Mathew Chow of IDEO gives a thought provoking lecture about initiating change both small and big.

Mathew is a Design Lead at IDEO San Francisco. Throughout his career, he has designed the conditions to provoke positive, large-scale change in complex human networks.

He currently focuses on seeing organizations through a human-centered lens to help them build the capabilities required to foster creativity and innovation.

About the speaker

Ticket lottery registration will open Friday February 19th, 2016 at 11am. See below for details.

Mathew is a Design Lead at IDEO San Francisco. Throughout his career, he has designed the conditions to provoke positive, large-scale change in complex human networks.

He currently focuses on seeing organizations through a human-centered lens to help them build the capabilities required to foster creativity and innovation.

But Mathew’s life and career are perhaps best summarized in an email that his dad wrote after his MBA graduation. It was the day before his first day at IDEO.


Hi Mathew,

It is late, mum and I just got back home [to Vancouver]. What a journey! but so worthed to see you graduate! We enjoyed visiting you!

We are very proud of you Mathew. I know it is a big deal to change careers after only working on cities and buildings but we think you will be happy in San Francisco because it is like Vancouver and has a lot of Chinese food.

I was so surprised that New England is like England. It is close to the ocean but it does not feel close to the ocean. Since you were a baby you have always needed to be by the ocean and the mountains. You would cry otherwise. You belong on the west coast. We missed you when you lived in so many far away places [Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi] so it is good that you will move closer to home.

Mathew I know it was difficult for you to let go of your dream job at Masdar several years ago. You care a lot about the environment and you love cities and technology and automatic [self-driving] cars and new ideas in general but that company was troubled. I don’t really understand what IDEO does but it seems maybe creative and I think you will like that. Do you think its funny that it sounds just like your last company ADIA? Hopefully your financial skills will come in handy. At least it should help you save money or buy a house one day. And you will not have to wear a suit and tie every day and travel to rough parts of China and India so much. What will you do with all those ties?

And you will be consulting for companies? They are not that different than cities Mathew. Constantly changing and full of people and parts that need attention. Maybe you can help a company like Masdar sometime.

Make sure you eat fresh vegetables and call your mum.

Love Dad


Mathew was 30 years old at the time of that email.

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career? creativity graphic

Where do you find your best creative inspiration? I flip through at least a few pages of Jane Fulton Siri’s Thoughtless Acts nearly every day and remind myself to see the world through an inspirable lens. The rest is up to serendipity.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person? Designing your path through life can be its own creative endeavour.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings? David Suzuki

What fact about you would surprise people? I once wore a suit to work every day.

What was the best advice you were ever given? “Just nerd out on whatever weird things interest you.”

What’s the most recent thing you learned (big or small)? The ‘like’ button on Facebook is clicked over 6 billion times per day. That’s more than the amount of Google searches in a day.

Where is your favourite place to escape? The Liwa Desert, United Arab Emirates

What books made a difference in your life and why? Change by Design. It taught me that anything can be designed. Even change.

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