CM 098: Jon Kolko on Igniting Creativity in Organizations

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What if you are creative, but your organization is not?

Many of us have worked in places that have tried to adopt more creative practices, and we know that it doesn’t always produce the desired results. In fact, if we introduce creativity, it can even seem to backfire.

But Jon Kolko has devised a formula for injecting creativity into resistant organizations. Author of the book, Creative Clarity: A Practical Guide for Bringing Creative Thinking Into Your Company, Jon is a Partner at Modernist Studio and Founder of Austin Center for Design. He served as VP of Design at Blackboard, has worked extensively with both startups and Fortune 500 companies, and has written four additional books on design.

Jon shares insights for achieving creativity and innovation in even the most resistant organizations. In this interview we discuss:

  • Why attempts at introducing creativity into organizations can make things worse
  • The role framing plays in the creative process and how it helps with innovation
  • How leading with a creative strategy changes can yield more innovative solutions
  • Why summary problem statements are so important
  • How to push through complexity to arrive at simplicity
  • Why creative people work best a flow state of uninterrupted blocks of time
  • Why embracing a creative culture means embracing uncertainty
  • The role of feedback in a special kind of meeting called a critique
  • The two reactions to avoid when receiving feedback
  • How creative approaches differ in small versus large organizations
  • The three types of ownership of ideas
  • The one skill that every instructor needs to teach students in creative fields
  • What mentors are invaluable
  • Why teaching design thinking is inseparable from teaching of design

Links to Topics Mentioned in this Podcast

Jon Kolko

Creative Clarity

Frog Design



The Swoop and Poop

Design Thinking

If you enjoy the podcast, please rate and review it on iTunes – your ratings make all the difference. For automatic delivery of new episodes, be sure to subscribe. As always, thanks for listening!

Thank you to Emmy-award-winning Creative Director Vanida Vae for designing the Curious Minds logo, and thank you to Rob Mancabelli for all of his production expertise!



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