Creativity conference post-script

Just off the phone with a colleague congratulating me for objectively reporting some aspects of my experience during the past week. Other emails, tweets and Facebook messages are saying the same thing.

“It’s one of things I do well,” I said.

“Are you going to write anything positive about the conference?” she responds.

“I can only report my perceptions.”

“Didn’t you hear anyone saying they were excited and wowed?”

“Not much besides comments about the opening session, many talked about how inspiring it was.”

“Then write about the opening session.”

“I wasn’t there.  The person I’d been working with since February for our conference presentation pulled out at the last minute.  Too bad really, because that individual took responsibility for Powerpoint deck and handouts.  When the decision came there would be no partner, it all fell on my shoulders.  I ended up using my time before the conference making sure the presentation was reasonable and that there were some kind of handout. It affected my leave time, impacting my ability to attend the opening. It likely also influenced my observations throughout the week.”

What a response from a creativity professional, eh?  Am I walking my talk?  When working with client groups I insist on a mind-set of ‘what’s good about it’ when a change is introduced or a wild card event occurs to keep their emotional balance and resilience through the shift. It is integrated into my being.  It works too.

Once many years ago I was laid off from job in advertising.  When the VP gave the verbal notice, I responded with ‘what’s good about it’ as a knee jerk response.  His jaw dropped, wouldn’t yours?

Common tools used in the field to assist that kind of thinking include:

  • PPC (pluses, potentials and concerns)
  • PPCO (pluses, potentials, concerns and overcome obstacles)
  • ALU (advantages, limitations, unique qualities, and overcoming limitations)
  • Angel’s Advocate – which pretty much does the same as all the above. It’s my favourite and the one I’ve been touting for years.

So, for the sake of balance, here are some Angel’s Advocate responses to my conference experience.

What was good about it?

  • Met new people and reconnected with longstanding colleagues and friends
  • Distributed 67 “I am creative” buttons for World Creativity and Innovation Week (WCIW) April 15 – 21.
  • Found out more people are celebrating WCIW than I ever knew about
  • Learned about new research in the field and am particularly interested in following up on an intriguing study of affect throughout the creative process
  • Discovered a caffeinated creamer to add to coffee!!
  • Asked new questions (something I love to do) and presented new thinking patterns for people to consider during the concurrent session presentations
  • Became acutely aware that there’s an opportunity to innovate an event that honours both interaction and reflection, a conference and retreat combined (thanks Liz!!)
  • Rediscovered that people come to this conference with unmet needs and behave in ways to meet them, perhaps not even knowing what they are
  • Reminded that some people find discomfort in change

Keeping in mind I’ve been participating in this conference since 1977 as a participant, then leader of springboard, its program coordinator then concurrent session leader, spotlighted speaker, etc. my context is a little different from others for whom this was their first or 5th foray into the realm.

Likely they have epiphanies to recall, tons of new ideas to share and are totally psyched by being in an environment that deliberately nurtures creativity and advances innovation through education, skill building and community. I’m pleased to be an elder (and curmudgeon at times) in that community, helping to guide learning and advance acceptance of the new.

I appreciate the efforts made by all to stretch their thinking to risk, including the conference organizers, session leaders and participants for making the conference a learning and success for all.

This past week I revisited a culture of creativity that is winding down from a journey that began over 50 years ago. It is now on the brink of dynamic and awe-inspiring change that I look forward to seeing and helping to grow.

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