Creativity World Forum 2011

Poster with Sawyer, Gladwell
Event Poster at Ethias Arena

I’ve just delivered my keynote talk at the Creativity World Forum in Hasselt, Belgium. With over 2,000 people in the stadium, this was one of my largest audiences! The morning keynote was by Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, who talked about Web 2.0 and participatory innovation, and the evening keynote was by Malcolm Gladwell, who told several stories about how the first company to create something often is not the company that successfully commercializes the idea. I did the mid-day keynote, right after lunch, and my message was that collaboration is the key to creativity.

The organizers, Flanders DC, did a wonderful job selecting the three of us because all three keynotes reinforced the same message about creativity and innovation: it’s a process over time, that involves many small ideas from a lot of people, that takes unpredictable and surprising paths, and that has many dead ends and failures along the way. It’s a relatively well accepted message these days, of course, but my own contribution is to emphasize the improvisational nature of the process, and how the most successful collaborative groups and companies are the ones that have figured out how to manage improvisation.

After my keynote, I did a special 90-minute workshop for fifty people who had pre-registered, and I focused on specific techniques and exercises, based in psychological research, that help people come up with better ideas. The workshop was great fun–the 50 who made it in were energized and focused on creativity.

Hasselt is known for Jenever, made in these copper kettles

There are people here from all over the world; the 12 worldwide “districts of creativity” are having their annual meeting here (a shout-out to my friends from Creative Oklahoma) and the “Making Creativity Work” international project is also meeting here. I’ve talked to people from Finland, Barcelona, Germany, and Scotland. An incredible event!

2 thoughts on “Creativity World Forum 2011

  1. What tools did you cover in your workshop? If you are able to share some of the reference material that would be fantastic. I recently attended the Creative Innovation 2011 conference in Melbourne, Australia and I’m very interested in learning more about the practical application of creative thinking.

    1. I don’t think I could describe it well on the Internet. A lot of my exercises are discussed in my 2007 book Group Genius: I do a bit using the Remote Associates Test, then I do a visual invention exercise based on the work of Ron Finke, and various other small activities. It depends on the length of the workshop, too; this one was only 90 minutes, when I have a half- or full-day I do various breakouts into small groups as well. Finally, I’m a big fan of the marshmallow challenge (you can find it easily with an Internet search).

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