/design) in creating effective leaders. The book just scratches the surface on the subject, floating from idea to idea, but between the lines there's a lot of substance worth unpacking and exploring.
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