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Keynote Speeches

Active Learning for Large Groups

David Robertson's specialty is engaging audiences with interactive, engaging speeches. Robertson's speeches always involve some activity or giveaway - during the speech the audience will be given a LEGO building challenge, a card game, an online poll, or some other activity that will keep them involved, entertained, and buzzing with ideas.

Watch David's speech at PopTech

David gave what NPR’s Joe Palca called “The best speech at PopTech”.  Click on the video to see an excerpt.

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Featured Topics

Transformational Leadership

Leading company transformations is hard, no matter when it happens.  Most stories of transformational leadership focus on a leader who takes charge in the midst of a crisis, but that’s when it’s easiest to get attention and support for changes.  But what do you do when you see the need for change before there’s a crisis?  How do you lead a transformation when things are going well?

In this speech Robertson uses examples from companies as diverse as Gatorade, USAA, Valve, and Apopo.org (a nonprofit charity that trains rats to sniff out land mines) to illustrate how great leaders make change happen before there’s a crisis.  Using specific examples to illustrate his framework, he lays out a step-by-step guide for transforming your organization.

Innovation Management – The LEGO Story

Managers are bombarded with dozens of theories for how to manage innovation. These theories all promise growth and profits, but the actual results are less positive. Using the case study of LEGO, this session will explore how to manage innovation across a company. In 2003, LEGO almost went bankrupt. LEGO’s managers had followed the advice of experts – “head for blue ocean”, “practice disruptive innovation”, “open innovation”, “develop the full spectrum of innovation” – and that advice almost led them to ruin.

In one of the most successful turnarounds in modern business history, LEGO restructured its innovation management system and saved the company. Today, LEGO is the most profitable and fastest growing company in the toy industry, growing sales at 24% and profits at 45% per year every year for the past four years. The goal of this session is tell the LEGO story and the lessons to be learned about how to lead and govern innovation across a large company.

The Third Way to Innovate – Innovating Around the Core

Much of the business press focuses on big, world-changing innovations—innovations that will “disrupt” industries, lead companies to “blue oceans,” and revolutionize markets. But CarMax, LEGO, ING Direct, and others show that there’s a different, lower-risk path to innovation success.

Instead of betting big on risky, unproven ideas, these companies put together portfolios of tightly coordinated complementary innovations. Individually, each innovation is low risk and (often) low cost.

But if done well they add up to a significant and sustainable competitive advantage. In this talk, Robertson will show how leading companies use this powerful innovation strategy and share the techniques and disciplines that any company can adopt to boost their innovation success

The Innovation Leader's First 90 Days

Leading innovation is a difficult job.  And while most of the success or failure of a new innovation project is determined in the first 90 days, early mistakes often don’t reveal themselves until much later.  What can new innovation leaders – be they Product Managers, Chief Innovation Officers, or VPs of Innovation – do in their first 90 days on the job to ensure success?

Innovation Speaking Testimonials

""A real high point for our congress""

Christopher Beattie
Merck Animal Health

“I’d seen David present before at an international business conference and when we were planning our Congress with innovation as the main theme, he immediately came to mind as our first-choice keynote speaker. Outside of the compelling background story of Lego’s innovation journey and the faultless delivery of his presentation, I was most impressed by how David actively contributed to our planning process and coordinated our (Lego-themed) innovation workshop. Enthusiastic and approachable, great to see a speaker so ready to immerse themselves in our event and engage with delegates outside of the meeting room. His contribution was a real high point for our congress.”

"He entertained the audience with one of the best-received presentations of the conference"

Brad Barbera
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PDMA, The Product Development and Management Association

“David’s keynote presentation at the PDMA AnnualGlobal Conference was truly a high point of the event.He literally woke everyone up to re-imagine how to apply the innovation dicta that we have heard before. Not only was his insight and content rich, he entertained the audience with one of the best-received presentations of the conference.”

"David Brings Clarity To An Often Ambiguous And Complex Discussion"

Anders Wester
Tetra Pak

“David’s presentation here at Tetra Pak was very much appreciated by both Tetra Pak and Nokia. David brings clarity to an often ambiguous and complex discussion.”

"A Great Contribution"

The PDS Team

“Thank you for speaking at PDS Connect 2017.  Your presentation really enhanced our theme and was a great contribution to the conference.”

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