John Kao

  • Chairman, The Institute for Large Scale Innovation
  • Former Harvard Business School Professor who developed the acclaimed curriculum on Innovation & Business Creativity
  • M.D., Yale Medical School, Psychiatry
  • Bestselling Author of Jamming: The Art & Discipline of Business Creativity and Innovation Nation


In an era, whose very essence is constant disruption, leaders need to engage a new model of thinking that will invoke a true sense of curiosity, problem-solving and, more importantly, opportunity-seeking in every individual contributor within your organization. Here to help lead the charge is Dr. John Kao, who provides a framework he calls The Six Intelligences that will engage the WHOLE PERSON as a catalyst for change. His framework will help your people apply consistent behavioral practices that will develop their unique potential, while invoking invaluable skill sets that will enable each person as well as your organization to make a rapid transition from crisis to opportunity. 

Kao’s Eclectic Background makes him the perfect guide to your desired future: With five decades of layered knowledge and application in the worlds of behavioral science, business creativity, entrepreneurship, innovation, Dr. John Kao represents the whole person who draws from multiple experiences and knowledge platforms to guide audiences with actionable and habit-focused strategies. Dubbed “Mr. Creativity” and a “Serial Innovator” by The Economist, Dr. Kao brings both inspiration and pragmatic guidance to leaders and organizations worldwide who want to achieve their desired future.

 

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Rave Reviews About John Kao
 Our Business Week Symposium of Chief Executive Officers was an overwhelming success! Your session drew a great deal of praise from the participants who said they picked up valuable concepts from the presentations. The fact that the working groups which followed were standing room only attests to your effectiveness.

A Sample of the Groups That Have Hosted John Kao
  • BusinessWeek
  • Design Council
  • Harvard University, Graduate School of Business Administration
  • Pepsico Foods International Limited Europe Group
  • Tiffany & Co.
  • Homee Communications
  • Skolkovo Foundation
  • American Society for Training & Development
  • Navigant Consulting
  • Transition Leadership International
John Kao - The beginner's guide to innovating - One Young World - Get Sharable Link
Explore John Kao's Talks
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MAKING THE FLIP: Rapid Transition from Crisis to Opportunity

Disruption – and not just of the Covid-19 variety - is our new reality. The rapid economic, social and political shifts we are experiencing today are unprecedented – and require proactive, creative responses. Yet, most business leaders are stuck in “crisis mode,” making short-term, reactive decision ...

Disruption – and not just of the Covid-19 variety - is our new reality. The rapid economic, social and political shifts we are experiencing today are unprecedented – and require proactive, creative responses.

Yet, most business leaders are stuck in “crisis mode,” making short-term, reactive decisions aimed at battening down the hatches and weathering the storm until things return to “normal.”

Normal no longer exists. Constant disruption is here to stay. The organizations that will thrive are those who are rapidly able to transition from crisis to opportunity – the ability that Dr. John Kao calls “making the flip,” which is a deliberate shift in attitude, focus and decision-making that capitalizes on the fluid situation created by a crisis.

Dr. John Kao’s approach to making the flip is based on a new leadership paradigm of hybrid thinking, acting and organizing that will prepare your leaders, your people and your organization to reframe crises as opportunity. Its blended framework will release energy stuck in old patterns and conservative behavior, and create momentum for high-potential, future-oriented actions.

This blended framework of thought and action is what Dr. John Kao refers to as The Six Intelligences that enables smart leadership and rapid transitions to opportunity in disrupted times. They include:

  • Contextual Intelligence – From confusion to clarity
  • Moral Intelligence – From tactics to principles
  • Psychological Intelligence – From structures to people
  • Generative Intelligence – From mechanisms to ecosystems
  • Technological Intelligence – From adequacy to fluency
  • Transformational Intelligence – From mere change to a desired future

 

Dr. Kao’s deep and eclectic background from psychiatry (Yale, M.D.) to developing Harvard Business School’s acclaimed MBA curriculum on business creativity and innovation, to his work consulting Fortune 50s and government leaders on successful behaviors and concepts around transformational change, to his entrepreneurial successes as co-founder of several high tech companies, positions him as the perfect guide to lead your people through the narrative of WHY this framework is so critical, as well as the roadmap to HOW each person can begin to implement it starting today.

Dr. Kao has shared his relevant and tactical approaches at The World Economic Forum Davos, TED, Google, the Keidanren and NATO, and has been dubbed “Mr. Creativity” and a “Serial Innovator” by The Economist.

