Findings from IIT Institute of Design Define the Emerging Role of Design in Forward-Thinking Organizations

Capital One, Ford Motor Company, Google, Philips, Salesforce, and VMLY&R Partner with Illinois Tech to Lay Out Pathway to Organizational Success in Lead with Purpose Report


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CHICAGO – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – The Institute of Design (ID) at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) this week unveiled Lead with Purpose: Design’s Central Role in Realizing Executive Vision, a qualitative report defining design’s functional role in some of the world’s top organizations. Developed in partnership with Capital One, Ford Motor Company, Google, Philips, Salesforce, and VMLY&R after a year of extensive research, analysis, and synthesis, Lead with Purpose proposes the Intent-to-Effect Pathway, or how to move an organization from vision to action. IIT Institute of Design, along with its corporate partners, will exhibit the report at a South by Southwest® (SXSW®) panel session titled “Power of Design Leadership to Transform Business” on Sunday, March 15, 2020 from 11:00 a.m.–noon.

A critical benchmark for both design practitioners (professional associations, designers, design educators) and forward-looking organizations (particularly executive leaders and human resources managers), Lead with Purpose defines the future design roles that will emerge in organizations and provides guidance for scaling design operations and leveraging design for competitive advantage.

While other reports have established the value that design can offer an organization, Lead with Purpose has worked with leading industry partners to definitively answer how design can offer the most value.

“Nearly all professionals today recognize the burgeoning popularity of design thinking and generally accept that successful organizations—genuinely forward-looking ones—need design,” says Denis Weil, dean of IIT Institute of Design. “Yet most organizations have yet to make a place for design that engages its full power, not only at the initiative level but also at enterprise level.”

As organizations start to shift their attention from shareholders to stakeholders, design functions must also begin to transition. Until now, design (and designers) have been tasked with outward-facing responsibilities––making a product offering or experience serviceable to an audience or customer.

Lead with Purpose proposes that design principles and competencies go beyond traditional, external use. By focusing design internally, organizations can bridge the gap between vision and execution.

As one report respondent noted, “The connection of strategy to execution is where we fall down, and frankly a lot. There are huge gaps between all the strategy and thinking and then the ability for the organization to execute on it.”

Lead with Purpose was led by IIT Institute of Design adjunct faculty member Brianna Sylver-Galvao in conjunction with a spring 2019 graduate student research workshop. It is the product of over 50 one-on-one, 60-minute interviews with design and business practitioners from across the nation, and was made possible by the generous support of Capital One, Ford Motor Company, Google, Philips, Salesforce, and VMLY&R.

For more information about IIT Institute of Design and Lead with Purpose, please visit

For more information about “Power of Design Leadership to Transform Business” panel session at SXSW®, please visit