passing-batonCan you give up control?  I mean really, give it up?

Is it possible to truly let go of your power and influence and create ideas and solutions that result in what people really want?

If we ask business owners, organizational leaders and parents this question, how would they respond?  Would they know where to start?

The answer lies in the relationship between human-centered design and emotional intelligence.

Organizational leaders, business owners and parents, all come with a perceived notion of power and control.  Power is the possession of authority and control is the influence of the actions of others, often done by a person in power.  According to the article, “What is the difference between power and authority in an organization?” (, October 2015), “A prime source of power is the possession of knowledge.  A person with knowledge is oftentimes able to use that knowledge to directly or indirectly influence the actions of others.”

Yet knowledge can be attained through a variety of ways.  Certainly, education and learning increase knowledge.  However so does lived experience, trial and error, producing knowledge that is real-world and practical.

When you think about all industry, whether retail, service, human service, manufacturing and family, does it not make sense to create solutions based on what people desire?  Wouldn’t this approach improve sales, motivation, engagement and satisfaction?

With human-centered design, or design thinking, products, service or support is created based on observed, human need. Solutions and creations come from an understanding people’s actions, thoughts and emotions. Design methodology involves empathy and a genuine desire to create possibilities that result in real outcomes.  It is about engaging the voice of those around you and continually learning and reorganizing based on to what they say is important.  Human centered design makes space and time for difficult conversations and allows delegate voices to discuss concerns and opportunities, equalizing power among all involved.

This is where emotional intelligence comes into play.  Recognizing that it may be challenging for those in a leadership position to relinquish control, emotional intelligence, or the ability to empathize and maintain perspective of the end goal, can strengthen the ability to truly design and create solutions based on the greater good.

An intriguing definition of power states that “power means that you have nothing to prove, and nothing to hide.”  According to this belief, there is a balance between ego and humility, or the restraint to act based on self-importance and instead, operate on what is important to those you employ and serve.

According to IDEO, a global design company committed to creating positive impact, “human-centered design unleashing your creativity, putting the people you serve at the center of your design process to come up with new answers to difficult problems.”

Can you give up control?

The answer is “yes”, by using a human-centered design approach and by strengthening your emotional intelligence, leading with grace and humility.

Think of the delight your consumers, children and employees would feel if you said, “You asked and we listened and based on that, this is what we have created.”

~ Lisa