 

SPEECH TAKEAWAYS

  • Flip Your Perspective: Dr. Kao provides a new model of thinking based on what he calls the Six Intelligences that enable each person in your organization (from leader to individual contributor) to tap into a broader perspective, free themselves from limiting preconceptions, reimagine what is possible and take decisive action.
  • Flip Your Story: From his Tony-nominated mini-career in Hollywood and on Broadway, Dr. Kao brings a wealth of unique experience to crafting powerful narratives for your organization that open new horizons of possibility.
  • Flip Your Reach: Every touchpoint matters. From your internal monologue, to your external dialogue, to sharing your product or service with the world. Dr. Kao’s Six Intelligences framework provides a roadmap for every person in your organization to express their deeper value as a stakeholder and to use the framework to create meaningful organizational change.
  • Flip Your Solution Model: Dr. Kao shifts thinking from revenue-first to people-first, which will help your teams solve problems based on human needs and ultimately result in higher revenue.

 

Dr. Kao’s Six Intelligences Framework can be presented as a holistic big picture message or as curated content with specific relevance to these four audiences:

  • INDIVIDUAL CONTRIBUTORS – The “so what” for me – self-development, fulfilling human potential, empowerment.
  • TEAMS – The “so what” for us - enhancing collaboration, engendering belief in what is possible.
  • ORGANIZATION – The “so what” for our organization - pre-positioning capability, thinking the unthinkable, reimagining innovation, reframing culture, inspiring narratives and a sense of urgency.
  • SOCIETY – The “so what” for all of us - different patterns of response to disruptions such as Covid-19 and thinking beyond to the next big disruptor

Before Innovation Comes Creativity: The innovation Concert

Innovation is a hot topic these days.  Countries cultivate it, companies demand it.  Employees seek the innovation edge.  And Gen Z wants it.   However, before innovation comes creativity.  It all begins with the spark of an idea, generated in a human brain in uncertain circumstances that must be nu ...

Innovation is a hot topic these days.  Countries cultivate it, companies demand it.  Employees seek the innovation edge.  And Gen Z wants it.  

However, before innovation comes creativity.  It all begins with the spark of an idea, generated in a human brain in uncertain circumstances that must be nurtured to express its full potential. Yet in the headlong rush for innovation, the practice of creativity has largely been ignored. Ideas are assumed to be fungible, while the emphasis has been on reducing innovation to a best practice, metrics, stage gates, process flows, management accountability systems and the like.  

This is a dangerous assumption as it is the quality (and quantity of ideas) generated that leads to quality innovation.  And the very management practices that lead to efficient innovation are often directly opposed to those that support creativity in the enterprise.  

John Kao balances the creative and the business perspective in drawing from a lifelong immersion in creative fields.  As Yamaha’s first “Innovation Artist,” he can use music as a compelling illustration of how creativity in business works and what the management requirements really are.

Virtual Presentations

Dr. John Kao’s five decades of layered knowledge and application in the worlds of behavioral science (he is a Yale-trained psychiatrist), business creativity (he developed the acclaimed Harvard Business School program on business creativity and innovation), entrepreneurship (he is the co-founder of ...

Dr. John Kao’s five decades of layered knowledge and application in the worlds of behavioral science (he is a Yale-trained psychiatrist), business creativity (he developed the acclaimed Harvard Business School program on business creativity and innovation), entrepreneurship (he is the co-founder of several high-tech companies), innovation (he has advised Fortune 50s and governments on innovation at scale), and music (he is a jazz pianist) make him an incredibly nuanced and eclectic guide who captivates virtual audiences. He also has a full studio set-up at home with the latest in innovative presentation platforms to make virtual a memorable experience for all audiences.

    • Virtual Narrative and Q&A - Dr. Kao delivers 30-40 min of content in a conversational style, accompanied with engaging slides, and followed  by Q&A which can be moderated by the organization host, or he can field questions through the online chat feature.

    • Leadership Virtual Fireside Chat - 40-60 min of open dialogue with organization leadership and moderated Q&A with viewing audiences focused on the organization's goals and challenges and how Dr. Kao's framework can help them achieve their desired future.

    • Virtual Breakout Room - 20-30min breakout session with key leadership can be added to any program for deeper dive conversation addressing how Dr. Kao's content can be directly applied with their teams.

