A creativity conference
Imagine spending a week learning how to create, innovate and lead change at a conference with others from all over the world. You attend a grand opening session, whetting your appetite, inspiring you to consider new thinking and approaches to make a difference in your business and life.
You are ready, awareness heightened, open to new ideas. You are not aware of the degree of uncertainty you will face as the week progresses nurturing your ground for making new decisions.
During the week ambiguity prevails – you wonder where the leaders of the different sessions are taking you, want to know you’ve made the right decision in your program selections, wait for an aha or insight that will be meaningful for your purpose of being there.
The hotel gathering areas are conducive to allowing for freedom of thought. Lego, massage chairs, fountain, and park benches create an environment for expansive thinking away from session content.
The week continues. You attend a program daily for a few hours, one among
- Springboard to Creative Problem Solving
- Building Teams
- Facilitation by Design
- Tools & Techniques
- Facilitating CPS
- Coaching – The New Way of Learning
- Innovation Leadership
- New Thinking, New Thinkers!
You also attend concurrent sessions varying from 90 minutes to 3 hours covering a range of topics related to creativity and innovation, personal transformation, tools for facilitation, insights into intuition in creative problem solving, mindfulness, managing transitions, convergence tools, personal energy systems and styles.
In the evenings the programs continue – each night offers even more selections of ways to grow your creativity. A planned plenary program is followed by other on-the-fly sessions that begin at 9:30. Of course, there’s the pub on the hotel level below with music and dance most every night. Then there are the off session conversations that can last for hours that just fly by. With the level of intensity, the flow of the moment extends further and further.
When your energy wanes you retreat to your hotel room or car for a nap, or go for a walk a few blocks, away from the noise for a good cup of coffee, far away from the action. You are ncertain about potential missed opportunities when you do. You might choose to meditate, or, totally forget about self-care because you want to get your money’s worth of content and experience. The hotel provides extra shots of caffeine to add to your coffee to keep you going.
Attending the conference closing session gives you a potent, untimely message about creativity, innovation and leading change. It presents the shock of reality facing you when you leave to pursue your creative dream.
- You learn about how much money the conference made through auctions to enhance its purpose
- You are shown a small town church-like social committee’s photos and videos from the week on a dimly lit screen
- You are told you are a trumpet, a violin, a tuba or drums in a sing-song led by the emcee and must perform your instrument only when asked
- You are read a confusing going home bedtime story that highlights photos of birds and of the presenter and his daughter
- You are led through an exercise you’ve already done in your personal program: making meaning out of your week at the conference. Your second go at it will be mailed to you six months later you are told, so you can check your progress (“How retro,” say two twenty-something guys sitting nearby).
The closing session is opposite to the opening. The opening showed evidence of creative effort and engaged people to consider how they might bring out their 12 year-old self to see the world in new ways. The closing lets you know you are a seasoned adult with worries.
The lingering taste from this conference on creativity, innovation and leading change is this: you get excited about what can be done only to be disheartened when you learn it’s really all about money, doing as you are told, and rehashing what you’ve already learned.
Re-entry into the real world is necessary after a week’s immersion in creativity and change. The dust needs to settle as plans are made and insights leveraged for new thinking and behaviours to emerge. The ending of this conference was far too abrupt in that regard. It was boring, not arousing. It may have clipped the wings of potential and possibility limiting the flight of participants into creating a meaningful and satisfying new world. On the other hand, it may have just done the exact right thing.
The closing session introduced a reality that awaits, allowing you think time about the real integration of what you’ve learned with what you used to know. Let’s trust the new learning prevails and is not swallowed up with the goings-on of everyday life once you get home.