July 15-16, 2020 / Online

Leading Design + Content, Leading Change

Redefine who and what a “leader” looks like

Sara Wachter-Boettcher

The future is bright for us design and content people. UX writing has been hailed as a hot new job in tech. Content design roles are sprouting up way beyond 18F or the Canadian Digital Service. Forty of the top 100 companies have even hired a chief design officer in the past five years. Go, us!

And yet, we’ve got lots to worry about. Inequality is rising. Climate change is already affecting vulnerable communities. Big tech has enabled all kinds of surveillance and harassment. And politics? Well, you know.

So as our practices mature and our careers gain clout, it’s time to ask: what sorts of leaders do we want to be? We could stick to the status quo, working our way to corner offices and fancy titles (even when our companies are doing evil). But what if we instead applied the same skills that make us great at content and design—skills like clarity, empathy, collaboration, and facilitation—to making our organizations more humane, inclusive, and ethical? In this talk, we’ll explore how to do just that—and maybe even redefine who and what a “leader” looks like in the process.

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