    • Virtual Meet and Greet - 20-30min virtual meet and greet can be added to any program so that the viewing audience can engage with Dr. Kao and ask specific questions.   

    • Deep Dives - 30-60min Deep Dives on practical applications of Dr. Kao's content can be curated for a deeper strategy session with leaders and teams.

 

Going Beyond the “Innovation” Buzzword

Innovation is at the top of the management agenda, yet it has become a meaningless buzzword. While many leaders “get” why innovation is important, most struggle to create a transformative innovation strategy that is distinct, effective and actionable. In this presentation John Kao helps organization ...

Innovation is at the top of the management agenda, yet it has become a meaningless buzzword. While many leaders “get” why innovation is important, most struggle to create a transformative innovation strategy that is distinct, effective and actionable. In this presentation John Kao helps organizations get past the hype of innovation and right to the heart of getting it done.

Innovation 2018 – A Report Card on American (Global) Innovation

Innovation now has a new geography as countries from China to Dubai invest in massive national innovation agendas designed to enhance their competitiveness.  It is hard to underestimate the speed at which the global game board is shifting through the influence of new technologies, new business model ...

Innovation now has a new geography as countries from China to Dubai invest in massive national innovation agendas designed to enhance their competitiveness.  It is hard to underestimate the speed at which the global game board is shifting through the influence of new technologies, new business models, new consumer demographics and more.  

At the same time, incumbent countries, America principal among them, must reassess their innovation posture.  America has always taken its innovation advantage for granted; it is woven into our country’s DNA.  Yet innovation is no longer a set of advantages that can be taken for granted.  This presentation documents the rising tide of innovation worldwide and positions America within it and presents an agenda for what America must do to remain pre-eminent. 

This keynote speech draws upon the Jon Kao's unique perspective as an advisor to numerous countries on innovation policy, as a member of a U.S. White House Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology expert panel on G2 innovation cooperation, and author of the influential book Innovation Nation, which documents America’s rising innovation challenge.

EdgeMaking – How a Rising Generation Will Learn to be Innovators and Change the World

Today's rising generation was born into a world with problems: climate, conflict, poverty, disease.  No wonder that they are imbued with purpose and a desire to make change – and at an earlier age than ever before.   The question is where they will learn the skills of creativity, digital fluency, en ...

Today's rising generation was born into a world with problems: climate, conflict, poverty, disease.  No wonder that they are imbued with purpose and a desire to make change – and at an earlier age than ever before.  

The question is where they will learn the skills of creativity, digital fluency, entrepreneurship, collaboration, design and story-telling that will give them the “how” of innovation and enhance their employability in a turbulent world.  Schools in most parts of the world are not the answer, they are rooted in an old-world model of what it means to be educated.  

This keynote presents a new vision of the capacities needed by young people to express their passion and idealism in service of world changing goals.  Vivid case studies of young people who are making a difference way ahead of schedule are presented.  And a new vision of education – digitally enabled, distributed and personal – will be shared.  It draws upon the speaker’s 30 years of experience creating compelling learning experiences for business students and executives, which has culminated in a new vision of innovation learning: EdgeMakers.

Innovation Master Class

John Kao’s Innovation Master Class (1-2 day program) combines the best of an executive program with a deep dive component to produce, not just a knowledge base around innovation, but practical steps to innovation and execution.  Mr. Kao wrote the book on executive education for innovation—literally. ...

John Kao’s Innovation Master Class (1-2 day program) combines the best of an executive program with a deep dive component to produce, not just a knowledge base around innovation, but practical steps to innovation and execution. 

Mr. Kao wrote the book on executive education for innovation—literally. His acclaimed residential executive program at Harvard Business School—Enhancing Corporate Creativity—was rated 4.8 out of 5 in its first year of inception. Mr. Kao has modified this core curriculum to teach executives in companies and governments worldwide, including the Singapore Civil Service College and the US Naval Postgraduate School, which made John a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Innovation. 

Now, your executives don't have to travel or sit in a group setting that prevents candid discussion about your organization’s innovation needs-—John will bring the power of executive education to YOU with a customized two-day program.

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<p>Harness Your Imagination to Solve “Wicked” Global Issues</p>

Harness Your Imagination to Solve “Wicked” Global Issues

Innovation Leader JOHN KAO gave the opening keynote presentation at the 2016 One Young World Summit, where an incredible audience of hundreds of leaders between the ages of 18 and 30, from all over the world, attended to collaborate on solutions that address urgent global issues. Kao addressed “wicked problems” — those problems that are so complex as to seem insoluble, which his company EdgeMakers is tackling in innovative ways. 

