Three illustrated heads with icons and paint smears showing the human capacity for creative confidence
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SECI Model

The SECI model illustrates how knowledge is created and shared. Learn how to put it to use for best practices, and how the Japanese concept of “ba” fits in to broaden your perspective.

Johari Window Model

The Johari Window Model is a self-awareness framework that helps you better understand . . . you. Learn how its four quadrants can help you identify gaps between how you see yourself, and how others see you.

Sunk Costs

Wondering if you should continue an investment or look for something new? Sunk costs can have a powerful psychological impact on decision-making. Learn how to recognize them to ensure rational decisions.

CAGE Distance Framework

Want to expand overseas? The CAGE distance framework can help ensure you're constructing a solid global strategy in four areas: cultural, administrative, economic, and geographic. Learn how to leverage useful differences between countries, identify potential obstacles, and achieve global business success.

Groupthink

Groupthink refers to group pressure and the perception of consensus which together lead to ill-formed decisions—or even unnecessary risks. Learn to identify the warning signs of groupthink and apply countermeasures in this online course.

Deductive and Inductive Reasoning

Solving problems with the best results means using two types of thinking: deductive and inductive reasoning. In this online course, learn to form a broad premise, make observations, and form conclusions from different perspectives.

Critical Thinking: Hypothesis-Driven Thinking

Anyone can come up with a good idea. The real challenge is putting that idea into action. In this online course, explore how to form compelling, testable hypotheses and bring ideas to life in your own organization.

Critical Thinking: Structured Reasoning

Even a few simple techniques for logical decision making and persuasion can vastly improve your skills as a leader. Explore how critical thinking can help you evaluate complex business problems, reduce bias, and devise effective solutions.

Critical Thinking: Problem-Solving

Problem-solving is a central business skill, and yet it's the one many people struggle with most. This course will show you how to apply critical thinking techniques to common business examples, avoid misunderstandings, and get at the root of any problem.

How to Dream

Join globally renowned author and Columbia Business School professor Dr. Sheena Iyengar as she explains how to approach your dreams with a new perspective. Learn to reflect on what you long to accomplish and what stands in your way.

Logical Thinking

Logical thinking is at the heart of confident, persuasive decisions. This course will equip you with a five-point approach to more becoming a more logical thinker. Learn to classify ideas and distinguish fact from opinion.

Investing & Diversity: The Changing Faces of Venture Capitalists

Is the venture capital industry embracing diversity in investors? Watch global venture capitalists from around the world discuss the state of things and what needs to be done for a more inclusive future.

Servant Leadership

There's more to leadership than driving a team to profit. In fact, there's a word for looking beyond self-interest to prioritize individual growth: servant leadership. Try this course for a quick breakdown of what that is, how it works, and how it can lead to organizational success.

Organizational Behavior and Leadership

Ever wonder what makes a great leader? Whether your role requires leadership or not, understanding organizational behavior is useful for your career. This course from GLOBIS Unlimited can set you on your way.

Leadership vs. Management

Leadership and management are different skills, but today’s leaders must have both. Try out this course from GLOBIS Unlimited to understand the difference, as well as when and why each skill is necessary for motivation, communication, and value.

Strategy: Creating Value Inside Your Company

Have you ever wondered why certain companies are more successful than others? The answer is strategy: internal processes that control costs, allocate resources, and create value. This course from GLOBIS Unlimited can give you the tools you need for that strategic edge.

Strategy: Understanding the External Environment

To plan strategy on any level, you need to understand your company's external environment. In fact, your level of understanding can impact hiring, budgeting, marketing, or nearly any other part of the business world. Want to learn how to do all that? This course from GLOBIS Unlimited is the perfect first step!

Using Japanese Values to Thrive in Global Business

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Turnaround Leadership: The Differences Between Japan and the West

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Conflict Management

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Evernote Founder: How Tech Startups Can Break through in Japan

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Women Empowerment: Lessons from Cartier

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Marketing: Reaching Your Target

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Marketing Mix

Seeing good products into the hands of customers is no easy task. The marketing mix can help. It's a collection of strategies and tactics companies utilize to get customers to purchase their products or services, and is an essential part of the overall marketing process.

The Principles of Negotiation

With the proper skills and attitude, anyone can become a successful negotiator.  But first, you'll need to learn the basics to prepare for, assess, and respond to offers for the best results. GLOBIS Unlimited can help.

Negotiation: Creating Value

Want to create more shared value between yourself and your negotiation opponent? Discover how cognitive bias affects the judgment of others. Try this course from GLOBIS Unlimited to master the value of negotiation.

Finding Your Life Purpose with Ikigai

Ikigai can guide you in your quest for self-discovery. Listen to Japanese brain scientist Ken Mogi explain why and how.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Want to leverage Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as a leader? Try this short course to see how the theory can be applied in practical work scenarios.

