At the Baldrige Program's upcoming, 34th Quest for Excellence Conference, Duncan Wardle will draw on his experience as founder of ID8 and former head of innovation and creativity at The Walt Disney Company to explore innovation in a presentation titled “Embedding Innovation into Everyone’s DNA.”
Said Wardle, "We ask our teams to innovate, think different, take risks, and be brave, but no one is showing us how!"
Leaning on his experience, Wardle said, “I created a series of tools that help embed innovation into everyone’s DNA, making the process easy, tangible, and fun. I look forward to sharing a toolkit with everyone at the NIST event on April 3.”
Using a unique approach to “design thinking”—helping people capture unlikely connections, leading to fresh thinking and disruptive ideas—Wardle plans to incorporate a flipchart and some real-time learning to actively engage the Quest audience. According to Wardle, design thinking places the end user at the core of the creative thinking process and asks him or her to look in new and usual places to uncover insights for innovation.
Wardle, who says he “loves audacious projects,” believes that his innovation toolkit will help companies embed a culture of innovation.
“Many organizations want to innovate, but no one has made it tangible for them,” he said. He added,
“You have to have a belief that you can do things. And I believe that most people believe they can. It entails giving them something tangible that they can use that enables that imagination, that creativity, those ideas to actually have purpose and build and create something . . . to help shift the business.”
A focus on success and innovation is a core value and concept found in high-performing organizations and foundational to the 2023-2024 Baldrige Excellence Framework®. Wardle’s keynote aims to align with that notion of “igniting a culture of innovation and creativity in your company.”
As head of innovation and creativity at Disney, Wardle worked with teams at Disney Parks, Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar, Imagineering, and Animation to innovate, creating new storylines and experiences for consumers around the globe. Wardle is a multiple Tedx speaker and frequent contributor to Fast Company Magazine, Harvard Business Review, and Forbes. He teaches innovation and creativity master classes at Yale and Harvard University. Duncan holds the American Citizen Award presented at the White House; an honorary doctorate from Edinburgh University; and the Duke of Edinburgh Award, presented by the late Queen Elizabeth.
Learn more about Duncan Wardle.
The conference will feature new and exciting opportunities to learn role model best practices from nationally recognized thought leaders, former Award recipients, and representatives from other high-performing organizations. Conference highlights include an Innovation Plenary session, featuring five Award recipient senior leaders, numerous concurrent sessions and networking opportunities, a plenary session featuring the Communities of Excellence 2026, and more.