"Leadership should not be command and control."

The most-watched speaker on TED.com, Sir Ken Robinson is an author, educator and creativity expert who advocates for diverse a curriculum, local input into education strategies, and moving successful aspects of “alternative” education programs into the mainstream. He has lived in Los Angeles with his family for over a decade.

“The real role of leadership in education…is not, and should not be, ‘command and control’; the real role of leadership is ‘climate control.’”


Sir Ken Robinson speaking at TED Talks Education
Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D.
Speaker, TED Talks Education

Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources in education and in business. He is also one of the world’s leading speakers on these topics, with a profound impact on audiences everywhere. The videos of his famous 2006 and 2010 talks to the prestigious TED Conference have been viewed more than 25 million times and seen by an estimated 250 million people in over 150 countries. His 2006 talk is the most viewed in TED’s history. In 2011 he was listed as “one of the world's elite thinkers on creativity and innovation” by Fast Company magazine, and was ranked among the Thinkers50 list of the world’s top business thought leaders.

Sir Ken works with governments and educations systems in Europe, Asia and the USA, with international agencies, Fortune 500 companies and some of the world’s leading cultural organizations. In 1998, he led a national commission on creativity, education and the economy for the UK Government. All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education (The Robinson Report) was published to wide acclaim in 1999. He was the central figure in developing a strategy for creative and economic development as part of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland, working with the ministers for training, education enterprise and culture. The resulting blueprint for change, Unlocking Creativity, was adopted by politicians of all parties and by business, education and cultural leaders across the Province. He was one of four international advisors to the Singapore Government for its strategy to become the creative hub of South East Asia.

For twelve years, he was professor of education at the University of Warwick in the UK and is now professor emeritus. He has received honorary degrees from the Rhode Island School of Design, the Open University and the Central School of Speech and Drama; Birmingham City University, the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and Oklahoma State University. He was been honored with the Athena Award of the Rhode Island School of Design for services to the arts and education; the Peabody Medal for contributions to the arts and culture in the United States, the Arthur C. Clarke Imagination Award, the Gordon Parks Award for achievements in education and the Benjamin Franklin Medal of the Royal Society of Arts for outstanding contributions to cultural relations between the United Kingdom and the United States. In 2005, he was named as one of Time/Fortune/CNN’s ‘Principal Voices’. In 2003, he received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for his services to the arts.

His 2009 book The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything is a New York Times best seller and has been translated into twenty-one languages. A 10th anniversary edition of his classic work on creativity and innovation, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative was published in 2011. His latest book, Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life, will be published by Viking in May 2013. Sir Ken was born in Liverpool, UK. He is married to Therese (Lady) Robinson. They have two children, James and Kate, and now live in Los Angeles, California.

  • http://twitter.com/acrw Andrew C R Westoby

    Sir Ken continues to inspire creative thinking about education and training. Want to know … Why it’s essential to promote creativity? What the problem is and what can be done about it? Grab a copy of the freshly and fully updated “Out Of Our Minds”

  • Wendy Klinedinst

    Thank-you Sir Ken; I have recently recharged myself & my passion, I look forward to reading your book. I really enjoyed the revolution part. This can take place with our minds not with guns or violence … kudos!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/rainingtv Fede Arancibia

    huge fan

  • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort


    In military jargon, C&C stands for Command and Control. It’s a characteristic feature of hierarchical organizations, including governments and corporations, where power flows from the top down.

    Command and Control is the antithesis of the kind of organizational culture which people like me thrive in. I prefer the other kind of C&C — Collegiality and Congeniality.

    Three times in my career, I have lived through a jarring culture change in which an organization I was associated with underwent change from my kind of C&C (Collegiality and Congeniality) to the opposite kind (Command and Control).

    I do not function well in a Command and Control culture. It stifles my ability to contribute in a creative and innovative way to solve systemic problems.

    Twenty-five years ago, I was briefly employed by a Federally-Funded Research and Development Center which did some work for the US government. The division that hired me was called CCCI, which stood for Command, Control, Communication, and Intelligence — a fancier version of the original military culture of Command and Control. What I longed for was a completely different kind of CCCI — one that valued Cognition, Comprehension, Consciousness, and Insight.

    And now, once again, I long for a return to my kind of C&C — the culture of collegiality and congeniality in which an otherwise hopeless academic can thrive in a culture that values creativity and innovation.

  • Christa Swart

    why in spite of the most watched, most everything that shows interest and evidence to change our educational systems is it taking so long and is there so much resistance to something so needed?

    • dale Dupont

      command and control, power and position, money and sex, some stubbornness and fear too. or maybe just can’t see it. probably like the honey bees issue complex.

    • Cayle Marillier

      because its in our human nature to reject change

  • dale Dupont

    learned so much by listening it would be great to give a TED Talk so the speakers, educators, and those who make this forum possible, could get feedback and respect for the service they have done. Like the farmer who pants a seed and waters it should get some of the produce of the plant, so from my belief system God get the glory but TED talks should get some fruit for helping out.

    To me it clear our Modern American education system has gotten past the productive limits of what the laws of Nature and natures God will produce. The law of diminishing returns has kicked in. Yet we all know the crops are what they should be, yet struggle to return to good organic methods.

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