Embedding a Culture of Innovation and Creativity into Everyone’s DNA

Within a minute of keynote speaker Duncan Wardle’s introduction at Dynamo University, everyone in attendance was on their feet, tasked with speaking to their neighbors in detail about their “expertise” in parachute design and honeybee therapy.

This became a common theme throughout Wardle’s keynote address—not the parachutes and honeybees, but audience involvement and spurring creativity through pushing Dynamo University guests out of their comfortable ways of thinking.

Diversity of Thought

Wardle asked the audience to draw a house in seven seconds. The result? Multitudes of the same square with two windows at the top, one door in the middle, and a triangle roof.

When redesigning the Disney Shanghai Resort, Wardle conducted the same test, and all the architects’ drawings were identical. The lone difference, his special guest—someone who was not an architect. And they drew a house made of dim sum, sitting atop a wicker basket, even with a door, windows, and a chimney. This illustration would inspire the Shanghai Resort’s strategic brand positioning, “Distinctly Disney, Authentically Chinese.”

Non-experts in a field, a “Naïve Expert,” as Wardle coined, ask provocative questions that experts won’t. Inviting people outside of your realm of expertise is often the key to bringing forth creative ideas that lead to the sought after innovation.

No Present Like the Time

Often, innovations will come from an industry that’s not your own, Wardle told the crowd. Disneyland’s MagicBand was berthed from observing a small company in Tokyo utilizing RFID.

To hit quarterly numbers, Disneyland could have just raised ticket prices. While it likely would have worked, it is not an innovative solution. Instead, by innovating and creating the MagicBand, Disney now saves Disneyland guests, on average, two hours per day.

“And what do Disneyland guests do with their free time?” Wardle said. “Shop.”

Two free hours to spend money, multiplied across the 20+ million guests Disneyland hosts per year, and the math speaks for itself.

Dynamo offers its clients the present of time through a seamless, cloud-based investment management platform for both Asset Managers and Asset Allocators.

The Power of Re-Expression

When you visit Disneyland, you aren’t a customer. You’re a guest. If you work at Disneyland, you aren’t an employee. You’re a Cast Member.

Even the smallest change of words empowers and inspires new ways of thinking. There’s a stark difference between how you would treat a customer versus a guest.

Wardle challenged the audience to utilize re-expression by shouting the first items that came to mind when opening a car wash, and he wrote the answers on an easel in the center of the stage. Water, soap, towels, and dryers all made the list.

However, he then re-expressed the challenge: our car wash would instead be an “Auto Spa.” Soap and water weren’t even in the top three for Dynamo University attendees, making way for music, baristas, and masseuses.

Re-expression can open new ways of tackling challenges from a different perspective.

AI is Coming

In many respects, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already here, but not in its full capacity or strength. In time, AI will take jobs. In time—three years, according to Wardle—ChatGPT can make Indiana Jones.

“We [consumers] don’t like that,” Wardle said. “But Wall Street does.”

However, AI can’t take creativity away from us, Wardle told the crowd. It’s the soft skills that make us human: creativity, imagination, emotional intelligence, and curiosity, that are distinct in their ways of separating from AI. And organizations that value such skills are the ones likely to survive the continued wave of AI disruption.

Visit our trust center to see Dynamo’s policies on responsible AI.

Innovation Should Scare You

Toward the end of the keynote session, Wardle requested a volunteer to join him on stage for a duet of Elton John and Kiki Dee’s Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.

When he had no takers, he said he’d come prepared with a solution—underneath one of the chairs in the large conference room was a sticky note, and whoever was the “lucky” recipient of said sticky note would sing.

We all reached under our seats but found no terrifying sticky notes. While relief washed over the previously panic-stricken faces, Wardle explained it was all an act, but with purpose. Those nerves and butterflies the audience felt, Wardle said, is not a necessary feeling to have every day or even every month, but is a good sign that you are doing something different and innovative.

“If you know the answer, you’re iterating,” Wardle said. “If it scares you, you’re innovating.”

Learn more about Dynamo University Boston ‘24’s Keynote Speaker and his theories on creativity by visiting www.duncanwardle.com.

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Dynamo Software gives alternatives investors a Performance Edge, empowering them to efficiently scale their firm to capitalize on the growing wave of private market opportunities. With the Dynamo Alternative Investment Platform, Limited and General Partners can now run a tightly integrated firm, putting all their data to work to accelerate operations across front, middle, and back office, unleashing teams to work smarter, and allowing leaders to make better investment decisions and scale their firm. Dynamo has a global footprint with operations across North America, EMEA, APAC, and UAE. Follow Dynamo on LinkedIn.