John Kao

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Innovation Change Agent & Trusted Advisor to Leaders Worldwide, Bestselling Author, Jamming: The Art and Discipline of Business Creativity and Innovation Nation

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1 Video(s) By This Presenter

John Kao – Mr. Creativity

6 Programs By This Presenter

Today’s leadership playbook is woefully out of date.  The skills and traits that enabled past success often create dysfunction today. John’s breakthrough framework presents six forms of intelligence that leaders must deploy in a blended, integrated manner.  These include finely honed situational awareness, innovation sophistication and digital literacy, emotional and social intelligence, a moral compass, and the ability to galvanize needed transformation.  Taken together, they comprise the deep “how” of leadership.

This truly is the age of improvisation; today’s organizations must have the creativity and agility to generate value on the fly.  Like experienced jazz bands, they must learn to go far beyond the notes on the sheet music.  To explore these themes, John wrote the best seller Jamming, which describes the lessons leaders can learn from jazz. As Yamaha’s first “artist in innovation,” John can memorably demonstrate the deep principles of innovation practice with the optional use of a grand piano.

The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) refers to nine streams of hyper-rapid technology advance that confront leaders and organizations with disruption, uncertainty and complexity.  This landscape is evolving beyond the ability of leaders – private and public sector – to make wise decisions.  John has made a career of equipping them and the organizations they lead with the capacities to deal with the challenges of the “real” real world.

Given the complex challenges facing civil society, innovation remains an absolute requirement.  Yet there are profound gaps between the desire for innovation and the ability to practice it effectively.  Innovation must be reimagined for today’s realities.  The requirements for innovation success today have expanded from the kind of analytics and control mechanisms typical of the industrial era. Today we are in a fourth era of innovation, whose north star involves the linking of purpose to business model.

All of our desired outcomes and results lie in a future that is literally unknowable.  Yet in a time of turbulence, the need to perceive emerging trends and sense weak signals, to anticipate singularities is stronger than ever.  This presentation brings coherence to a motley collection of future making practices and equips practitioners with the necessary skills to peer into the future and to take relevant action.

Few agendas are as important or as poorly understood as innovation. For that reason, we need to bring innovation to innovation.

The traditional industrial and information models for businesses and society are not disappearing any time soon. But now we are moving into an age of uncertainty, in which competitiveness is increasingly defined by the ability to generate new sources of value, define new business models, catch new demographic and social waves, mobilize entrepreneurial energy, and read weak signals before they become trends.

Deep Dives are a place to do that. And to solve big problems. Or focus on a targeted strategic question and come up with rapid solutions. These are custom designed one or two day immersive sessions, typically involving a stakeholder group of 8-15 leaders. They make use of John’s tested ability to help groups heighten their creative abilities.

John’s executive programs are modeled after his well-known Harvard Business School executive program on innovation, which made innovation practical and actionable for organizational leaders. These provide an opportunity to test drive the latest innovation methodologies, develop custom innovation strategies and use a blend of learning modalities (case method, mini-projects and exercises) in the interest of experiential, practice-based learning.

These deep dives and executive programs may be held in John Kao’s Innovation Studio in San Francisco. Deep dives may also  be conducted at a client’s location by special arrangement.


“John was terrific; absolutely excellent!”

— SPX Corporation

This was one of the most productive workshops I’ve attended. I walked away with a framework for introducing a systematic approach to innovation in my organization.

— Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation

Our Tiffany Merchandising Conference was terrific and your opening presentation contributed enormously
to its success. The group is still talking and thinking about the experience! Many of the conference participants also expressed interest in having you participate in a real problem solving situation, which we can do in a workshop environment.

— Tiffany & Company

Thank you for helping ASTD make our International Conference and Exposition in Denver such a success. We had over 9,000 people in attendance

— American Society for Training & Development
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