Magic, by definition, cannot be explained. It’s a sequence of events that, even when followed with a close eye, still leaves audiences mystified and mesmerized.
Now, when we think of magic, we think of dark theatres, capes, and rabbits in oversized top hats. But the truth is, magic can be found nearly everywhere. Any time there is a staggering gap between what’s expected and what’s delivered – a gap so wide that it can’t be explained – you’re experiencing magic. That smart device in your pocket or your purse? You know, the one that holds more computing power and access to knowledge than has ever been accessible to 99.999% of human beings? That’s magic. The metal tube that cruises at 36,000 ft., and gets you safely from New York to Los Angeles in 6 hours? That’s magic too.
I’ve spent my entire career studying magic (and no, not the “abracadabra” type), the kind of magic that happens when a business does something so special, and goes so far beyond expectations, their customers have no choice but to deem it magic. And this style of magic…well, it leaves clues. If you look carefully, over time you’ll be able to “see behind the curtain,”, and understand exactly what goes into these magic tricks.
So, what’s the secret? What do these magical companies have up their sleeves that others don’t?
Innovation and Creativity.
That’s right, Innovation and Creativity. These two traits are at the core of every magical moment I’ve witnessed, both in my 25+ year career as Head of Innovation and Creativity at The Walt Disney Company, and now, running iD8.
And while many CEOs and business owners likely recognize the benefits of Innovation and Creativity, these traits have traditionally been viewed as “nice to have,” and really only meaningful for a handful of “creative” organizations (such as Disney).
But now, they are essential for survival.
We’re in the middle of the most disruptive period in recent history, with organizations being outpaced and made obsolete not in a matter of years, but a matter of months. To survive and thrive in this climate, companies need to understand how to innovate at speed and solve challenges creatively. They need to understand how to create a culture of creativity that allows for consistent, actionable “lightbulb” moments, and ensures they are making magic week after week, month after month, and year after year.
And I’d like to help you find some of this magic!
Leaning on my time at Disney, I now work with organizations across the globe to develop their own magical creative cultures. Having seen just how much impact innovation can have on a company, I try to share my experiences through every possible outlet I can, including multiple Ted X presentations; Fast Company magazine; Innovation & Design Thinking Courses at Yale, Duke, Auburn and University of Florida, and more.
But no matter the channel, the message is the same: we are all born creative. We are all born with imagination, curiosity and intuition. However, somewhere along the way, these traits are diluted. So much so, that for many these traits are muted. My mission is to remind everyone of these core skill sets we are born with and teach people how to use these skills to innovate in business.
While I have been blessed to receive a Hons. PhD from Edinburgh Napier University & The White House American Citizen by Choice Award, the true reward for me is watching the organizations I work with become innovation powerhouses and experience the magic that comes along with building a culture of creativity.
So, how can I help your organization take control and create a culture that “thinks different” and innovates at scale? Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways we can work together:
Having delivered countless keynotes across the globe, speeches are one of my primary tools for teaching organizations how to leverage the power of creativity and innovation. My goal is to motivate and engage your audience, leaving them with an actionable set of steps to immediately improve their creativity and innovation capabilities, earning your business a massive competitive advantage in the process.
While each of my talks is tailored specifically to that particular audience and organization, they fall under one of three main focus points:
My 25-year career at Disney taught me many important things about building a profitable business and winning creative culture. The most important? If you want to be different, you have to “think different.”
I lean on these experiences to take audiences on a journey. Throughout “Think Different,” they’ll be given a unique set of Innovation Tools and Techniques – the same ones I used with teams inside the Disney organization. These include the breakthrough “What If?” creative thinking tool, made famous by Walt Disney himself, who used it to pivot his company from simply an animation house to an entertainment and theme park pioneer.
After this immersive crash course, your organization’s ability to mine creativity and innovation will drastically improve. In the end, your audience will leave with an actionable set of steps they can take to immediately start reshaping your company’s culture, creating a space where innovation thrives, and teams are encouraged and rewarded when they “think different.”
Embedding Innovation into Everyone’s DNA
Innovation is not something that happens by chance. It’s the result of building an environment in which it can thrive.
My entire career has focused on fostering environments of innovation. In my Embedding Innovation into Everyone’s DNA keynote, I will share the exact steps and strategies used to create such an environment. Your team will learn how to create safe spaces for taking creative risks, ensure everyone on your team is empowered and thinking like an entrepreneur, and transition from ideation to action. I’ll also share a creative problem-solving tool called “What Else,” which will prime your organization to discover innovative ideas each and every time you set out to tackle a challenge.
In the end, your team will walk away from this keynote with a fresh outlook on their day-to-day tasks and be ready to approach them with new levels of creative thinking, allowing innovation to flourish.
Customer Experience Magic
The best brands in the world don’t thrive simply because of their great product or service. They thrive because of an unrelenting passion and focus on customer experience.
Throughout Customer Experience Magic, I will show your audience what can happen when your organization transitions from a product-centric focus to a customer-centric one, and the steps you’ll need to take to get there. I’ll share a real-world example from my time as the Head of Innovation and Creativity at The Walt Disney Company, where we found ourselves facing challenges brought on not by our direct competitors, but by retail behemoth Amazon, whose lightning-fast fulfillment and delivery systems drastically changed how long our consumers were willing to wait to be served.
As the audience walks through this example, I’ll share the exact steps we took to turn this problem into a massive opportunity, and how we used it to reshape the way Disney serves its theme park guests, creating a whole new echelon of customer experience, a new level of experience that’s frequently deemed to be “magic” by guests.