Read more from this Inspiring Event...
<p>John Kao Chats with Quincy Jones About Young Creators Transforming the World</p>

John Kao Chats with Quincy Jones About Young Creators Transforming the World

Innovation Expert & Disruptor JOHN KAO sat down with quintessential musician Quincy Jones and they talked about many things, including the importance of nurturing the talent of young people, who Kao refers to as “EdgeMakers” — inspired young creators who are transforming their worlds, and ours, by fusing disciplines in entirely new ways. In his post, Kao writes, "What Q understands, as do I, is that we all have this capability within us, given the right resources and inspiration." John Kao continues to inspire businesses and individuals to get beyond the buzzword of innovation to make real innovation happen.

Read more about his visit with Quincy Jones...
<p>What Does ">

What Does "Innovation" Mean Today and for the Future?

Innovation Visionary JOHN KAO shares insights on re-igniting the spark around the true meaning of creativity and innovation. Fresh from his attendance at the Techonomy conference where he had hundreds of conversations with leaders about what innovation means and doesn't mean, and more importantly, how to get it done, Kao helps us reset the innovation button.

Read more...
<p>Fast-Track Your Innovation Agenda with John Kao</p>

Fast-Track Your Innovation Agenda with John Kao

Innovation expert JOHN KAO continues to inspire audiences around the world with his engaging and transformational presentations that instill the spirit of creativity as well as the “how to” of innovation to get you beyond an innovation agenda and on track to “getting innovation done.”

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Biography

In an era, whose very essence is constant disruption, leaders need to engage a new model of thinking that will invoke a true sense of curiosity, problem-solving and, more importantly, opportunity-seeking in every individual contributor within your organization. Here to help lead the charge is Dr. John Kao, who provides a framework he calls The Six Intelligences that will engage the WHOLE PERSON as a catalyst for change. His framework will help your people apply consistent behavioral practices that will develop their unique potential, while invoking invaluable skill sets that will enable each person as well as your organization to make a rapid transition from crisis to opportunity.

Dr. John Kao’s five decades of layered knowledge and application in the worlds of behavioral science (he is a Yale-trained psychiatrist), business creativity (he developed the acclaimed Harvard Business School program on business creativity and innovation), entrepreneurship (he is the co-founder of several high-tech companies), innovation (he has advised Fortune 50s and governments on innovation at scale), music (he is a jazz pianist, was named Yamaha Music Corporations first “innovation artist,” and in the summer of 1969 apprenticed to rock legend Frank Zappa) makes him the perfect guide to your organization’s desired future. He himself represents the whole person and draws from multiple experiences and knowledge platforms to guide audiences with actionable and habit-focused strategies. Dr. Kao has shared his approaches at The World Economic Forum Davos, TED, Google, the Keidanren and NATO, and has been dubbed “Mr. Creativity” and a “Serial Innovator” by The Economist. He is currently a weekly contributor to Forbes.

Dr. Kao has spent much of his career developing compelling learning experiences for innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders. His eclectic approach is unique and blends disciplines as diverse as case method pedagogy, psychology, process facilitation, technology-enabled collaboration and stagecraft. As a Harvard Business School professor from 1982-96, he created acclaimed MBA and executive education courses on innovation and entrepreneurship. He has also held academic appointments at Stanford, the MIT Media Lab, and the US Naval Postgraduate School.

Dr. Kao is the author of the bestselling Jamming: The Art and Discipline of Business Creativity, which describes what leaders can learn from jazz, as well as Innovation Nation, which documents America’s growing innovation challenge. He is also the author of several e-books, including Clearing the Mind for Creativity, The Future is Yours to Invent, We Are All Producers Now and China, the Next Innovation Nation. He was a producer of the films Sex, Lies, and Videotape (Palme d’Or, Cannes) and Mr. Baseball (Universal Studios), and was nominated for a Tony Award for producing Golden Child on Broadway.

Dr. Kao’s education includes BA and MD degrees from Yale, a residency at the McLean division of Massachusetts General Hospital and an MBA from Harvard Business School. His work has received coverage in such media as The New York Times, The Economist, CNN, and The Colbert Report. He also served as Contributing Editor to The Daily Beast.

Dr. John Kao’s presentations and workshops will help you and your organization realize fresh horizons of opportunity and position you toward your desired future.