Confirmation Bias

We all subconsciously collect information that reinforces our preconceptions. It's natural . . . but it does lead to a kind of flawed decision-making called confirmation bias. To become more objective and impartial, check out this course from GLOBIS Unlimited!

An Investor's Lesson to Entrepreneurs

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Managerial Accounting

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Finance Basics: 1

For a healthy mix of quantitative planning, evaluation, and management, you need solid decision-making. And finance is the secret sauce! Get the essentials of finance in this two-part course from GLOBIS Unlimited.

Basic Accounting: Financial Analysis

Want to compare your performance vs. a competitor? Or evaluate a potential vendor? Then you'll need to conduct a financial analysis. This course will teach you how to use three financial statements and evaluate financial performance in terms of profitability, efficiency, soundness, growth, and overall strength.

Career Anchors

What drives you to be good at your job?

Career anchors are based on your values, desires, motivations, and abilities. They are the immovable parts of your professional self-image that guide you throughout your career journey.

Try this short GLOBIS Unlimited course to identify which of the eight career anchors is yours!

Digital Marketing Psychology to Transform Your Business

How does digital marketing really differ from traditional marketing? How is social media changing things really? And what's going on in Asia?

Pyramid Structure

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Leadership with Passion through Kokorozashi

The key ingredient to success? Passion.

Finding your kokorozashi will unify your passions and skills to create positive change in society. This GLOBIS Unlimited course will help you develop the values and lifelong goals you need to become a strong, passion-driven leader.

AI First Companies – Implementation and Impact

AI is changing the way companies operate. How do you structure teams to increase efficiency?

Technovate in the Era of Industry 4.0

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Technovate Thinking

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Product Life Cycle

Every product takes a natural course through the market—there's a how, when, and why customers adopt products at different stages. Check out this course from GLOBIS Unlimited to find out how a product you use every day is part of this cycle.

Logic Tree

Logical thinking is the most valuable asset any business professional can have. That's why logic trees are such a valuable tool—they can help you identify a problem, break it down, and build it back up to a solution.

MECE Principle

Using the MECE principle can help ensure you categorize without gaps or overlaps. Check out this course from GLOBIS Unlimited for a practical demonstration of how it works!

To get a startup off the ground, you need a few fundamental things: capital, a trusted cofounder or two, and a big idea. But to really make it, you’ll also need a key ingredient you may not know how to name: creative confidence.

Tom Kelley, cofounder and chairman of venture capital firm D4V (Design for Ventures) and partner at design firm IDEO, recently spoke about creative confidence at the GLOBIS USA launch event. Creative confidence, he says, is more than having the confidence to be creative. Rather, it’s a concept of two parts: the natural human ability to come up with a new idea and the courage to act.

Creative confidence is what enabled Steve Jobs, say, to conjure the iPod in his mind, push his engineers to build it, and effectively communicate its value to customers around the world.

That all sounds great (what founder doesn’t want Jobs-level success for their startup?), but how do you actually put that human ability and courage into practice? What do you do differently when your startup team, no matter how big or small, sits down to make decisions?

For that, Kelley has three proactive steps you can take to unlock creative confidence for your startup:

  1. Engage design thinking
  2. Experiment and pivot
  3. Paint a picture of the future

Next Article

How to Think Outside the Box Like an IDEO Designer

It used to be that crises came about every thirty years, then every 20 years . . . They seem like they come about every three years now. So hold onto all of those things that you learn.
Man holding an open box with colorful arrows pointing out the top, drawn on blackboard

Steve Jobs, Zen, and Design Thinking

Design thinking is a skill modern leaders must have. Without it, we can’t harness the ancient power of Zen.

Engage design thinking before the problem-solving begins.

According to Tim Brown, executive chair of IDEO, “Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”

People often think of design thinking as a problem-solving tool, but Kelley emphasizes that you can (even should) apply design thinking before a problem is even on the table. “Most of my clients are very, very good at problem-solving,” he says. “But you’ve got to know what problem to solve. If you take the empathy of design thinking and use it all the time, you will spot the problem that others aren’t trying to solve yet.”

In other words, design thinking paired with empathy gives you a competitive edge.

As a case in point, Kelley talks about pill sorters—those long, plastic containers into which people manually sort their daily medications. While this may seem like a simple solution to a common need, consider this: The elderly often take over a dozen pills a day, and accidentally dropping the wrong pill into the wrong day could prove deadly. An IDEO-incubated startup called PillPack solved this problem by first empathizing with the need, then creating an online pharmacy that sends individual packets of daily pills, eliminating the need for manual sorting.

“We wrestled with a lot of complexity to deliver this simplicity.”

