“designers have an invisible language about what good design looks like based on a history and experience that they tend to privilege”
John Maeda: “In reality, design is not that important”

Good design does NOT equal pretty aesthetics in product design. Several times through the article he references design in this fashion. How a product looks can cover up and give an initial impression of a cool product. However, that is only one of many aspects of product design.

My perspective of design expects an integration of the business, technology and the user. Without all three aspects you cannot have good product design. Product design requires the roles of product manager, system architect and user experience designer working together to explore define the problem, aggregate the knowledge and explore the solution space.

In any one of these roles leaders can emerge. In any one of these roles the players can get lost in their own stuff and not be great leaders.

So why can’t you have a design led organization?

Because if you, like John describes, reduce design down to pretty then you are going to be a very one sided leader that will miss the interconnections.