blog from 2009 to mid-2015 by ยป John Maeda

In 2008, I left a tenured professorship at MIT to learn how to become a leader and operator at scale during the financial crisis of 2008-09. The latter wasn’t planned of course, so the transition was unexpectedly challenging by all accounts. Even my own. I had previously founded research groups at MIT, where I established a new field spanning art and technology, and worked with a variety of corporations advising their research and innovation teams, and I even earned an MBA as a side-hobby. But nothing I could have had under my belt, really, could have prepared me to run a 130-year old institution with a 9-figure operating budget amidst financial conditions that took a long, long time to settle down.

This blog was a place where I would “think out loud” in order to find a way forward through those turbulent times -- and it’s now pretty much frozen. I don’t intend to add to it much right now -- it’s a little archive that I’ve re-designed to be responsive to literally stay up with the mobile generation. Thanks for visiting these old, creaky thoughts from my formative period when learning how to swim about the world as a creative leader. I hope they are useful to you.

PS. I am blogging again at and

Top 14

2009 Characteristics of the Creative Leader  2010 Brennan’s Hierarchy of Imagination  2013 Dream Big, Execute Well  2012 Wanting Your Way Gets In The Way  2011 The Language of Art, via Paul Rand  2011 The True Joy in Life, via Matt Goldman  2011 Father as Leader  2012 Service-Minded and Hospitality-Minded  2012 My Four Rules  2013 Survive, Compete, Aspire  2011 Being the Answer, via George Clooney  2013 Hiroshi Ishii’s Vision  2013 Generosity as Doing, Not Thinking  2013 A Fifth Rule to Start a New Year  


1/19 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  1/15 Being A Steward  5/16 The Teacher’s Lunch Box  5/10 I Believe In You  2/8 Tapping In  


12/26 Classical Leadership  2/18 Creative Leaders in Silicon Valley  1/11 Putting People At Ease  1/11 Becky’s Message  8/10 Making Questions  5/27 Fondation Cartier 30  5/10 David Lynch and Me  6/15 Reflections On Father’s Day  6/10 Paying Attention To Your Team  6/8 Interviewing Sarah Lewis  3/7 An Organization’s Surface Area  4/4 Organization Design At Scale  10/4 A Story That Moved Me  


12/30 Design And Venture  8/24 In Memory of Red Burns  11/22 Fors and Againsts  11/18 Social Media  10/16 Not Running Your Own Meeting  3/28 Professor Herbert Simon  3/24 Dream Big, Execute Well  3/17 What Is Design  3/16 Is Working  6/30 With Joe Gebbia at DLD  6/9 Non-Game-y Games  6/7 Generosity as Doing, Not Thinking  4/5 On Humility  7/3 Survive, Compete, Aspire  2/2 Makers like to Make, Not Lead  9/28 Hiroshi Ishii’s Vision  9/2 Consumer Telepresence List  1/20 Design at Davos  1/1 A Fifth Rule to Start a New Year  


1/30 Creative Experimentation  1/28 Women x Power  1/28 Service-Minded and Hospitality-Minded  1/27 Good More Versus Bad More  1/24 Leading With Humility  1/20 The Upside of A Crazy Boss  10/30 Organization Design Links  10/24 Design, Tech, Leadership  10/21 Visualization Links  11/27 My Goto Leadership Quote  11/27 99U  11/23 Old Note To Self  11/21 My Four Rules  11/20 The Diagonal Mentor  2/18 On Lin-dership  6/12 Turning the Houseboat  9/11 Remembering Bill Moggridge  8/9 Bridging Divergence and Convergence  8/8 Your Ears Don’t Blink  8/1 Wanting Your Way Gets In The Way  12/16 Confidence Without Ego  12/9 FOMO  12/9 Riflemaker London  12/8 The Aesthetics of Leadership  12/5 Scale Discontinuities  


12/30 Your Team’s Plus-One  12/21 And Daddy Lost  12/17 The Art Party  12/11 Forgetting Why You/They’re There  8/30 Thinking Differently  10/30 Design at Gunpoint  10/8 Being the Answer, via George Clooney  4/23 Me And Martha  4/19 Don’t Be Small  4/16 Father as Leader  4/6 When Leaps Are Made  4/3 The Professor’s Assistant  2/20 Creatives and Leadership  2/17 Takeo Book Note  2/9 Charlie’s Wisdom  6/11 On Standing Up  6/6 The True Joy in Life, via Matt Goldman  7/6 Unhesitatingly Doing Right  5/6 The Language of Art, via Paul Rand  9/5 David Kelley Clip  9/2 Productively Fail  9/1 Prized Thinking  3/1 Questioning The Right Thing  


12/28 Uma And Her Cameras  12/28 Dining In Europe  12/18 Old vs New vs Good  12/18 Involved Note  12/5 The Two Briefs  12/1 To Blend Or Not to Blend  11/27 Brennan’s Hierarchy of Imagination  11/13 On Being Gifted The License To Fail  9/21 Connecting The Dots  2/16 Basic Managing  5/9 Keep Learning  1/4 Doing Right vs Being Right  1/1 Tony Hsieh Link  


12/31 Big Ideas Need Time  12/30 Office Hours With Jason  4/30 Creative (Student) Leaders  4/21 The Dirty MBA  4/20 Why Is Art Important?  4/4 HBR Blog  4/3 Web 2.0  4/1 Creative Leadership Slides 1.0  3/28 On Teamwork  3/25 Being Together Keeps Us Together  3/16 Characteristics of the Creative Leader  7/16 The Creative Leader  7/9 Creative Leadership x WEF  2/9 Eames House Beginnings  

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Copyright 2009 - 2016, John Maeda