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Redesigning Leadership

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  516 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Lessons for a new generation of leaders on teamwork, meetings, conversations, free food, social media, apologizing, and other topics.When designer and computer scientist John Maeda was tapped to be president of the celebrated Rhode Island School of Design in 2008, he had to learn how to be a leader quickly. He had to transform himself from a tenured professor--with a love ...more
Hardcover, 80 pages
Published April 25th 2011 by MIT Press
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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Sep 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My favorite quote from the book is :
"What you say, and whether you are expressing it clearly, is more important than how you choose to say it."
Dec 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing

This is a very ‘human’ story of John Maeda’s journey from MIT Professor to President of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Using a number of his historical tweets as the organizing structure Maeda shows how over the course of his tenure in his new position he went from, in his own words, operating his “own ‘organization of one’” as a tenured Professor at MIT to learning “how an organization of more-than-one is run” as President of one of the most prestigious design schools in the
Julia Kulgavchuk
Oct 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: design
The book is largely about Maeda's early time as a "suddenly" director of Rhode Island School of Design. It was definitely pleasant to read, and I'm very sympathetic to Maeda's personality after having read it. It has a good flow. What's left after the pleasant experience of reading has ended? Not much. ...more
Len Damico
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library
Only you, gentle reader, know whether you will enjoy an 80-page tome of someone explaining his pithy, cryptic tweets about leadership. I did not.
Andrei Savu
Aug 19, 2018 rated it liked it
A high level take on various aspects of leadership. Short book with few insights.
David M.
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Maeda is a bit odd. Perhaps that is exactly why I so like to read him. This book spoke beautifully on the complexities and challenges of leadership. It's recommended. ...more
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andres Moreira
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short & sweet book on leadership

John is a great communicator. The book is short and simple, it talks about leading in different ways from different perspectives as a human, as a professor and others.
There are great phrases and paragraphs to re read many times because they are not only accurate but also deep.

One that made me think and I love it was,
«Learning is said to be most potent when “cognitive dissonance” ocurrs. Said more simply, we learn best when we are wrong»

Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful little memoir about becoming the leader of a group that leads the world in design thinking.
The son of a Japanese master craftsman, Maeda tells a collection of little stories about meetings and emails and listening that come directly from his memory, his feeling guiding the unscientific process of drawing meaning from the chaos.
The book holds little strokes of clarity from a guy who had this massive responsibility thrust upon him and subsequently did his best, carrying his humility th
AKM Nivrito
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An honest account of one of the prominent names in design in the modern era. His unconventional career path takes a leap when he "accidentally" became the President of Rhode Island School of Design. His accounts on leadership tell a story of continuous growth and learning, and he expresses the wisdom which the experiences and the people in his life brought. It is a marvellous tale of a leader who is a creative, a technocrat, an academic, and foremost a human. A must-read for anyone who wants to ...more
Todd Blank
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
I found John to be condescending and impractical, and it felt more like a sales pitch to have more designers in leadership than how to effectively lead. It feels like his ideas are rooted in academia, and not actual business.
Bobbi Bjornholt
Jan 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure that this book is a gem for everyone, but I read this at a time where I could draw parallels to my own career and leadership struggles. I think Maeda validated some of my own leadership methods and pulled me through a case of imposter syndrome. ;) ...more
Mike Peleah
Feb 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: management, betterme
Short and nice book about leadership. John Maeda tells his story of 'sudden leadership' from different viewpoints--as a technologist, as a professor, as a human. This 3D view of leadership is really deep and revealing.

P.S. I got this book from the reading list by Seth Godin.
Feb 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Pretty good snippets. Written in a bit of a jarring manner that doesn’t flow great. Insights about leadership from his perspectives as a creative, a technologist, a professor and a human.
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fresh look into leadership.
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
A pretty book with a few useful tidbits, but I can't say I took away anything profound. ...more
Paola Valladares
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book.
Farhan Khalid
John and I have very different minds and ways of working. He draws to make sense of things. I take notes

Japanese Saying: Above up, there is something even higher above up

I realizes that I wasn't just missing a degree, I was missing a sense of simplicity

The word leadership is something of an anathema to creative folks as it invokes an image of authority and order over the chaos

Being prepared isn't a matter of how much you practice. It's about knowing that even if you fail, you won't give up

Work i
Peter Mello
Jan 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Artists as leaders is currently a hot topic and John Maeda, as president of the Rhode Island School of Design and formerly of MIT's Media Lab would seem to be well positioned to write about it. Maeda is probably better characterized as a designer and thought leader than a traditional artist.

I enjoyed the book but think it could have been much better if he more openly shared the challenges he faced at RISD soon after arriving. He gives us hints of what he dealt with; however, it would have been
Dec 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Simplicity leads, an academic trained to speak his mind (normally do/dont?), all artists yearn to struggle, stories trump statistics(truth?), green grows vs right rots, spending transparency, (do critical thinkers self-reflect), listen & debate what is real, diverse groups yield best solutions and homogenous less (academie), entitlement is farthest from enlightenment (tenure), Right people Rdecisions Rnow, change & uncertainty produce rumors and disarray(obama/fdr planners32-37), reveal key fact ...more
Karl Metivier
Nov 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business, career
Good little book about leadership. The content is based on the very personal experience of the author, John Maeda, as President of the Rhode Island School of Design. We see leadership in this book under the following themes:

- Creativity
- Technology
- Teaching
- Humanity

If you have read one of his previous book, Laws of Simplicity, you will find the same kind of writing with some touch of Japanese philosophy.
Uwe Hook
Jun 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Alex Devero
Aug 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
When you become a leader, don’t forget that you’re a still a human being too. So live by your ideals, connect with your employees in personal ways and communicate as clearly as you can. Keep your meetings on point and remember that respect isn’t guaranteed – it’s earned. Only a great leader can inspire a great team.
Alan Kercinik
Apr 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Less a guidebook, more of a journal, about the challenges of being a leader and the lessons along the way. Most leadership screeds, IMO, are about these kind of jargony-grand pronouncements that they all sound the same after a bit.

Maeda is willing to share just as many, if not more, stories of his failures and shortcomings as a leader. Interesting read from a fascinating mind.
Jun 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
A quick read, I found this to be an interesting and insightful look into leadership in the upper levels of academia and how it is changing with technology and digital culture. Many lessons carry over to other areas of work, though I found it to reinforce my ideas about leadership rather than introducing new ones. Still, interesting, and not a bad airplane book.
Jan 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Qucik weekend read. Not the most cohesive writing, but there are some insightful bits about being a leader. Worth flipping through.
Mike Villar
Nov 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Always been a fan of Maeda so I sort of expected more from this. A lot of the advice here is beautifully written and almost poetic but, overall, it's too abstract and oversimplified ...more
Nov 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Not really a fan. Don't think i took much out of it that i didn't already know. ...more
Feb 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Because I've seen him speak (where these stories/lessons come alive), I was disappointed with this book. ...more
Brittany Podolak
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book as much as I did Maeda's Laws of Simplicity. Practical examples of the power of simple leadership exercised daily. ...more
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Didn't Maeda get a No Confidence vote from faculty? 1 6 May 03, 2011 12:00AM  

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John Maeda [MY-ay-da] is a world-renowned artist, graphic designer, computer scientist and educator whose career reflects his philosophy of humanizing technology. For more than a decade, he has worked to integrate technology, education and the arts into a 21st-century synthesis of creativity and innovation.

Maeda's early work redefined the use of electronic media as a tool for expression by combini

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