21st century meetings.
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What happens when you’re at a conference where the line-up of speakers is greater than at any conference you’ve been so far at. You get inspired, overloaded with fresh ideas and energised to give your own activities a new boost. At least, that’s what happened to me.

The Creativity World Forum 2011 was packed with speakers that each one of them would have been worth the journey on itself. The 2 days started off with Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder, and ended with director Oliver Stone. In between I listened to Alexander Osterwalder, Keith Sawyer, Peter Hinssen, Pattie Maes, Malcolm Gladwell, Scott Belsky, Garr Reynolds and a few lesser gods.

Though at first insight many of the speakers had their own story and theories to tell, an overarching story on how creativity, change and innovation work nevertheless unfolded.

Failure, collaboration, solitude as basis for a succesfull innovation or change

Here are my highlights.

  • Any successful change and innovation comes with failures, preferably as many as possible. Talking about generating successful business models, Alexander Osterwalder quoted IBM-founder Thomas Watson who said that ‘the way to succeed is to double your failure rate.’ Earlier on, Jimmy Wales started of his speech by showing that Wikipedia was the result of 3 business failures of his, of which the last one even had cost him 250.000 US$ without any successful result.
  • A second aspect is that innovation and change never come alone. Keith Sawyer, who looks at the value of improvisation in the modern organisations, says that it’s our human nature to collaborate. Creativity is never about an isolated person. And has never been. He shows that throughout history creative leaps spur from a collaborative web of persons that were linked in one way or another and working on the issue for already quite some time.
  • It also means that for ideas to happen, they need to be embedded in a network. Scott Belsky, author of ‘Making Ideas Happen’ advocated an organisation biased towards action. As a team the energy should be geared towards formulating and executing common action steps.
  • That our centralised mindset tends to favour one or two persons as the inventors just creates the myths of the flashes of insights and the lone inventors. Malcolm Gladwell followed up on that idea by questioning the value of being first. The first movers advantage is actually a disadvantage. It’s only when an innovation has sufficiently been tested that it will be successful. A nice example was the successful introduction of the iPhone which came several years after the first smartphones.
  • As a last point, I was reminded the value of ‘solitude’ (Oliver Stone) or ‘windows of non-stimulation’ (Scott Belsky). To real innovative ideas you also need time to step outside and let ideas simmer. Both Scott Belsky and Peter Hinssen were warning for the fact that information is permeating everywhere and at any time. Scott Belsky commented that currently the last frontier of deep thinking is the shower. But for how long…?


And of course: creative and engaging meetings

And last but not least, there was my own 7 min speech on creative and engaging meetings, which you can view here by watching videostream 6 (from 146.40 min onwards).

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