Duncan Wardle Profile

  • Wardle is Disney’s former Vice President of Creativity and Innovation.

  • Wardle’s original design thinking model served as the foundation of innovative cultures at ABC, ESPN, Lucasfilm, Marvel, and Pixar.

  • With high energy keynotes and stimulating ideation sessions, Wardle trains teams across multiple industries to unlock their greatest competitive advantage over AI: human imagination.
  • Duncan Wardle has sent Buzz Lightyear into space on a space shuttle, built an Olympic-sized swimming pool in Main Street USA to welcome gold medalist Michael Phelps, and flown a giant Mickey Mouse hot air balloon into the Soviet Union. The former PR executive and Vice President of Innovation and Creativity at Disney, he uses his wealth of experience to help companies worldwide foster a culture of creativity and innovation.

    Wardle worked at Disney for 30 years, starting at the Rose & Crown in Epcot at Walt Disney World after he graduated college. He was soon after transferred to the PR team in London. For years, he planned and executed memorable openings of attractions and parks in Tokyo, London, Paris, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Mumbai and Shanghai. In his final role at the company as Vice President of Innovation and Creativity, he was a key architect in the cultures of various Disney subsidiaries including ABC, ESPN, Lucasfilm, Marvel, and Pixar.

    Wardle spent a year and a half developing a creative problem solving model which was honed and implemented throughout Disney to create better ideas faster “and enjoy the process along the way.” Since launching his own consulting firm, iD8&innov8, he’s taken his time-tested design thinking method to thousands. Recent clients and appearances include McKinsey & Company, Disney, Apple, Forbes, NBA, and Coca Cola.

    • View Extended/Alternate Bio

      As the Former Head of Innovation & Creativity at the Walt Disney Company, Duncan Wardle is an inspiring and engaging keynote speaker, as well as a provocative and results-driven business consultant, who applies his creative talents and unconventional methods to help companies and individuals get to those breakthrough ideas that lead to extraordinary results.

      With an infectious energy and playful collaboration, Duncan pushes executives and their teams to overcome preconceived ideas, act more audaciously and dare to dream up with the exciting new things consumers are looking for.

      He shares his unique Id8&Innov8 model, honed at Disney, as a creativity speaker and design thinking coach for top brands (Coca-Cola, Ford, Johnson & Johnson), agencies (McKinsey, Thinking Heads, Rock Orange) and Universities (UCF, Rollins, Full Sail). By combining play, fun and daring, Duncan teaches and coaxes his audiences to pull themselves out of their own River of Thinking, to think and act disruptively and creatively.

      Prior to founding his firm Id8&Innov8, Duncan spent 25 years as a senior executive for the Walt Disney Co. In his most recent role as Vice President of Innovation & Creativity for Disney, he founded the Creative Catalyst team, where he developed a design thinking toolkit that enables both individuals and teams to increase their capacity to innovate, as well as a series of tangible Innovation Tools and Creative Behaviors. Together with his team, Duncan trained over 3,000 professional and executive Disney cast members from Pixar, Lucas film, Marvel, Animation, Disney Institute, Imagineering and Disney University how to unlock their creativity using tools that encouraged them to think more audaciously to solve challenges big and small and create innovative new storylines, products and services.

      Before heading up Innovation & Creativity at Disney, Duncan was Vice President of Global Public Relations and Vice President of International Marketing & Sales for the Disney Parks division. Duncan served in an executive role for the Walt Disney Company in London, Paris, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Mumbai and, most recently, Shanghai. In 2008, he was honored with the “Outstanding American Citizen Award” at the White House and in 2014 he was awarded a Hons. Doctorate from Edinburgh Napier University. He also holds the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award, presented by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

      Duncan’s #1 passion is to unleash the magic within each individual and organization.

    Duncan Wardle Speaking Videos

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    Duncan Wardle's Speech Descriptions

    Innovation speaker and creativity activator, Duncan Wardle has trained thousands of people globally to exercise the number one competitive advantage we have over AI: human imagination. Wardle teaches audiences the same creative solving problem model he developed and scaled while he was Vice President of Innovation and Creativity at Disney. Participants will gain a mixture of creative behaviors, design thinking tools, and “toys” that will enable them to think differently, increase agility, and connect more empathetically to customer needs.

