Creative Innovation 2019 (Ci2019)

Creative Leadership is what we need right now – Time to “unlearn”

Monday, 10 September 2012

by Tania de Jong AM

The global economy swings between signs of recovery and predictions of imminent collapse. Businesses appear paralysed. Though many are cash-rich, they’re risk-averse, strategically incremental and lacking fresh ideas and innovation. The world needs leadership, invention and daring now more than ever. We need audacity not austerity. We need to attack big, wicked, problems that improve the economy and society as a whole. We need to embrace bold ideas that represent real business opportunities and spark a revolution for courage and change.

Our world faces incredible challenges. We live in a world full of surprises – there’s something about technology that brings us ever closer to the margins than we could go before: drilling oil deeper, taking greater banking risks and even increasing the number of aeroplanes in our skies. When things go wrong and the oil leaks, or the finance sector collapses, or volcanic ash clouds block our skies, they go very wrong indeed.

Inevitably as technology progresses, the extent of associated risks does too and our lives in this new millennium will be, as they already are, filled with large surprises. We face the certainty of uncertainty. Individuals and organisations need creative new ideas and innovative solutions to adapt to constant change and re-invent the future.

Strategic creativity is increasingly valuable to nations, communities and individuals making the transition to innovation and knowledge-based economies. Creativity and innovation are vital for businesses exposed to globalisation, increased competition, consumer diversity and rapidly changing technology. Tomorrow’s competitive success will be based on creative ideas.

The development of people who can imagine and create innovative new solutions is the key to future success and sustainability. The recent IBM CEO Global Study surveyed 1500 CEOs and identified creativity as the most important leadership attribute over the next five years in an increasingly complex global environment. This study is the largest known sample of one-on-one CEO interviews, with over 1,500 corporate heads and public sector leaders across 60 nations and 33 industries polled on what drives them in managing their companies in today’s world.

So what is creative leadership?

Creative Leadership has been defined as the ability to shed long-held beliefs and develop and introduce original and at times radical concepts and execution. This requires bold, breakthrough thinking. This isn’t about having a lone creative leader at the top but rather a “field” of creative leadership, by igniting the collective creativity of the organisation from the bottom up. In essence, creative leaders excel at creating creative leaders.

The IBM report identifies a group of standout organisations that delivered solid business results even during the recent downturn. Their revenue growth was six times higher than the rest of the sample and they plan to get 20 per cent of revenues from new sources in the near future.

How do these firms succeed? These top performers focus on developing creative leaders across their organisations, deepening partnerships with employees and customers and achieving operational agility. Creative leaders in these firms are more prepared and willing to make deeper business model changes to realise their strategies. To win, they take more calculated risks and keep innovating in how they lead and communicate. They are ready to upset the status quo even if it’s successful and are committed to ongoing experimentation with disruptive business solutions.

Changing the work culture, unlearning and selectively forgetting past success formulas, and co-creating future products and services with employees, customers, and external partners are hallmarks of creative leaders in organizations from the US, Europe, and Asia. Firms exhibiting creative leadership out-performed their competition during the recession.

Let’s stop saying we are creative and innovative and start doing. We need to develop creative and courageous leaders and build a culture of innovation where failure is acceptable and successfully implemented ideas are rewarded and celebrated.

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"Without a doubt the best conference in Australia with a delightful mix of creativity and big thinking bringing together an eclectic group of industry, community and education leaders. Once again, I’ve come away enthused by new ideas, more aware of future trends, and heartened by the kindness of humanity. We all have a role to play and it should be a collective one." Kerry Anderson, Founder of Operation Next Gen

"Conferences are boring. Creative Innovation is more like a rodeo for ideas, and you are guaranteed to leave wanting to make the world better for everyone." Andrew Despi, A.kin

"Kudos to Tania for organising the the 2019 CI Conference in Melbourne - it is the best I have attended so far. All the speakers and sessions were very well-planned. I have attended many conferences and this is the first I did not have the 'luxury' to skip any sessions. Your effort in this space has truly made Melbourne a global innovation and entrepreneurship hub." Danny Ong, Deakin University

"I wanted to pass along how incredible I thought Creative Innovation was and how much your passion for life and for humanity was inspiring to all of us. It was a privilege to be included and one that I am very grateful for." John Pickering, Chief Behavioural Scientist

"Creative Innovation is a transformational platform built by changemakers for changemakers. It is an educational adventure showcasing the forefront of ideas internationally." Melissa Warner, Ci2019 Scholarship Winner & Education Officer, Mind Medicine Australia

"Creative Innovation 2019 was one of the most well-organised events I’ve ever taken part in. From beginning to the end, every detail had been planned through and taken care of. Secondly, are the production values. As a result, it was possible to attend all the sessions without suffering conference burn-out, happy in the knowledge that the next piece of content was guaranteed to delight and challenge the senses." Richard Claydon (Singapore)

"Well done on another successful Ci conference. Your energy, passion and sheer determination to ensure the conference delegates get a fantastic experience is admirable." VP People & Global Capability | P&GC, Woodside Energy


There are a host of incredible opportunities to partner with us on this world class innovation event. If you are interested in becoming a partner or creative collaborator for the upcoming conference, please contact:

Tania de Jong AM // Founder and Executive Producer
Tel: +61 (0)3 8679 6000

Alrick Pagnon
Tel: +61 (0)3 8679 6000

“Remarkable, mind blowing, brilliantly choreographed – easily the best conference ever and I’ve been to plenty. Truly wonderful and amazing.”

Jim Grant, Partner, Dattner Grant

“Thank you for a challenging and rewarding couple of days. The quality of the team you had at the conference was extraordinary! These events will change people and thereby the world.”

Craig Carolan, Director Private Wealth, ANZ

“I came to learn – I came away inspired! Best conference ever.”

Paul Duldig, University of Melbourne