Time and again, the two design partners from London impressively demonstrate what high-quality industrial design is all about, namely cleverly transposing changing ways of working and life situations to new products and usage concepts. Their goal is to move away from technoid aesthetics and turn the office into a more vibrant and an inspirational place.
We spoke to Tom Lloyd and Luke Pearson about the evolution from “New Working Environments” to “New Leadership Environments”. Read for yourself:
How would you describe the difference between management and leadership?
Luke Pearson: For me, leadership is more about creative guidance, and managing is perhaps more about logistics and the practicalities.
Tom Lloyd: For me, management is about the day to day running of a business. It follows routines, practices and policies; it is largely a reactive process.
Leadership is proactive. It is the ability to respond to a crisis, plan for the future, be entrepreneurial, inspire, look after your team, motivate. It is what makes a business succeed or fail.
What does ‘new leadership’ mean for you?
Luke Pearson: I think one of the differences in new leadership for me is a greater up-flow of information and ideas. This doesn’t diminish the need for leadership, but it makes the process more inclusive and therefore, in my opinion, more rigorous.
Tom Lloyd: There are two answers to this question.
In many ways, the needs of leaders have not changed at all for generations. Their days mix private concentrated work with different forms of interaction – with clients, peers and staff. They still need to have as much time and space as possible in which to plan the performance of their duties, manage their stress levels, think creatively, and look to the future. They still aspire to environments that are of the best quality.
At the same time, organisations are becoming less overtly hierarchical. The spatial provision of organisations is breaking down. The private office is slowly disappearing. Leaders are becoming more open, collaborative, and democratic. They are also getting younger.
Leaders still need to be looked after and cherished, they still need privacy, quality, and to manage stress and work overload.
How do you lead your team / company?
Luke Pearson: The process of running a design studio is complex. We have a very odd combination of process driven facts mixed with intuition. This can make the process feel quite confusing, but what’s vital is always to listen to other people’s opinions.
Tom Lloyd: PearsonLloyd is a small business of 15 – 20 people. On one hand we are quite intimate and informal in our practice, but we also need processes and procedures to get the best out of ourselves and our staff. We work hard, but hopefully enjoy that too. When we hire new team members, we are looking for people who are passionate and curious. We want to see people grow into PearsonLloyd, learn and develop, stretch themselves, and maximise their potential. We encourage learning, and understand that we are a team of many talents. Everyone should find space in the studio to maximise their skills.
What will leadership look like in the future?
Luke Pearson: I’d hope that it’s more and more intelligent and collaborative. However, the process of collaborative working won’t ever remove the need for good leaders to make great decisions. In my view collaboration is a facilitator for good decisions.
Tom Lloyd: The world is changing at ever faster rates; the world of work is too. Nothing seems to be static or stable. No one and no business is immune to that change. Future leaders will be those who respond to these changes. Leadership is now a multi-generational affair. Baby boomers (still at work) are now co-leading with millennials and soon Gen Z. All have such different skills, ambitions and outlooks to each other. What binds everyone together though is that above all business requires getting the most out of your people and being entrepreneurial in your outlook.
What are the challenges for leaders nowadays?
Luke Pearson: I think the speed of decision making has increased due to more frequent communication. Humans, I believe, still need reflection time to make intelligent choices.
Interview was originally published on Bene Office Magazine.