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Josiah Wedgwood Leadership and CreativityJosiah Wedgwood Leadership and Creativity


Josiah Wedgwood (1730-95)


English pottery manufacturer (pictured right) , famous for his green glazed pottery that is still popular today.

The first businessman to sell pottery worldwide to a mass market, produced at its factory, Etruria, near Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, England.

An anti-slavery campaigner and Charles Darwin’s (pictured right below) father-in-law.

Josiah Wedgwood Leadership and Creativity 

Why was he so creative?


1. Vision and purpose

His aim was simple but incredibly ambitious: to become “potter to the universe”, selling beautiful pottery that appealed to his customers (see point 2).


2. Customer satisfaction

He always:


a) considered the needs of his customers

(particularly the growing middle class in Europe).


b) influenced customers

(persuading them that beauty was just as important as function i.e. for eating and drinking).


c) valued the public image of his products

This was

  • based on the products' distinctiveness, quality and appearance
  • communicated through advertising and his luxurious showroom.


d) branded his products

He was one of the first exponents of branding.

 Josiah Wedgwood Leadership and Creativity

e) supported neoclassic designs

Customers liked his beautiful designs for which he employed artists and sculptors.

For example, his creamware (cream coloured earthenware) was called Queen’s ware, when it was sold to George III’s wife, Queen Charlotte


3. Technical skill

He was an expert in the science of pottery making.


  • invented the pyrometer for measuring high temperatures which was invaluable for the firing (or baking) of pottery.
  • was always introducing the latest and best production methods (see point 4).


4. Lifelong learning

He never stopped increasing his knowledge through his love of:

  • reading and researching.
  • experimenting and trying new ideas.

For example, his factory was the first in the world to have steam powered engines in 1782.

His motto was

“Everything comes from experiment”

He kept all his new discoveries in his experiment book.

He was a big supporter of the Enlightenment, a philosophical movement dedicated to learning and scientific progress.


5. Great employees

He worked them extremely hard and demanded very high quality standards.

But he looked after them through: 

 Josiah Wedgwood Leadership and Creativity

a) housing

He built them a village of nice houses near his factory (pictured right).


b) training


c) family support

He gave their families money when they died or were ill, and educated their children.


d) health 

He worked hard to eradicate “potter’s rot”, the killer chest disease that came from breathing in clay particles.

His failure to do so was one of his biggest disappointments.

Josiah Wedgwood Leadership and Creativity

6. Support

He had great support from his

  • employees.
  • wife, Sally (pictured right above). Josiah Wedgwood Leadership and Creativity
  • closest friend and business partner, Thomas Bentley (pictured right).




7. Determination

He was extremely determined to make the best of his ability and become a great potter.

He overcame:Josiah Wedgwood Leadership and Creativity

  • smallpox as a child (that later led to a leg being amputated).
  • the tragic death of his daughter, Mary Anne, in 1786.

He was also determined to abolish slavery and his motto Am I not a man and a brother? was adopted by the Anti-Slavery Society (pictured right in its 1787 poster)



8. Love of work

He got totally absorbed in his work that he enjoyed passionately.


Key quote on love

Am I not a man and a brother? – his motto adopted by the Anti-Slavery Society


Key quote on creativity

Everything comes from experiment.


Key quote on quality

A composition for cheapness and not excellence of workmanship is the most frequent and certain cause of the rapid decay and entire destruction of arts and manufactures.


Key quote on ethics

Men must have the right of choice, even to choose wrong, if he shall ever learn to choose right.

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