Great minds don't think alike.

The importance of innovation and creativity pervades every conversation about the future of business, government, and the social sector. Artists are starting software companies, launching B Corporations, and working on all the important social issues of our time: immigration, race, criminal justice reform, climate change, and more.

Emergence worked with Upstart Co-Lab to interview over 20 thought leaders and artist innovators ranging from scientists and CEOs to artists such as Yo-Yo Ma. We combined the insights from this work into a comprehensive report and op-ed.


There has been growing recognition that cognitive diversity—differences in perception, judgment, and thinking style—is essential to maximizing the efficiency and problem-solving capacity of teams. In parallel, leaders across all fields have signaled that creativity—original ideas that are effective and useful—is the single most important factor for success.

A survey of employers found that 97% believe creativity is of increasing importance, yet 85% have difficulty finding qualified applications when filling creative positions.


he report, “Great Minds Don’t Think Alike: Artists as innovators in business, government, and society”, defines artist innovators as artists who work outside the studio, the theater, and the concert hall to bring their distinctive talents and skills into business, government, and the social sector. The report includes insights from individual interviews with prominent artist innovators such as cellist Yo-Yo Ma and leaders from Mckinsey & Company, Red Bull, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


he report was picked up and covered in multiple media outlets, published in business and arts trade newsletters, and featured in a talk at Denver Startup Week. The next phase of the project will involve campaign development and broad public launch of advertising, thought leadership, and programmatic work