Lessons in Creativity from Duncan Wardle

At first glance, people may not view funeral service as creative or artistic work. When people think of funeral service, they may think of the procedures, the familiar ceremony, the burial or cremation, etc. Many funeral professionals are experts, but according to Duncan Wardle, “The single biggest barrier to innovation is your own expertise.”

This creates a challenge – how can funeral professionals use their expertise, but still showcase their creativity and innovation?

Duncan Wardle is the former Head of Innovation and Creativity for Walt Disney Company. Homesteaders was proud to sponsor him as the opening keynote speaker at the 2021 NFDA International Convention and Expo. He shared the lessons he learned during his 25 years of experience to show how funeral professionals can leverage their creativity, talents and resources to solve challenges in their markets.

Duncan’s journey with Disney began with him collating 50 press kits and getting six cappuccinos a day for his boss. During his tenure, he had the opportunity to work all over the world creating the most memorable experiences for Disney guests. He designed a framework for thinking outside the box and fostering creativity in the workplace.

As the competition among businesses has grown, companies started asking their employees to innovate and become more creative. Duncan saw a gap that needed to be filled – many people didn’t know how to be creative. “I actually believe that when it comes to the next decade, creativity and intuition will be our survival skills,” he shared. “I believe it is our core human truth that we are all creative, and it will be that creativity that comes to the forefront and allows us to survive in a world that will become ever more competitive.”

During his keynote address, Duncan discussed why he believes everyone has the ability to think creatively, shared case studies from his time at Disney and inspired funeral professionals to reframe their challenges and empower their own creativity.

“I’ve taken a design-thinking toolkit with everything I’ve learned working with Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Ideate and made innovation easy, creativity tangible and the process fun,” Duncan explained. “I want to give you the tools and skills to break through those barriers and become highly skilled in leading your organization with creative thinking that will drive results.”

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