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David Kelley

Founder and Chairman,
IDEO

Palo Alto, United States

Creative confidence—the natural human ability to come up with new approaches to solve a problem and the courage to try them out—is one of our most precious resources.

Creative confidence will unlock future innovations

I dream of a future in which people no longer divide the world between us and them, “creatives” and “non-creatives.” It’s a myth, and itʼs one that holds us all back.

My life’s work through IDEO and Stanford is to unlock the creative potential in as many people as I can. Because, when adults regain the joy and creative confidence they felt as children, magic happens.

Take Marcy, a 5th grade teacher I met at Stanford d school. After decades in the education profession, feeling helpless at the way she saw creativity draining out of kids, Marcy dove headfirst into a two-day design workshop and emerged ready to try something new to prepare the next generation of leaders for the 21st century.

So in Marcy’s next history class, kids didn’t just sit quietly and read about the colonization of America, they flipped their desks over and climbed aboard the ships that would take them to the New World. They didn’t just write equations on a board, they used math as a tool to precisely calculate the size of the scale models they’d need to create a miniature American colony.

Yes, there were marked improvements in student test scores. But more importantly parents noticed that their kids asked better questions at home and began to engage more with the world around them as creative problem-solvers. Marcy didn’t just apply her newfound creative confidence to her classroom—she passed it on to the people who will shape the future.

This isn’t just a teacher’s option. Lawyers, entrepreneurs, designers, everyone comes up with more varied possibilities to the problems at hand when they’re not afraid to create and try something new.

Creative confidence—the natural human ability to come up with new approaches to solve a problem and the courage to try them out—is one of our most precious resources. People who have it make better choices, and they take action to improve the situations they can.

The future asks each of us to find the courage to unlock more creative confidence in the people around us—and ourselves. When I dream of the future, I dream of this.

David Kelley Bio:

David Kelley, founder and chairman of IDEO, is a California-based entrepreneur, educator, designer, and venture capitalist. He is recognized as one of America’s leading design innovators, in part thanks to his membership in the National Academy of Engineering and his receiving of numerous awards.

David serves as the Donald W. Whittier Professor at Stanford University, where he established the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, also known as the d.school. Preparing the design thinkers of tomorrow earned David the Sir Misha Black Medal for his “distinguished contribution to design education.” He has also won the Edison Achievement Award for Innovation, as well as the Chrysler Design Award and National Design Award in Product Design from the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.