Most people turning fifty tend not to dwell too much on their age. But if you ask Christian Bason, the CEO of DDC – Danish Design Center, he’s already close to 100. Not in the physical sense, but it’s almost impossible to have a conversation with Christian and not talk about the future. Our future sustainable society, future management, and future citizens.
In 2014, Christian Bason assumed the position of CEO at DDC with a mission to expand and challenge Danish design to include “design thinking” as a method to solve society’s biggest problems. Today, the focus is on design’s ability to create new solutions to climate change, digitization, and social areas of society.
It’s all possible
What might seem an impossibly wide span for others, is right op Christian Bason’s alley. People usually leave a room with him at least ten ideas richer and with the sense that nothing is impossible. Christian is known to quote designer Charles Eames, who in 1972 was asked: “What are the limits of design?” and answered: “What are the limits of problems?”
Christian’s ambitions reach much further than Denmark’s geographical borders. He is a sought-after lecturer and advisor for business leaders and governments. He has authored several Danish and international books on design, innovation, and management, as well as articles in outlets such as Harvard Business Review. This year, he published the book “Expand – Stretching the Future by Design” with designer and philosopher Jens Martin Skibsted, which once again challenges our perceptions of the future
Trust comes first
Among colleagues, Christian is described as highly ambitious, creative, curious, courageous, trusting, and well-organized. A man with a full mind and a heart filled with empathy for the people around him. In his prior role as head of the public innovation unit Mindlab, he put people over systems, appealing to and engaging the human senses through creativity, including design, and consistently developing new solutions with citizens at the center.
At a time when paternity leave was not yet an identity marker for the modern leader, Christian was not afraid to bring his human side to the office, taking three months of leave with each of his three children. In 2020, he introduced self-leadership at DDC with deputy director Sune Knudsen, putting his fundamental trust in people to the test. Actually, Christian considers this to be his wildest management experiment ever. Along with his colleagues, he developed a trust-based view of people that ultimately led to DDC becoming a self-leading organization without bosses, teams, and fixed tasks. “The world is changing. To make a positive contribution, you must also change yourself,” Christian and Sune stated in Mandag Morgen at the outset of the organizational transformation.
A blend of Silkeborg and New York
As for Christian’s private life, he is shaped by a childhood in Silkeborg, Jutland, with his Danish-American parents. Bason takes his surname from his American father, the renowned physicist Frank Bason. Throughout his life, he has been close to his American roots and traveled around the world with his parents. From an early age, Christian became fascinated by globalization and the new democratic currents in Europe. His interest in this field was further amplified by his Political Science-studies at Aarhus University in the early 90s, where he got an internship at the European Commission and worked with students from the newly liberated Baltic countries. Following that, he became a management consultant for Rambøll, and he completed a Ph.D. in design and management at CBS while he was head of MindLab.
Today, Christian Bason lives in Sorgenfri with his three children and his wife, Malene Bason, a partner in the sustainable investment fund Curo Capital. His physical health is maintained by running, skiing, tennis, and kayaking, and he loves taking his family on summer holidays to his second home, the USA.
About Christian Bason
Christian Bason, cand.scient.pol. and Ph.D., is the CEO of Danish Design Center. Previously, he was head of the public innovation unit Mindlab and business manager at Rambøll Management.
Christian has been chairman of the EU Commission’s expert group on public innovation and a European Design Leadership Board member. He has also been a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Futures Council. In addition, Christian teaches many top managers in the private and public sectors, such as Henley MBA, the European School of Administration, and Copenhagen Business School.
He is a sought-after lecturer, inspirational speaker, and advisor to business leaders and governments worldwide. Christian has authored several books on design, innovation, and management, the most recent being “Expand – Stretching the Future by Design” (2022).
He is a member of several boards, including the Royal Danish Academy, CfL, the Rockwool Foundation’s Intervention Unit, Novo Nordisk Biomedical Design, and the Danish Design Council. Christian is also a member of The Danish Management Society (VL group) VL42.
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