Is there creative power in paradox?

Dr. Wendy Smith

Could those moments where uncertainty or contradictions exist foster creativity? Dr. Wendy Smith will share how dilemmas and paradoxes can create the conditions for creativity and innovation and how this exists in all our lives.

Learn about this Garden Talk

Back in the early 2000s, Dr. Wendy Smith was studying innovation at IBM, the tech giant that was at the forefront of the internet and cloud computing revolution. She noticed that some of the leaders there were good at handling the inherent tensions that are at the heart of every business. Those people who could integrate short term goals of the company (profits now) with the long term needs of the business (investing in innovation) were the most successful.

This led her to start to explore how organisations and people manage the constant tensions and contradictions that exist in our lives. She concluded that paradoxes are everywhere and that rather than creating inertia, paradoxes can foster a creative tension that leads to innovation.

Through her work, Wendy has developed the idea of a Paradox Mindset which involves 'Both/And' thinking, which anyone can adopt to increase their ability to innovate. In this Garden Talk, Wendy will share how paradoxes are the bedrock of our world and that by bringing together opposing ideas and opening up space for possibility, creative outcomes can emerge. Could it be that constraints are good thing for creativity?

Talk outline


50 minutes

What to expect

30 minute talk

20 minute Member Q&A

About the Fellow

Dr. Wendy Smith

Wendy Smith is an acclaimed researcher on organizational behaviour and a world expert on how paradoxes, uncertainty and creative tension can lead to innovation.

Creativity Unlocked Collection

Human ingenuity and inventiveness has continually moved our world forward. From beautiful art works to works of literature, space shuttles to scientific leaps forward, at the heart of progress and change is a spark of creativity.