Who is

John Kao?

“If Orson Welles and Peter Drucker were somehow to mate, the resulting progeny might be something like Mr. Kao, a serial innovator.”



to world leaders on
innovation policy

Former Harvard Business School professor

specializing in Innovation
and Entrepreneurship

A Leader in Education Innovation

as founder of EdgeMakers, the first system for innovation learning

Trained in Psychiatry at Yale



in Innovation for Yamaha

Tony Nominated Producer

of theater and movies

Jazz Musician

Former apprentice to
rock legend Frank Zappa

Serial Entrepreneur

Innovation Advisor to the US Navy

Best Selling Author

The common thread is creativity — he can see things across industries that are in turmoil and because of that he’s got the ability to add value and bring fresh (smart) eyes to all kinds of business and social challenges.

Dubbed “Mr. Creativity” and “a serial innovator” by The Economist, John Kao is a leading authority on innovation, business creativity, organizational transformation and emerging technologies. John has been a trusted advisor to senior leaders of both public and private sector organizations. He has advised numerous countries including Finland and Singapore on their innovation strategies as well as leading firms such as Nike, Intel, and BASF.

Kao’s thought leadership is expressed in his books: Jamming: The Art and Discipline of Business Creativity, a BusinessWeek best-seller that has been published in a dozen languages; and Innovation Nation, which sounds the alarm about America’s growing innovation challenge. He has published three e-books: The Future is Yours to Invent, Are You a Producer?, and Clearing the Mind for Creativity.

John’s work has been profiled in major publications, including The Economist, Harvard Business Review and The New York Times. He has served in many prestigious membership and advisory roles:

Innovation Expert

Board Member – Bay Area Science and
Innovation Consortium
Senior Visiting Fellow at the Singapore Civil Service College
Member –  US China Innovation Dialogue sponsored by the White House and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology
Chairman – World Economic Forum’s Global Advisory Council on Innovation

I’ve been everywhere!

Member – Innovation Commission of
Cisco Systems
Honorary Vice President of Arts and
Business in the U.K.
Advisor to Sitra – Finland’s Innovation Agency
Advisor – TwoFour54 – Abu Dhabi’s Media City
Advisor – Clinton Global Initative
Fellow of the Royal Society of Art

John loves presenting his perspectives to audiences worldwide, whether in the form of keynote speeches, interactive dialogues, or immersive workshops. In 2012, Yamaha made him their first ever Artist in Innovation, and he delights in putting innovation on stage through the medium of improvised music as part of what he calls an “innovation concert.”

John is passionate about how leaders learn to innovate, and he’s taught extensively in both public and private sectors. As a professor at Harvard Business School from 1982-96, he created executive and MBA programs on innovation. His best-seller Jamming: The Art and Discipline of Business Creativity documents what jazz musicians could teach leaders about creativity and innovation. His book, Innovation Nation, published in October 2007, details America’s growing innovation challenge as global society evolves into an “innovation world.”

John is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor in emerging technology, and a Tony-nominated producer of film and stage. He was producer of the Broadway play, Golden Child, production executive on Sex, Lies and Videotape, and executive producer of Mr. Baseball. A jazz pianist at heart, he spent the summer of 1969 playing keyboards for rock legend Frank Zappa.

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