Advice: Bisi Williams – How to foster massive change

  • Bisi Williams
  • How to foster massive change
  • Bisi Williams, co-founder of Massive Change Network with Bruce Mau, shares her expert advice on how to foster change through collaboration and leading by design.

Design is Leadership: Lead by Design

Design often falls into the ho-hum status of how things look and feel. It’s true, the world notices the sleekness of a smartphone. The coolness of a Tesla. The hipness of a font. But what happens instead when design is lifted a bit higher and seen as a way to save the world?

It sounds grandiose, if not far-fetched, because we tend to think of the planet’s salvation as every problem solved in one fell swoop. But the process of design is really applicable to any challenge, and its tools are available to everyone. So if we all design one thing at a time, one solution after another, we can begin to understand that we truly can design a better future—before it even happens.

To me, that’s inspiring. And at Massive Change Network, the global design consultancy I co-founded with Bruce Mau, this is our first principle. We believe that to succeed, design must inspire. It needs to gather people up in its beauty and bring them along in the embracing vision of a better world.

We believe that to succeed, design must inspire. It needs to gather people up in its beauty and bring them along in the embracing vision of a better world.

It’s an optimism that’s actually fact-based. Our work is grounded in extensive research and close collaboration, incorporating ideas and perspectives from all levels of our studio and our clients’ organizations. It brings a diversity of roles and skills to the table, and at that amazing intersection of disciplines, we look for inspiration. And always find it.

The notion of design is expanding. It’s no longer about how things appear, but how something works. Design (if we dare to confine its wonder to a single word) gives us a process to align who we are with what we do, on every level. And that tends to reveal our Superpower.

Yes, Superpower. Each one of us has one. We possess an inherent strength, a talent, an insight, a piece of the greater solution to make even the most evil thing more beautiful. We just need to know how to use it. We can make the invisible visible, and when we visualize the challenge, the unseen obstacle to a better future, we can begin to articulate it.

To design a good life? That’s magical.

Design sends a message. And today, everything communicates. How we do things expresses who we are. It is ever more important to articulate it, so that you can align that understanding at every level of an organization. When you do that, you assume a mantel of design leadership. And if we don’t do that, if we simply fail to design, we design for failure.

The internet launched an age of transparency. We can no longer hide behind a scripted front because anyone can access information that demonstrates who we are. And that’s a big change: the explosion of information. In minutes, we can see what’s already been done and what others have tried. And because of technology, we can combine our Superpowers and collaborate as never before, even as a team spread across the globe.

Design is a mindset that is available to all.

There is power in numbers. Two heads being better than one is an enlivened maxim in the 21st century. And with innovation as the new normal, change is accelerating. Not only for creatives, but everyone. Anyone can be a designer. We can all take up the tools of design. It’s a skill set, it’s an imperative, and it’s wonderfully democratic, too—design is a mindset that is available to all.

Look, it’s just how I feel. Design is change. And together, we can change the world with design.



Aiyemobisi “Bisi” Williams serves as Chief Insights Officer for Massive Change Network (MCN), the design consultancy she co-founded in 2010 with Bruce Mau. Bisi combines more than 20 years of communications experience and strategic design expertise with a deep focus on innovation at the intersection of disciplines. Her work informs a holistic approach to helping MCN clients create impact at scale and drive growth while making the world a better place for all. Under Bisi’s leadership, Massive Change Network has become a global leader in the field of enterprise design and is pushing the traditional boundaries of publishing and branding.

Williams frequently addresses groups on the power of design to drive positive economic, social and cultural change. Most recently, she spoke at “Future Unknown: Global Education Summit,” held at CAFA (Central Academy of Fine Arts) in Beijing, China; “What Design Can Do 2017,” a global design conference held in Amsterdam, and at “The Human Element Communications Consortium,” a conference hosted by Johnson & Johnson. She also spoke to students at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, where she has served as an academic advisor.

A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Williams graduated from Ryerson University with a degree in Journalism. Prior to the inception of Massive Change Network, Williams worked with media, arts and cultural organizations to develop programs and events at the intersection of popular culture, fine art and social transformation. In her adopted hometown of Chicago, Williams has been involved in shaping fundraising events at several major cultural institutions, including the The Shedd Aquarium, Ravinia Festival, and the Fashion Department of The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. She served on the Ravinia Women’s Board and with the Winnetka Public Schools Foundation.


Advice: Bisi Williams – How to foster massive change

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