Hit the high notes: Lessons on business innovation from soprano singer Tania de Jong

Caitlin Fitzsimmons Online editor

Hit the high notes: Lessons on business innovation from soprano singer Tania de Jong

Published 26 November 2013 11:28, Updated 26 November 2013 16:02

In this world of rapid change and cut-throat competition, all businesses need to innovate. The problem is that it is easier said than done. Soprano singer Tania de Jong is both executive producer and keynote speaker at this week’s Creative Innovation conference in Melbourne. She is also founder of Creative Universe and social enterprise Creativity Australia. Tania de Jong believes creativity and the arts don’t always go together. Here are de Jong’s tips for how business can foster creativity and innovation.1. Embrace diversity

“The key to innovation in Australia is fostering positive human collisions where we bring together the most diverse array of people possible, both at board level and throughout the organisation. It’s very important to have gender diversity but it’s just as important to have cultural diversity and generational diversity. All the work I do is about breaking down silos.”

2. Give people freedom

“Being given permission to fail is a definite key [to creativity] and to enabling people to think outside the box. [When] we keep people within very stringent guidelines and in very constrained environments, it doesn’t give them the time and the space to think of new things. Companies like Google famously have their 20 per cent time where they give their employees time to work on their own projects, and Atlassian does similar things. Organisations with that culture have incredible results because people feel like their voice is heard.”

3. Sing (or play) together

“Neuroscience shows our brain chemistry changes when we sing with one another as human beings – I’m doing a talk on that at TEDxMelbourne. For example, when it comes to strategic planning, people tend to use the same strategic plan from three years ago and just modify the figures. But when you get people into their right-brain head space and spark their imagination, they might not go back to that same plan or they might modify it significantly. There are other ways of doing it [besides singing] – when people go into nature it often opens up their creativity. Meditation is great, even juggling.”

4. Think of creativity differently

“Not all singers are creative and lots of people who are highly creative don’t necessarily excel in the arts. We need to conceive of creativity in a broader way and not think that creativity is just something for artists because there are many artists who are more limited in their thinking than others. Being a singer and a performer has, however, given me an idea that we’re all connected and that everyone has a voice. My mission is to inspire people to find their voice. I don’t just mean their singing voice but their voice in life; it’s symbolic of who we are.”

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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