These are my notes from the opening panel discussion from the 2011 Oklahoma Creativity Forum. Today’s program is available in PDF format. This was facilitated by Gregg Frale. Panelists are Robert Sternberg, Desmond Mason, Dave Albert & Ken Grant. MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS.

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Environments we are placed in have a HUGE impact in whether or not we act in creative and collaborative ways
– often people are isolated and not encouraged to work together and take risks

Big myth about creativity and innovation is that it’s easy
– it takes a lot of work
– it takes time and work to develop the mindset and the ideas you have

Biggest myth of about creativity is you can’t measure it (via Robert Sternberg)
– often we focus on measuring things that aren’t that important
– when I was provost at Tufts University we focused on measuring creativity, now at OSU we are measuring creativity for our applicants because
– We need to ask students creative questions: imagine something, explore something, create something..
– creative questions
– huge block is that we can’t do this

We need creative and wise leaders today more than ever
– so we have people in high positions that do well in multiple choice tests, but don’t have good creative skills (example are people in Lehman Brothers responsible for our financial meltdown)

MY COMMENT: AFTER READING “ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE,” I HAVE TO SAY THAT FOLKS IN FINANCIAL INDUSTRY DID SHOW A LOT OF CREATIVITY IN CREATING ‘NEW INVESTMENT VEHICLES’ – THESE WERE NOT NECESSARILY ETHICAL THINGS TO DO, BUT THEY WERE CREATIVE

It’s not JUST results that are critical, the process is key

Innovation can take longer to be recognized
– creativity can be expressed much more readily

SOUNDS LIKE PANELISTS ARE SAYING WE ALL HAVE THE CAPACITY TO BE CREATIVE, BUT MANY OF US DON’T EXERCISE THAT POTENTIAL AND CHOOSE TO BE INNOVATIVE

Picasso said he spent a lifetime trying to draw and paint like an 8 year old

Getting in touch with our creativity can depend on the ability to bounce off others, interact with others, overcome our feelings of isolation
– feeding off the energy and others

Steve Jobs intentionally said “Think Different” instead of “Think Differently”
– conventional wisdom is a very powerful force

Orthagonal innovations idea by Dave Albert
– positioning yourself at 90 degrees to the conventional ways of thinking
– example of drilling horizontal wells with Chesapeake

Grest story by Robert Sternberg about a former NBA player working for the association, who (on advice from his creative wife) got a headhunter to find a new job for HIS boss (who was a real problem for him) instead of finding a new job for him

Every day is a new day to start over
– when you have a block: step away, get a new canvas
– we all encounter roadblocks but each day we get to start over with a fresh breath

Deciding it’s time to take a risk is KEY
– if you’re stuck take a risk, you’ll end up somewhere but it may not be where you intended

Does brainstorming work?
– diversity in a room can lead to chaos and lots of different ideas

Dave Albert: creativity is a state of mind
– brainstorming is a tool
– every person has potential to be creative: each person should take risks to discover what is successful for us

In Steve Jobs biography he talked about access to his intuition, benefit of wandering around India barefoot to get in touch with that

What is the role of intuition in creativity?
– Bill Gates is an example of analytic creativity, Steve Jobs more of an example of intuitive creativity

Robert Sternberg: I don’t think creativity is intuitive
– story of middle school principal having trouble with girls putting lipstick on bathroom mirrors, had custodian demo cleaning it off putting squeegee in the toilet first before cleaning it… no more lipstick vandalism problems

Collaboration doesn’t just happen on its own, it has to be deliberate / intentional

How do you inject fun into an environment
– we gutted the floor where we work, took out the walls, brought in the natural light
– we’ve setup a miniature golf tournament in the office recently, had trick or treating and office decorating

Desmond Mason
– making a conscious effort to use creativity to take me away from the negative aspects of my situation early in life (around poverty and drugs) was key

Robert Sternberg: to be creative you have to be willing to defy the crowd
– story of a ski jumper who held his hands differently, went further but lost because judges graded him down for aesthetics

Dave Albert: “Think Different. Those crazy enough to think they can change the world often do.”

Ken Grant: Are you willing to step out and become an entrepreneur
– some organizations, OG&E is an example of a company that empowers and encourages creativity
– you’ve got to be an agent for change
– other people will follow you if you have passion
– really empowering people is more than just talk
– letting people make real decisions
– OZ principle: decisions you make lead to behaviors and beliefs for your people
– need to enable people to believe and understand they can take risks and make mistakes

Robert Sternberg: It’s important to not just say we value creativity, but look at what we actually value and reward in our culture

Dave Albert: Risk and failure are inevitable bedfellows
– we have cultures to our west and east that don’t’ tolerate failure
– this gives the United States a real advantage
– Entrepreneurs prayer: God grant me the wisdom to make only NEW mistakes

Robert Sternberg: NCLB has straight-jacketed all constituents (admins, teachers, kids) against taking risks

OK GREAT! THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I’VE HEARD AN OKLAHOMA LEADER TAKE ON NCLB TEST MANIA IN A PUBLIC FORUM! WOO HOO! (MORE ON THIS HERE)

Ken Grant: Best takeaway = take risks, encourage your people to take risks

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