By the end of this interactive presentation, you will have developed a whole new understanding of customer experience and will be able to reframe all the challenges facing your organization, finding those unique opportunities to create customer experience magic of your own.
Like anything else, Creativity and Innovation are skills best acquired through deliberate practice. That’s why I created a series of fun, engaging workshops focused on sharing the skills and mindset your teams need to maximize their creative potential.
These workshops are based on my time teaching Innovation and Creativity to thousands of Walt Disney employees across the globe, and have been adapted to provide actionable, effective processes, no matter if you are a team of 5 or 5,000.
Here’s a closer look at three specific workshops we offer to companies across the globe:
Demystifying Design Thinking
In Demystifying Design Thinking, participants spend the day learning creative problem-solving techniques, and how to identify new opportunities within the marketplace, take calculated risks, work collaboratively within their teams and across other departments, bring fresh ideas to market, and drive strategic growth for their organization.
Specifically, I teach participants each of the 4 stages of creative problem solving:
• Initiate – A look at how to define opportunities, align them with organizational goals, and inspire action.
• Investigate – This stage is all about uncovering truths. Here, I share the strategies I used at Disney to gather clues about customers and anticipate what they wanted before it was ever vocalized on a survey or customer comment card.
• Ideate – During this stage, I share a series of Lateral Thinking tools to help get everyone out of their “River of Expertise” and dare to think big.
• Activate – Where the rubber meets the road. During this stage, participants will learn how to effectively bring their big ideas to life, and be given tools to navigate major roadblocks, such as stakeholder sign-off and idea dilution.
In the end, your team will think, laugh, share and learn. They’ll walk away with new skill sets and toolkits that will greatly increase their ability to innovate, and more importantly, they will be energized and ready to start tackling these creative problems for your business today!
Leading for Creativity
In this age of artificial intelligence and rapid technological innovation, how can companies stay ahead of the curve? How do you compete when the rules of the game seem to change every single day?
Simple: Be bold. Be memorable. Be brave. And be creative.
Easier said than done, right? Thankfully, I’ve been able to compress my decades of leading the Walt Disney creative process into an immersive creativity workshop. Leading for Creativity provides a unique set of 8 “Creative Behaviors” that will help foster a culture of innovation and creativity in your company, including:
• Nurturing – How to grow an idea collaboratively so it becomes “our idea” vs “my idea”
• Playfulness – How to get into the right state of mind required for innovation and creativity at work
• Signaling – How to set teams up for success by creating the right environment for ideation
• Instinct – How to dial up empathy for the consumer, ensuring all the ideas are embedded in “Consumer Truth”
• Mindfulness – How to give yourself time to think, allowing you to move between your conscious and unconscious brain
• Curiosity – How to leverage the importance of unplanned collaboration and find new stimulus to drive new ideas
• Prototyping – How to bring an idea to life
• Bravery – How to use tools to create a culture of smart risk-takers
After learning these 8 creative behaviors, your team will be able to achieve new levels of creativity within your organization, the kind of creativity that will allow your business to remain on the cutting edge not just for today or tomorrow, but for years to come.
Insights for Innovation
Have you ever thought how amazing it would be if you could read your customers’ minds?
We had the same thought back at Disney. So, we figured out a way to do just that, turning our teams into “customer mind readers.” And now, through the Insights for Innovation workshop, your team can learn to do the same.
The Insights for Innovation workshop is all about uncovering consumer truth. I will show your team how to fine-tune their mind reading skills and understand exactly what is going on inside your customers’ heads. After several interactive sessions, they’ll have the tools they need to absorb and clarify insights, and develop actionable steps based on what they learn through interacting with your customers.
More than just surface-level listening, your team will master the ability to find customer clues, make informed hypotheses, and create innovative solutions focused on what your customers really want and need. The result? A workforce that is practically reading your customers’ minds and giving your business an incredible competitive advantage in the process.
IDEATION SESSIONS & CONSULTING
Did you know that Walt Disney developed the idea for Disneyland during a deliberate creative problem-solving exercise, where he was trying to find ways in which he could have more control over how guests experienced his films? Or that prolific inventor Thomas Edison, knowing that his best ideas came in his sleep, developed a method to deliberately wake himself immediately after dozing off, so that he could write down whatever ideas he had in his dazed state of mind?
My point: creativity and innovation are a deliberate practice, not an inherent trait.
So, what steps is your organization taking right now to promote these skills and get its next big idea?
Though creativity and innovation can feel very natural, they are most commonly the product of very specific situations and environments. And these environments are something you can absolutely engineer to promote ideation.
I’ve spent my career helping teams and businesses change the way they innovate through Ideation Sessions. Custom-built for each situation and team, Ideation Sessions use my iD8&innov8 Design Thinking Method to help individuals and companies think differently and develop game-changing ideas that are deeply embedded in consumer insight.
Once we train your team to step outside their own “River of Thinking” (i.e. their own expertise) and inspire them to use a series of Innovation Tools and Creative Behaviors to develop “Moonshot Thinking,” they’ll understand how they can strategically and repeatedly create the best environment for innovation within your business.
The result? Your business develops a massive competitive advantage.
In this time of fast-paced disruption, the companies that succeed are the ones that can reinvent themselves and anticipate the changing needs of their customer. The ones that stay ahead of the curve, creatively solve problems, promote ideation and consistently innovate.
Through these creative consulting services and Ideation Sessions, your team will be given the tools, skills, and roadmap for driving successful innovation and problem solving for years to come. I imagine you may have questions. I’d love to speak with you about your unique needs, and what this collection of innovation and creativity services can do for you. Give me a shout today, and let’s make some magic.