Jerry Kathman Reflects on the Legacy of his Friend, DMI President Michael Westcott

13 Oct 2014
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Jerry Kathman

Earlier this month, the design industry lost a champion and a visionary. I lost a good friend. His name was Michael Westcott.

I serve as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Design Management Institute. Mike used to call me boss. It was a private joke between the two of us, for he was clearly the leader. For those who don’t know, the DMI is a remarkable community of more than 30,000 peers from over 40 countries who enjoy a healthy exchange of creative ideas on the matters that impact the future of design and business. We publish a journal and host conferences and seminars on design thinking, design management, research and thought leadership throughout the year and all over the globe. Speakers at our conferences over the years have included Steve Jobs, Roger Martin, Daniel Pink and Tim Brown.


For the DMI, Michael was a visionary thinker and a champion of the power of design to drive value, enrich lives and tackle the most pressing social issues we face today. In a letter to the attendees at the DMI Conference in Boston earlier this month, Michael noted, “At the core of innovation and entrepreneurship is a desire to build something new and deliver in the form of a constantly evolving relationship with customers.” In his own words, without realizing it perhaps, Michael captured his legacy to the DMI—a vibrant community, building on all he envisioned. The Design Management Institute is a far-better place thanks to Michael’s leadership.

For me, I learned a lot of important things from Mike. His courage and optimism while he faced his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) was something I will draw upon for the rest of my life.

At the request of his family, the DMI has set up the Michael Westcott Design Education Fund to continue the work he championed so fiercely. Visit to donate to his fund.