It took me a few weeks to get to this post, after integrating what unfolded at and after our Creativity in Business Conference a few weeks ago. On October 23, we produced a (sold-out - yay!) conference in Washington, DC with the help of many amazing, generous souls. It was gratifying that people seemed to get a lot out of it - I think the feedback reflects a juicy and alive day. Everyone really stepped up, took risks, pushed their edges, had fun and engaged fully. Photographer, Alexander Morozov of Photography by Alexander, captured the energy of the day with these pictures.
It Started with Principles of Creative Engagement
Lots of Options
Tweeting was not encouraged during the breakout sessions, nor was having laptops, so participants could be immersed in the full-on experience of the session. The intention was that these were not sessions for sitting back, taking notes and reporting out. Each session was about discovery by undistracted engagement in real time, trying new things, engaging the whole brain - and the body in many cases. Low on observing and recording; high on awareness, presence, creating, engaging...then integrating.
Experiential Breakout Sessions
Michael Blake on Breathing Life into
|Improvisational Storyteller session|
Heart-Centered Service at the Core
While each of the presenters and panelists has been a keynoter at events, there were no keynoters or "speakers" at this event. There were experiential facilitated sessions and participatory panels, a storytelling plenary and an audience-interactive Imagination Festival. This event was designed to have the central focus be the creativity of who was in the room, not on one of the many luminaries who were there. While each presenter and panelist is a clear creative leader in their own right - a credible expert and pioneering creator - they also are deeply heart-centered in service of that creativity for the greater good. The balance of head (knowledge, experience and ingenuity) and heart (service, kindness), is what I believe makes them so awesome...and made the conference work. Low on ego; high on meaning and service.
Interactive Panels captured by Graphic Recording
Click on the panel links for the graphic of that panel. The Creative Leadership Panel included John Hagel, Robert Richman, Annalie Killian and Rita King. The Creative Work Cultures Panel included Carol Sanford, Steve Dahlberg, Kristi Faulkner and John Hagel. The Social Media & Creativity Panel included DC-based 'tech titans' Jesse Thomas, Peter LaMotte, Shashi Bellamkonda, Maxine Teller and Jen Consalvo. And the Emergence & CoCreation Panel - which I had fun moderating - included Peggy Holman, George Por, Bill Smith and Jack Ricchiuto.
Pioneers who Lead by Example
One thing that I loved that each presenter and each panelist had in common is that they were pioneers in some way...each had created their own approach, structure, services or products. Each had something original they have developed as part of their business offering. It was significant to the design of the event that every one of the presenters and panelists was offering something new and original to participants - thereby modeling applied creativity in business. This "ownership of personal experience" also gave them the real-time flexibility in thinking that allowed them to be present to addressing what was really showing up, without having to rely solely on third party knowledge. And it allowed for the real-time discovery that comes from being in the moment.
Themes Extracted from Stories
The Storytelling Plenary Session had compelling stories from leaders who are bringing creativity in business into the corporate world - with transformative results: John Hagel, James Jorasch, Rita King and Annalie Killian, each of whom shared their personal creativity in business journeys - which made them meaningful and accessible. The themes that emerged from their stories captured in Diane's graphic recording are here.
Nonverbal Creativity to Deepen the Learning
In keeping with the whole-brain engagement and pattern breaking themes of the day, I facilitated the Nonverbal Creativity Closing Session accompanied by musician extraordinaire, Anthony Hyatt of Moving Beauty, who masterfully put to music participants non-verbal expressions of the day. Each group of 8 produced a moving sculpture that was captivating to behold - both visually and energetically. The music fed off of them and they fed off the music in a feedback loop.
The day ended with an incredibly fun and frolicky Improvisation-Imagination Festival led by Kat Koppett and Cathy Salit, premiere improvisers from New York. Imagination, Play, and Improvisation were the main themes of the Festival. Not just watching from the sidelines, participants were the creative action. It was a great time!
Thankfulfor and More
The Thankfulfor display - created and curated by Jen Consalvo (pictured right) of Tech Cocktail - invited participants to post what they were thankful for at any given moment throughout the day. With 160 people in "gratitude energy" a palpable appreciative field was created. I think every event needs a gratitude wall. :-)
After the Festival, there was time for connect-working over hors d'oeuvres, catered by Leigh DuWolf, followed by dinner at a local Georgetown restaurant. DJ Rasul Sha'ir, President of Cnvrgnc, kept the music flowing throughout the day to add to the creative atmosphere, and the Conference Team, led by the amazing Tya Bolton, kept the flow going and the contianer strong.
Post-Conference Presenter Retreat
After the conference, several of the presenters enjoyed some down time at Kayser Ridge, located on 20 acres of wilderness in the stunningly beautiful Shenandoah Mountains in West Virginia. We were fortunate to be there during the breathtaking peak foliage week. It also so happened that were there to behold the fluke occurence of the Northern Lights in the night sky - which "never" happens this far south - a perfect way to cap off a time full of pattern breaking, good juju and emergent surprises.
• Conference Pictures
• Blog Posts by Corey Blake, Melanie Sklarz, Patrick Ross, Shashi Bellamkonda and Annalie Killian
• Conference Facebook Page
I really feel grateful for the co-creation at every level of this event, the learnings I had, and new and/or deepened connections I made. Putting on this second conference was passion-in-action for me - in service of the emerging creativity-centered work paradigm. I look forward to whatever unfolds next.