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John Kao Speaker

John Kao

    • Founder & CEO of EdgeMakers
    • Change Agent & Trusted Advisor to Leaders Worldwide 
Full Bio
Fee Range

$20,000 - $30,000

Travels From


John Kao - The beginner's guide to innovating

John Kao - The beginner's guide to innovating

Businesses Need an Innovation Infrastructure

Businesses Need an Innovation Infrastructure

2012 Global Wellness Summit

2012 Global Wellness Summit

Dubbed “Mr. Creativity” and "a serial innovator” by The Economist, John Kao is a leading authority on innovation, business creativity, organizational transformation and emerging technologies. John has been a trusted advisor to senior leaders of both public and private sector organizations. He has advised the governments of Finland and Singapore on their innovation strategies as well as leading firms such as Nike, Intel, and BASF.  

Kao’s thought leadership is expressed in his books: Jamming: The Art and Discipline of Business Creativity, a BusinessWeek best-seller that has been published in a dozen languages; and Innovation Nation, which sounds the alarm about America's growing innovation challenge. He has published three e-books: The Future is Yours to Invent, Are You a Producer?, and Clearing the Mind for Creativity.

John’s work has been profiled in major publications, including The Economist, Harvard Business Review and The New York Times. He has served in many prestigious membership and advisory roles: 

Board Member – Bay Area Science and Innovation Consortium, Senior Visiting Fellow at Singapore Civil Service College, Advisor to Finnish Innovation Fund, Chairman – World Economic Forum’s Global Advisory Council on Innovation, Fellow of the Royal Society of Art, Member – Innovation Commission of Cisco Systems, Honorary Vice President of Arts and Business in the U.K., Advisor to Sitra, Advisor to Finland’s Aalto (Innovation) University, Advisor to Clinton Global Initiative

John is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor in emerging technology, and a Tony-nominated producer of film and stage. He was producer of the Broadway play, Golden Child, production executive on Sex, Lies and Videotape, and executive producer of Mr. Baseball.  A jazz pianist at heart, he spent the summer of 1969 playing keyboards for rock legend Frank Zappa.

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 organizations get past the hype of innovation and right to the heart of getting it done.

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 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.

Innovation 2016 – 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 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.  The 2016 presidential election will be included in detail as the context for why talking about American innovation is an urgent and important topic.    

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, 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. 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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