Keynote speaking

Below is a chronicle of my experiences as a speaker within the fields of creativity and innovation.

I've collected a handful of recommendations for me as a keynote speaker on innovation:

”Arne has a deep understanding of customer-inspired innovation. He has an amazing ability to bring alive unique nuances in his characteristic genial manner.”

Ranjan Malik, Innovation Consultant and Speaker, Erehwon Innovation Consulting, India

”Arne Stjernholm Madsen is a rare find when it comes to Keynote Presenters because his presentation was completely customized to the audience to which I was marketing. Combine that with his truly creative approach - no lecturing here! - and you have the makings of a remarkable Keynote Session.”

Anthony Primavera, Online Content Manager, IIR USA

”As a committee member for the annual Danaher Conferences on Innovation I was in 2007 in charge of finding, screening and presenting to the other committee members a plenary speaker for the conference. Danaher Conferences on Innovation represents activities for approximately 70.000 associates world-wide. From several other endorsements and from my initial interview it was obvious for me to suggest Arne Stjernholm Madsen. The rest of the committee was very impressed of Arne’s in-depth understanding of all innovation aspects as well as how to help shaping the mindset of an entire organization to think innovative. This we asked Arne to share with us as plenary speaker, and his talk was of great inspiration to all and totally lived up to the committee’s expectations. Unfortunately Arne has set the bar so high now, so our next plenary speaker for 2008 will be difficult to find without going to compromise.”

Nicolas Boalth, Project Leader, R&D at Radiometer Medical


”Arne Stjernholm is a very inspiring and great presenter. He knows a lot about innovation at its different stages, he presents it in a lively and easy to understand manner, and you remember what he has talked about for a long time. He has a very pleasant personality and a broad international network and I can warmly recommend him.”

Pouline Middleton, Managing Director, Crossroads Copenhagen

”Having taken the opportunity to present and attend the 10th European Conference on Creativity and Innovation I had the pleasure of meeting Arne Stjernholm. It was only later that I learned that Arne was not only responsible for leading the extensive team of people involved in hosting the conference, a two year project in and of itself, but that he was also the keynote and closing speaker. Arne, through the use of excellent communications skills and a keen wit, opened the conference with a multi-media presentation that set the tone for the rest of the week. In addition to doing a fine job of outlining the details of the conference Arne proceeded to relate the rationale, strategy and direction for why this tenth anniversary conference was so important to the industry. He set the appropriate tone and balance for the week. Then, during the closing ceremonies Arne handed over the reigns of not only the conference but his role as the President of the organization like a elder statesman. Again, his wit and candor carried the day as he provided an emotional send off to the new organization and to those of us in attendance at the conference. I would recommend Arne as an exceptional key note speaker for any important conference.”

Dan Phillips, Sales Director AT&T Account Team, Alcatel-Lucent



October 2007: ECCI X

October 14-17, 2007, I chaired the 10th European Conference on Creativity & Innovation, ECCI X. We gathered 367 people from 40 countries around the globe. The conference was a "smashing success" according to a U.S. business executive, who participated all the way through the conference.

Beside is first a picture from my opening speech, followed by a picture from the closing ceremony.





March 2007: Danaher Conference on Innovation

End of March 2007, I joined the Danaher Innovation Conference as the only external plenary speaker. Danaher is a large corporation, counting 45.000 employees in a number of companies in different industries, including the Danish Radiometer Medical. My keynote was called "Innovation as a mindset in the organization", and it was structured around three key messages:

  • Innovation is a way of breathing, it’s a mindset …and it’s for everyone, not just R&D
  • Innovation culture can be build up, systematically …using the High Involvement Innovation approach, stepwise development
  • Radical innovation requires alternative setups – management systems and organizational setup should be geared to focus on new ways of thinking.







March 2007: American Creativity Association

I attended the annual American Creativity Association conference, March 21-23 in Austin. Instead of a classic presentation, I held a small workshop called "Kafka Circle". It was an in-depth conversation around a short text by Franz Kafka, called "Before the Law". Beside is the program text on my workshop and a couple of pictures.





Kafka Circle - Revealing the Gatekeepers of Mind
This session is a quiet, reflective dialogue, centered on a short text by Franz Kafka. The text, called “Before The Law”, is odd or mysterious. Participants read the text individually. Then Arne gives a short intro on Franz Kafka. Next, Arne will start asking questions, and the dialogue unfolds, revealing individual interpretations of the text. This text is as an inspiring tool for a conversation on boundaries for innovation adventures in a corporate setting, or on boundaries for personal development and creativity. The point is that we all carry some inner gatekeepers – becoming aware of this may encourage new adventures."



June 2006: India Innovation Summit

I was invited to speak at the second "India Innovation Summit" in Bangalore, June 16-17 2006. The conference was arranged by Confederation of Indian Industry and gathered some 350 participants. I spoke on user-centered innovation, based on my work at Novo Nordisk.
There is a growing self-confidence within the Indian industry, partly as a consequence of large economical liberalizations. Innovation is seen as a natural part of the force, which shall enable India to compete with the industrial world, not only on cheap services, but also - on innovation.
After the conference I got a spontaneous invitation to speak at the Bangalore Business Academy. App. 70 students showed up this Sunday afternoon at 17.30 after a long working day, starting around 7.30 in the morning - having a seven-days working week! This shows the energy, the Indians put into their efforts, and they surely will compete us out - resulting in a more just distribution of wealth on Earth.





Innovation in India is different - often it's a matter of helping very poor people, which this religious leader is talking about.

In the hotel park, large bats were eating the dates of the palm trees. 


Here I'm speaking at the Bangalore Business Academy.