TJ Parker, PillPack CEO

The Trick to Creative Confidence in Design Thinking

Design thinking has a proven place in the business world. Once you get used to using it as an entrepreneur, you’ll wonder how you ever innovated without it. A designer’s approach to problem-solving can reveal solutions that were right in front of you all along—the solution PillPack applied was simplicity itself.

But before you rush off to capitalize on simplicity, remember this: Creating simplicity or solving problems is not, in itself, simple. Remember that empathy should be the driving force behind design thinking, not simplicity.

Demo of PillPack's app and product during Tom Kelley's lecture for the GLOBIS USA launch event on creative confidence
Tom Kelley (top right) explains the brilliance of PillPack’s simplicity earned through empathy. | ©GLOBIS

Experiment and pivot at the pace of change.

The greatest power of a startup is adaptability. Though you may feel like a small fish in a sea of ancient sharks, the small size of a startup allows for exponentially faster economy of speed.

Take advantage of that—experiment and pivot.

Experiment with rapid prototyping.

Kelley says every startup with a focus on speed should be constantly asking one question: “What’s the quickest, cheapest way we can experiment with an idea and move it forward?”

He cites James Dyson, the famed innovator of the dual cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner, as a model for persistent, rapid prototyping. Dyson did, after all, go through 5,127 prototypes over five years before hitting on a winner in the early 80s. That persistence led to a personal net worth in 2022 of USD$9.5 billion, a home appliance empire, and a knighthood.

The Trick to Effective Experimentation

Dyson’s story isn’t just about persistence—it’s about educating yourself as you grow. Every prototype is a learning opportunity. Focus too much on the next, and you can easily forget what you learned from the last.

So as you burn through that rapid prototyping process, be sure to embrace the mantra to never stop learning.

“When the market is telling you to do something else, you have to be willing to change—and change rapidly.”

Tom Kelley, Chairman & Cofounder of D4V (Design for Ventures)

Pivot when the market tells you no.

Experimentation and self-confidence will never be enough if your company isn’t meeting a customer need. Kelley emphasizes, with great enthusiasm and a little awe, that when the product-market fit is bad, startup founders have the unique ability to pivot their whole company fast.

Your size (or lack thereof) becomes a superpower.

For a prime example of a full-company pivot, look no further than online payment service PayPal. PayPal started in 1998 with a plan to offer encryption for mobile services. It then moved to mobile financial transactions, then to transactions via Palm Pilots, and finally landed on an e-mail-based payment system. All of those pivots happened in just fifteen months, and all of them were reactions to a product-market fit (or, again, lack thereof).

Now, many years later, PayPal is worth over USD$300 billion.

The Trick to Leading Innovation through Pivoting

It can be hard to admit your first instincts were wrong, no matter how loud the market says so. But with the need to change course comes a great opportunity. After all, as a leader, the way you manage tough decisions is a demonstration of character.

That’s a demo every investor wants to see.

Investors seek out startups with enough conviction in their idea that they’re able to put users first and pivot, bending to market needs without breaking. “At D4V,” says Kelley, “we have, a couple of times, made investments where we weren’t positive about the first product. But we were so sure that the team would pivot well that we made the investment.”

Tom Kelley on creative confidence: "Paint a picture of the future with your idea in it."
©GLOBIS

Paint a picture of the future with your idea in it.

When faced with adversity and deciding not to pivot, you have two choices: give up, or find a way to paint a picture others can see.

Kelley’s go-to example here is a vertical farming company called Plenty. When Plenty was getting started, it focused on explaining the many benefits of vertical farming, including economy of space. To convey that value, the founders provided this mental image: If a traditional farm were the size of a soccer field, a vertical farm would need only the goal area.

That image proved far more impactful than numerical calculations of acreage and output.

The Trick to Painting a Picture with Storytelling

To get started on that relatable mental picture, Kelley says you should ask yourself, “What is the story about my product that will carry it forward?”

Keep in mind that your story need not be a sweeping epic. The best, most memorable storytelling is short and simple. Practice that elevator pitch. If you catch the right person’s interest in as little as a minute, you can change your whole future.

“In less than a minute,” recalls Kelley, “I met a Japanese woman at a bus stop. I married that woman. So I strongly believe that a minute can change your life.”

The art of innovation is the art of creative confidence.

Creative confidence isn’t just about finding a way to express yourself or think more innovatively. It’s about helping the world do something better. Whether that means reimagining the way the elderly organize their daily meds or spreading the value of vertical farming, the possibilities for impact-driven startups are endless.

For the best results, leverage design thinking, embrace experimentation and pivoting, and paint your vision in colors the whole world can see.

Most of all, never doubt that unlocking your natural human ability for creative confidence and having the courage to act can help you do better, both for yourself and for the world.

Of course you can do better,” says Kelley. “Once you start solving the problem.”

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