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Natalie Nixon | Lessons from GreatPHL

“Create like your life depends on it – because it does.”

Natalie is an innovator and a scholar of design strategy, hybrid thinking, and the principle of Figure 8 Thinking. She was the creator of the Strategic Design MBA at Philadelphia University and has a PhD in Design Management from the University of Westminster, London. In 2015 she published Strategic Design Thinking: Innovation in Products, Services, Experiences and Beyond. Natalie discusses Wonder Rigor, a concept that teaches balance and creativity in business.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Augmented reality, virtual reality, AI, cryptocurrency, the Cloud – We are unarguably becoming more tethered to technology through these and other inventions. This can spark either excitement, as Natalie has seen in many parts of the world, or anxiety at the thought of chips being implanted into human bodies. For those who strongly value freedom and privacy, the 4th IR can seem unnerving.

For this reason, Natalie cites what is often referred to as the ‘human quotient’ as an important element in the 4th IR. Trust, values, and empathy must play a role if we are to be comfortable and happy in such a digitally-dominated age. This means that emotional intelligence and ‘soft skills’ are more critical than ever in the modern workplace and in our day-to-day lives.


“To be human is to be hardwired to be creative.” We need to “navigate and manage complexity with complexity.”

This means building organizations that deal with both order and chaos – both structure and randomness. These kind of systems are holistic and can be found in many efficient structures – from the human body to the Amazon jungle.

Natalie uses dance as a prime example of how this kind of dualistic system yields profoundly successful results. Dancers use both intuition and discipline, structure and creativity to make beautiful performances.

“Rigor cannot be sustained without wonder. Wonder is about daydreaming, and pretending, and awe.”

In the midst of our hard work and discipline, wonder sneaks in and provides new and better ideas to fuel our productivity. In this sense, wonder sustains our businesses.

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An amazing group of Philadelphians came together to make GreatPHL a huge success! A true ideas festival that highlighted our city and inspired thought-provoking action. Stay tuned for more events presented by Kismet Cowork.