June 2005: International Society for Professional Innovation Management (ISPIM)

June 2005 I attended ISPIM for the first time. Here is a concentrated introduction to my own paper, called "Domain Knowledge as a Barrier for Innovation" (see also Articles):

"This article describes the problem that domain knowledge on the one side is prerequisite to innovation, but on the other side can hinder breakthrough thinking, because the "vocabulary" of solutions is constrained by experiences of the past. The problem is illustrated with a case from business development. As a framework for attacking the problem a model is suggested, "The four C's of innovation", lining out the spheres of Context, Culture, Capabilities & Consciousness. Strategies for coping with the problem are proposed within each of the four C's. These strategies call for a balancing act; building on the core competencies of the company and at the same time disrupting this domain knowledge in order to open up for new thinking."





Here I speak at ISPIM 2005.


April 2004: American Creativity Association's annual conference,
"THINK TANK 2004 - Recreating Creativity", Houston

I gave a presentation titled "Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall..." on the challenges,
mature organizations face when trying to revitalize their drive for innovation.

The famous control center at the Johnson Space Center


Here I present at ACA April 1st, 2004


May 2003: ASTD international conference, in San Diego

I spoke on "How to turn end-user understanding into innovation".
My speech comprised both an overview of models and theories within the field of customer-inspired innovation and also my own experiences from using and developing such methods.




 Here I speak at ASTD in San Diego - 


- one of the attendees immediately grabbed the tools and tried them out...


March 2003 American Creativity Association's annual conference in Philadelphia

I spoke on the subject "Opening the organizational consciousness for the future". This is about the mental barriers for innovation and the role of organizational consciousness or mental models - a subject, I've been interested in for years - but also a very abstract subject. However, I tried to link it to hands-on innovation management, inspired by sources like Foster & Kaplan: Creative Destruction, David Tanner: Total Creativity and Richard Leifer: Radical Innovation, as well as my own practice. Below the photos you'll read the program text for my speech. I'll try to write an article on the topic later this year.




"The biggest barrier for breakthrough creativity seems to be the organizational mindset. In every company strategies, competencies, culture, structure and processes all together form a paradigm of ways of thinking. Creativity means challenging this established paradigm, and the most profound barrier perhaps is that ideas conceived outside the boarders of the existing paradigm simply make no sense - seen with eyes of the established mindset. They are, so to speak, in the "blind spots" of consciousness. But how do we open the eyes of the organization?"

 Here I speak at ACA 2003 


Here I am with Bea & Sid Parnes, who founded
Creative Problem Solving together with Alex Osborn


January 2002: Conference in Copenhagen on "Innovation in product development"

I was the chairman of the conference and spoke about "Strategic Innovation as a management discipline".



September 10-11, 200. (Yes, 9-11!):
Conference by the Danish Technological Institute on "Development of intelligent products"

I spoke on "The great challenge - to think out an intelligent product", and afterwards I conducted a workshop by use of "the Hansen Family".




April 2001: Speaking at the annual conference of the American Creativity Association

I was invited to speak at the annual ACA conference, which took place in St. Paul, Minnesota. The theme of the 2001 conference was "Creative Odyssey". My speech had the title "Understanding the End User Drives Strategic Innovation", and it was based on an article with the same title, which was published in Journal of Innovative Management.
At the same time, I was invited to speak at the 3M headquarters in St. Paul. Actually I spent a whole day there invited by Kim Johnson, who coordinated the so-called 3M "GRIT" (Grass Roots Innovation Team).
Since Stephen Lundin (known from the FISH! videos and the book) lives in St. Paul, I took the opportunity to visit him as well.





At the ACA conference I got the opportunity to meet one of my gurus, David Tanner, author of "Total Creativity in Business and Industry".

3M's Innovation Center i St. Paul.




- and speaking at the ACA's conference.


March 2000: Innovation Network's conference in San DiegO

March 27-30, I participated in Innovation Network's yearly "Convergence" conference, which this time had the subtitle "Odyssey into Innovation". I gave a so-called "Innovation Blitz Story". The title of my speech was re-used from my speech in Arizona: "Strategic Innovation - To dare to think with the heart", but since I had only17 minutes for the "success capsule", I focused strongly on the innovation case story, which lead to the ScreenFridge communication concept. I also held a "Show & Tell" evening session, where I could go beyond the case story and deal with the innovation philosophy behind it. I liked very much both to participate and to share my experiences and theories as a speaker. Here are some pictures from the conference.





I had illustrated my story with posters.

Cool, baby...


Steve Lundin (FISH).


Closing the conference.


November 1999: "Strategic Innovation: Inspiration, Action & Results", Arizona

I attended the conference "Strategic Innovation: Inspiration, Action & Results", arranged by IIR and Strategic Leadership Forum, in Scottsdale, Arizona. In fact, I was one of two keynote speakers - the other was George Land. My speech was called "Strategic Innovation: To dare to think with the heart", and the content was divided into 3 parts:
  • Encircling of the principles of Strategic Innovation as a discipline
  • Discussion of the need for personal courage and subjectivity
  • A case story from Ericsson Denmark.




I got a lot of positive response to my speech. Here are a couple quotations from some of the emails that I have received after the conference:
"I thought your presentation at the conference, "Dare to Think With the Heart" was brilliant! And the graphic that brought the point home was the inverted triangles! Congratulations! I think it was the most original presentation at the conference!"
"I really enjoyed your talk and perspective on Strategic Innovation with a Heart."


Arne Stjernholm Madsen
Skolegade 9,, DK-2500 Valby, Copenhagen, Denmark
Tel +45 30 45 43 93