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7 Questions on Leadership with Jod Kaftan

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

Name: Jod Kaftan

Title: Head of Product Design

Organisation: Oracle

Before coming to Oracle, I led the design and innovation practice for what is now called Accenture Song in the West Region across three design studios, launching new products and businesses, utilizing not only Product design but also service design and design thinking methodologies. In my previous life I’ve used human-centered design to bring new products, services, and brands to market, started innovation labs, but have also made an impact just improving the experiences of mature brands and products

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Jod's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

Getting some organizations to correlate Design to creating customer value and to look at design as an orchestrator, not just an implementer of customer value.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

Mainly to serve and help other teams claim their own internal power, to drive meaning into the work, and to find ways for people to bring their authentic selves and a sense of "play" to the practice to forge more creative, more courageous mindsets. And certainly, the goal has always been to bring meaningful products and services to market that help our planet and its citizens.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

Qi gong and meditation in the AM. Walking my dog to the dog park. After a long work day, I try to bring my whole self to being with my family and connect with those I love.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

Don't solve problems for people. Coach them to discover their own resources through iterative experiments, good listening and a mindset to embrace the unknown. Leaders need to work towards their own obsolescence by expanding the permission space for intelligent risk and a bias to see conflict as a signal for change and collaboration.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

Theory U by Otto Scharmer

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Listen not just with an open mind, but also with an open heart. Have self-awareness. Be decisive. Create pathways, but don't tell them how to get there. It's a long game. People don't work for you—it's you who work for them.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

A Sufi parable on "good, bad, who knows"

There was once a farmer who owned a horse and had a son.

One day, his horse ran away. The neighbors came to express their concern: "Oh, that's too bad. How are you going to work the fields now?" The farmer replied: "Good thing, Bad thing, Who knows?"

In a few days, his horse came back and brought another horse with her. Now, the neighbors were glad: "Oh, how lucky! Now you can do twice as much work as before! "The farmer replied: "Good thing, Bad thing, Who knows?"

The next day, the farmer's son fell off the new horse and broke his leg. The neighbors were concerned again: "Now that he is incapacitated, he can't help you around, that's too bad". The farmer replied: "Good thing, Bad thing, Who knows?"

Soon, the news came that a war broke out, and all the young men were required to join the army. The villagers were sad because they knew that many of the young men would not come back. The farmer's son could not be drafted because of his broken leg. His neighbors were envious: "How lucky! You get to keep your only son". The farmer replied: Good thing, Bad thing, Who knows?".

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