    Having worked with Disney for 25+ years, most recently as Vice President of Innovation & Creativity, Duncan Wardle is now two a two-time TedX Speaker. He is also an inspiring and engaging speaker who delivers high-energy, entertaining and engaging keynote presentations on a variety of topics around Design Thinking, Innovation and Creativity.

    Thinking Differently

    Ever wonder why your best ideas come to you in the shower? Or why that killer comeback one-liner always comes to you 5 minutes after the argument is over? Have you ever asked yourself how Einstein, Disney and Edison innovated? Or wondered how some people develop breakthrough ideas that revolutionize an industry? Through his “Think Differently” presentation, Duncan shares a series of case studies from his time at Disney and immerses the audience in a unique set of Innovation Tools and Techniques that everyone can use to think and act more audaciously and get to breakthrough ideas.

    Embedding Innovation into Everyone’s DNA

    Disruption is inevitable and part of our everyday lives. So, how do you make Innovation a part of everyone’s DNA? How do you create a culture that embraces risk and entrepreneurialism, which allows everyone to innovate? During this presentation, Duncan shares how he infused a culture of innovation with a startup mindset across one of the most creative companies in the world, Disney, by using a unique innovation toolkit.

    Disruption is now a part of everyday life. So how do you make Innovation a part of everyone’s DNA? How do you create a culture that embraces risk and entrepreneurialism, allowing everyone to innovate? Here Duncan shares how he infused a culture of innovation with a start-up mindset, across one of the most creative companies via a unique innovation toolkit.

    Leading for Creativity

    How do some brands create a culture of creativity across everything they touch? Based on 25 years working with Disney, most recently as Vice President of Innovation & Creativity, Duncan shares some of the key creative techniques and behaviors he uses to develop big, innovative ideas. During this presentation, he stirs and unleashes the audiences’ creative juices.

    Demystifying Design Thinking

    What if you could learn a series of practical Design Thinking tools that you could actually use to create ideas that are embedded in consumer truth and drive business results? Duncan creates a deeply engaging, immersive presentation that not only answers these questions but also leaves the audience with a series of practical tools to take on challenges in new and different ways.

    Insights for Innovation

    How could we deliver breakthrough innovation by uncovering unique insights and pushing past our river of expertise? Leaning on 25 years of experience heading the Innovation & Creativity team at Disney, Duncan has created a unique insight gathering process that has led to some revolutionary new products and services. During this presentation, he shares a tangible collection of tips and techniques to uncover insights that fuel innovation.

    Duncan Wardle on Speaking

    The thing is artificial intelligence is coming fast. I think it has enormous benefits, but here are four things that you were all born with that artificial intelligence cannot replicate…

    SPEAKING.COM: What do you want people to learn or take away from your presentations?

    WARDLE:I want people to learn how to innovate tomorrow morning at nine o’clock and be able to do it for themselves. I love to inspire and motivate but what I really want to do is answer the “how.” Everybody wants to know how and nobody has helped with how. I want to give them a series of tools they can use the next day.

    The thing is artificial intelligence is coming fast. I think it has enormous benefits, but here are four things that you were all born with that artificial intelligence cannot replicate:

    1. We’re all born creative. We all played with the big box and not the gift that came inside it. It was the castle, the rocketship, the fort, etc.
    2. We all have an amazing imagination, and if you don’t think you do, just think about the dream you had last week.
    3. We’re all born curious and ask, “why?”, “why?” and “why?” again.
    4. We are all born intuitive. In fact, you have more neurons in your gut than you do in your spine and peripheral nervous system. Think about the decisions you and your consumers make every day whether it’s the dress you bought, the car you drive or the place you go on holidays. Those are intuitive decisions.

    Those four innate human traits then – creativity, imagination, curiosity, and intuition – are the four things that cannot be programmed into artificial intelligence, so they will be the four strongest employable assets in the next decade.

    SPEAKING.COM: What types of audiences would most benefit from your message?

    WARDLE: Anybody. My message is about creative problem-solving and how you change a culture. It’s about giving people tools. Right now, we are teaching children for jobs that don’t exist yet. We can continue to teach them English literature, English language, Math, French, Spanish, Geography, Biology or we can teach them creative problem solving which they can apply to any job.

