Late last month, I attended the European Conference on Creativity and Innovation.
What a wonderful experience! The conference theme was “Make it Happen,” with a focus upon the implementation of creative ideas. (In many ways, it’s easier to focus on generating ideas, than on actually bringing them into being — something to which an entrepreneur of any ilk may attest!) The keynote presentations were fantastic, and I’ll offer more specific details in future posts. What I wanted to begin was with part of the organizing principle of the conference.
Breakout sessions were categorized into various tracks: academic papers, English-language workshops (several concurrent), workshops delivered in French (one track), and Arts workshops (also one track). Since I have come to the formal study of creativity after years of being an artist (actor and writer), I am learning how the expectations and anticipations of what creativity is are affected by the presence of the arts. For some people, creativity and artistry are synonymous; if you ask them if they are creative, they may defer, saying that they don’t sing, dance, paint, write, act or sculpt.
On the other end of the spectrum is the philosophy that creativity is a cognitive process which travels a certain identifiable path. The methodology of Creative Problem Solving lies in this realm. I am recently trained on CPS, as part of the Master’s program I’m attending at Buffalo State College, and I love it. Even though it varies in many ways from the frequently less formed, but always coming-into-form, process of creating art, it shares some aspects as well. After an initial (artist-anxious) resistance to the “cognitive-semantic-rational” approach, I have embraced it.
So when I presented at the conference, it was with two minds: as an artist delivering one of the arts-based workshops; and as a student of creativity and the mechanics of creative thinking. Of course, this is an artificial division in many ways, but for the purpose of the ETA forum, I thought it would be interesting to pass on the sorts of topics represented by the arts.
They included workshops in: visual literacy, using literary and dramatic techniques for effective implementation (that was my workshop), regenerating sources of creativity, involving artists in innovation, “looking into the mirror of art,” and working with heroic archetypes.
For those of us here who practice an art as an expression of our creativity, these applications may seem to be a no-brainer. What I have learned, again and again, is the power of transposing the obvious into a new context. It doesn’t have to be a big stretch. An orthogonal distance is great enough. It’s all creativity. How we make it happen is up to us.