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Special Project

Special Project
From the 13th Annual Shorty Awards

Design Leadership Forum

Entered in Community or Employee Engagement


Over the years, we have seen design leaders solving similar problems at different companies. Leaders everywhere were establishing digital design teams, growing them, and maturing them. We know from many design leaders that this is a very lonely journey. So here at InVision we asked ourselves a question: how might we help? 

We had a simple hypothesis: if we curated the right group to discuss the practices behind design leadership, we could help alleviate the uncertainty that's so often paired with design leadership. And if we were successful in creating a community of design leaders to solve these challenges, we might be able to advance the entire field of design leadership and catalyze the growth of our industry. In February 2019 we launched The Design Leadership Forum. 

The Design Leadership Forum brings together industry veterans and rising stars who direct design at leading companies. The mission of the Design Leadership Forum is to advance the practice of design leadership by fostering a community where the world’s best can learn from one another. We strive to make the Forum inclusive and relevant to those confronting the challenges of leading design teams. This community is built for enterprise design leaders. There are 3,000 members from companies including Discovery Channel, Facebook, Hulu, Fandango, Oracle, Dropbox, IBM, SurveyMonkey, Google, The Walt Disney Company and many more.

Strategy and Execution

Our goal isn't to become the largest community in the world. But we do want to be the most valuable space for design leaders. Our commitment is to create top-line programming, content, and member experiences. From time to time we open up guests to attend certain events or to enjoy certain industry reports. The goal is for these public glimpses to help us attract new members who identify with the mission, and seek a community of peers who get what they are going through. All in all, everything we do revolves around wanting our members to: 

The Design Leadership Forum usually convenes at dinners, online events, a private slack community, a public LinkedIn group, community meetups, and at retreats that help members recharge while learning. Spending time together empowers us to connect and exchange ideas faster—and as a true community. Since the onset of the pandemic, the DLF continued to convene online in curated groups. Our mission is to scale out through a community-based approach and create chapters within the DLF. This ensures members are meeting with relevant people and getting what they need from the group. 

Beyond events and networking, the DLF provides monthly insights reports based on events, slack conversations, emails, and everything in between. We use InVision’s Freehand to lay out and synthesize these findings, like you would a research project, to see the patterns. These patterns then become reports that inform what the next month’s programming will be. These insights reports have proven themselves to be an invaluable part of the DLF community, appealing to different kinds of learners and making it easier for those who are unable to attend virtual events. The DLF connects people and creates spaces for them to come together and talk. However, if they cannot make it into the space, how do we ensure they are not missing crucial insight? Enter the insight reports, a key feature that makes our community more accessible. 


Since our inception, The Design Leadership Forum has held more than 150 events, now all virtual. These events provide members the opportunity to learn, connect, and much more. 

Our member engagement has not just been sustained, it's gone up. The DLF has 3000 members and engagement went up by 58% in 2020. More specifically, active members engaged 34% more since the onset of COVID19. The DLF continues to have excellent referral rates, rolling a 71 NPs. 94% of members are executives or directors, ensuring the right people are in the room. 

In light of COVID and its impact on the design industry, the DLF has become an invaluable resource for members. One DLF member Devin Henkel shares that “Membership in the InVision Design Leadership Forum has been the kick-start I needed to bring my A game to work. The community alone makes the Forum valuable to everyone involved, but the insight that the InVision team captures from, and shares with the group takes it to the next level. InVision engages the design leadership community and asks the questions behind the questions in order to get to the root of issues we face as designers and design leaders. The insight they gain from these conversations is shared back into the community, and it arms the community with knowledge it needs to take the next steps needed to advance the maturity of design within their organizations.” 


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