    The ability to creatively problem solve is absolutely vital. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, how long you have been in it, what your line of business is and whether or not you’re a senior vice president or somebody walking in the door. The ability to solve problems creatively is a massive asset for the next decade, and I hope I can help people tap into that by giving them simple, easy, fun, tangible tools to do it.

    The problem is people don’t learn by listening. They learn by doing, and this is where I think to a certain extent the conference industry in itself needs to innovate.

    SPEAKING.COM: What inspired you to start doing speaking engagements?

    WARDLE: There’s a gap in the market. I’ve been going to conferences for 20 years. Most events, you go in, listen to the keynote but the keynote is supplanted first by the sponsor who talks too long, There’s promised time for Q&A but you don’t get it. You take a break and come back from the panel which are basically case studies. You go into a breakout group, come back to a keynote speaker, and you leave inspired, motivated, and ready to change the world. But a week later, somebody asks, “What did you learn?”

    The problem is people don’t learn by listening. They learn by doing, and this is where I think to a certain extent the conference industry in itself needs to innovate. Instead of just doing keynote, keynote, keynote, how might we do a series of tangible workshops to leave people with real tools they could use tomorrow morning at nine o’clock?

    We trained 10,000 people inside Disney to be more innovative and more creative, so I thought what could we do for the rest of the planet? I’m so passionate about this, so I’m running my own one-day masterclasses, an innovation workshop, design thinking, all the tools on April 3rd in Vancouver. If it’s successful, I’ll take it around the country. Exclusive Interview with Duncan Wardle
    Learning How to Innovate, with Duncan Wardle
    In this exclusive interview with SPEAKING.COM, innovation speaker Duncan Wardle discusses:
  • The biggest hurdles to creativity and how to break through them.
  • How to get authentic customer insights.
  • Why we shouldn't fear automation. Read the Full Interview
  • "We don’t have time to think. We are busy typing an email, creating a presentation, scheduling a meeting, and so on. And yet the moment we give ourselves time to think, we come up with a killer one-liner or that big idea. "
    - Duncan Wardle

    What People are Saying about Seeing Duncan Speak

    Rating Entries

    “Duncan was an inspiring part of TEDx. His knowledge and experience are matched by his enthusiasm for delighting the audience with his wit and charm. I look forward to working with Duncan again- learning & exploring, in-depth, through his design workshops!
    Cassaundra Melgar-C’De Baca, Executive Producer, TEDxLadyBirdLake

    “While Duncan spoke to a large and packed room, people were inspired and hung on his every word. Many claimed it was one of the best presentations they’d ever experienced. If you’re looking for an amazing speaker who can motivate others to innovate, then look no further than Duncan Wardle.”
    Michael Stelzner, Founder, Social Media Examiner and Social Media Marketing World

    “Duncan’s workshop sparked our creative minds and gave us tools that will pay dividends for years to come. My team was thoroughly captivated, fully engaged, energized and inspired. Look no further than Duncan for one of the best investments you will ever make in your business.”
    Lisa Cotter, Vice President of Marketing, Orlando Magic

    “Duncan has amazed all of us and our audience during his visit to Colombia. Addressing to an audience of over 1,000 people he was able to land innovation and creativity in very simple and practical steps, and in a very fun way also! It is obvious that his over 20 years of experience with outstanding results in his back has given us also proven results of his proposed methodology. As a speaker, he comes across very simple, clear but with an incredible passion that is so contagious, you don’t realize how time goes by in his presentation!”
    Marcelo Cataldo, CEO, Tigo Une

    “We’ve had the pleasure of having Duncan speak at three different events in 2017. Each time, he was the audience favorite, hands down. His presentations are work sessions designed to be fun, interactive, and fast-paced. Duncan is true wealth of creative knowledge and inspiration, and he helped our members stretch their out-of-the-box thinking.”
    Mike McMahon, President & Executive Director, Path to Purchase Institute

    “Duncan has a unique way of connecting with an audience and challenging them to approach creativity in a radically different approach. Considering that many of the people in the audience are creative people by nature and job description, that is fairly remarkable. Duncan’s insights and sense of humor keep the audience engaged from start to finish!”
    Paul Noland, President & CEO, International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions

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