Duncan Wardle

The former vice-president of Innovation & Creativity at The Walt Disney Company, Duncan spent his 25-year career driving innovative ideas and strategies for the world’s most creative organization.

By Duncan Wardle

Not so long ago, the term “innovation” was nothing more than a corporate buzzword, right up there with “leveraging synergies.” But today, innovation is no longer just a buzzword to throw in your investor deck. With the rise of the Silicon Valley empire, and the dizzying speed at which technology has progressed over the last decade, innovation has become a tangible difference maker. A tool that allows companies to create and execute incredible ideas faster than ever, leapfrogging the competition in the process.    

With innovation, David can repeatedly beat Goliath. Netflix over Blockbuster. Uber over cabs. Amazon over Sears. No industry is safe. No business is immune.

Innovation is no longer a buzzword or a trend; it’s a requirement for survival.

Thankfully, innovation can be cultivated and taught. While many may think innovation is one of those skills you either have or you don’t, this simply isn’t true. If your company is failing to innovate, it’s because you have failed to create a culture of innovation.

While serving as the Head of Creativity and Innovation at Disney, I developed a series of tools and actionable strategies to foster creativity and drive innovative ideas. These strategies were developed over years of studying innovative leaders and companies, and have been employed globally by some 30,000 people I have trained as an Innovation Speaker and Consultant.

Here is a quick look at a few of my favorites:

Ask “What If”

What if you didn’t have to drive to the store to rent a movie? What if you could catch a ride with the press of a button? Encouraging everyone in your organization to repeatedly ask “what if” will create a culture that sows the seeds of innovation.

Unplanned Collaboration

Most offices arrange desks based on department. Not surprisingly, this creates a culture where the same few ideas are recirculated among the same people. To create a culture of innovation, businesses can arrange a workplace to bring together people who might not normally meet, to have new, interesting conversations, and develop innovative ideas that wouldn’t have occurred in a traditional office setting.

Embracing Play

The benefits of play are profound, and yet continue to be underappreciated inside corporate cultures. Ask people where they are when they get their best ideas, and you’ll hear things like showering, jogging, or playing with my kids. But you will never hear the words “at work.”

Encouraging your teams to play – whether it’s through games, exercises, or workshops – will ensure they release their inner child and start to think creatively.

Interested in learning more about fostering innovation? Then check out my upcoming DISRUPT Innovation Masterclass, taking place April 3rd at SFU. This intimate gathering of Vancouver thought leaders will focus on infusing a culture of innovation inside even the most traditional workplaces.

In addition to the masterclass, I’ll also be running Innovation Workshops at the University of British Columbia, as well as providing a keynote address at the BCTECH Summit. For more information, be sure to visit www.duncanwardle.com.