C-Suites Roundtable with Tom Kelley – Unleash

C-Suites Roundtable with Tom Kelley

October 6, 2018

Tom Kelley at Hong Kong Design Centre Roundtable with C-Suites

“UNLEASH! Empowered by Design Thinking” Programme of the Hong Kong Design Centre was launched on 6 October, Mr. Tom Kelley, partner of global design firm IDEO, led a C-Suites Roundtable on the subject of how leaders can build a creative culture and unleash the potential of the organisation.


“Leadership from the top is imperative to the successful application of design thinking in any organization, but how can we as leaders inspire, engage and motivate our staff to leave their comfort zone and do things differently?” said Prof. Eric Yim, the Chairman of Hong Kong Design Centre.

Tom Kelley believes that everyone is creative and that creativity is something which takes practice to master. “Design thinking is a thing really easy to learn, just like playing chess. You can learn the basic rules in 5 minutes, then spend a whole lifetime improving practice.”

Tom said flexibility and fluency are two approaches towards producing fresh ideas. “Fluency means generating a lot of ideas at the same time, flexibility means different ideas from different perspectives. For a good ideation session, we want both fluency and flexibility; we want lots of ideas and great ideas at the same time.”

According to the survey results conducted by HKDC earlier, the top two challenges being confronted by businesses in Hong Kong include retaining and attracting customers and retaining and attracting talents.


“The 21st-century marketplace has leveled the playing field for large corporations and ambitious upstarts.The digital revolution is rapidly transforming businesses and societies, causing disruption while also bringing new opportunities.  The war for talent has also intensified, as career options have opened up. These unprecedented and complex problems require new ways of thinking, new solutions and new ways of working.” Prof Yim added.

Tom added that everyone knows creativity is essential to success in any discipline or industry, but creative confidence is yet to be rediscovered,
“Creative confidence includes two main elements—the natural human ability to be creative, and the courage to act. Everybody has creativity, but we have to unbury it, we have to unleash it in people.”

Tom described how key elements of design thinking can be applied to real-world challenges, encouraging leaders from Hong Kong to take a human-centered approach to problem-solving, launch lots of small innovation experiments, and leverage the power of storytelling to make their best ideas come to life.

Creative Confidence

When asked if Design Thinking is suitable to Asian corporates, Tom said: “We all know that Asia has a fast pace of life, and design thinking allows you to prototype cheaply and iterate rapidly towards solving a problem.” “Asia does not lack creativity. What it takes probably is just a bit more confidence to unleash the region’s creative potential.,” he concluded.

“Creative Confidence” (Written by Tom Kelley and David Kelley) Source: Amazon.com