Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Leading a Culture of Innovation by Sir Ken Robinson

These are my notes from the opening keynote session, “Leading a Culture of Innovation” by Sir Ken Robinson at the 2012 State of Creativity Forum in Oklahoma City on November 13, 2012. MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS. Follow conference conversations today on Twitter with the hashtag #SoCF12.

Ken Robinson’s TED talk has now been viewed over 216 million times

Sir Ken Robinson at 2012 State of Creativity Forum

I’ve been coming to Oklahoma now for 7 years
– Oklahoma is an extraordinary place, and Oklahoma is a place that people have opinions about who have never been here
– wherever you’ve got people you have untapped creative potential, we have 3.5 million people in Oklahoma
– human talent is like natural resources, it’s often buried beneath the surface

Elvis Presley wasn’t allowed in the Glee Club at his high school in Tupelo, Mississippi
– people discover extraordinary talents within themselves when opportunities and conditions are created which make possibilities previously unimagined

Look how fast things have changed in 10 years
– no Twitter, no iPods
– creativity is transforming our world at an unprecedented pace

We need to look deeply into our how human reserves
3 step process

1- think about people, the depth of our talents: it’s personal

2- it’s about great groups and working more effectively

3- it’s about building a CULTURE of innovation

Have you noticed Microsoft Word has opinions about what you write?
– I don’t like it when Bill Gates disagrees with what I write (passive voice example)

– human culture has always been transformed by tools
– a symphony orchestra relies on advanced tools
– the entire genre of classical
– the tools themselves don’t have any music inside them
– you need great musicians and composers to breathe life into those tools
– great artists have lots of great art inside them
– word processors don’t have great novels in them until a great novelist sits down and creates with it

I grew up in Liverpool in the 1950s where we had 4 gadgets
– radio
– television (when I was 10, it had 2 channels in black and white, no remote control other than my younger brother Neil)
– telephone (when I was 9, it was a party line)
— party lines were like an early form of Facebook
– record player (when I was 10)
— Tom Doolie and the Kingston Trio was the only record we had, we played it on every family occasion, the ‘all purpose anthem’

There was no “Best Buy” and there was no reason to seek out a Best Buy because you had all the gadgets

All the gadgets we think are so cool now will be looked on by your grandchildren as so quaint

We are entering a point often called the singularity, as computers merge with the human mind
– we are facing challenges
– our solution is to invest more deeply in creativity

3 terms that are critical
1- imagination: bringing to reality things not previously in existence, can visit the past or future
2- creativity: putting your imagination to work, it’s a process we can supper
3- innovation: putting great ideas into practice

You can’t go straight to innovation

Study 2 years ago by IBM of 300 CEOs, biggest challenges
– run organizations that can adapt to rapid change
– top priority is creativity: fostering an organizational culture which thrives with creativity
— that pulse of creativity opens up new frontiers

How do we do it?
– it is people who have ideas
– tools offer extended capacities, but they don’t generate great ideas
– instruments didn’t create the music on their own, it took the artists and performers

Creativity is often about the dynamism between people
– a great team mirrors a great human mind
– is diverse, diverse talents joined to a single purpose
– function of a great team is to have a specific purpose
– diversity is often the pulse of creativity

This is why the cultural argument for creativity is so important

What does being British mean these days?
– driving home in a German car, picking up a Danish lager, sitting down on a Swedish sofa, watching American television programs on a Japanese television…
– most British theme of all: suspicion of anything foreign

A lot of mechanistic charts in organizations
– organizational charts look like wiring diagrams
– suggests human organizations are like mechanisms
– actually they are much more like living organisms
– fueling people’s aspirations

more like gardening than engineering
– think about the leadership for innovation is climate control

Death Valley is hottest place in America
– winter of 2004 Death Valley it rained
– spring 2005 was an amazing meadow of flower
– proved Death Valley isn’t dead, it’s dormant
– seeds were there all along waiting to come up
– with organic systems, if conditions are right life will flourish

leaders who understand the right conditions for people to flourish are essential in our schools


Our work in Oklahoma is about creating the conditions for growth
– work on Creativity always brings surprises
– school for contemporary music at UCO emerged from many innovations / creative ideas

It’s not about copying exactly what others have done, it’s identifying key elements that work
– personalize and customize to your own circumstances: that’s the key for creativity


Desmond Mason
– I discovered art around age 10, it’s always been within me
– I’ve been an artist who did basketball
– art has always allowed me a space to go and , “my safe place”
– I’m an emotional painter, it allows me to express good, bad, frustrations, and other things on canvas
– I had phenomenal art teachers in Stillwater, Okahoma (also coaches)
– I use my emotions and experience to create my art
– technique goes out the window, I try to hunt for things, I go in and try to get loose
– at this stage of my life it’s all over the place, it’s fairly organic
– I used to be a ‘one piece painter,’ now I am working on more than one at a time, working on series

Jesse Tabish
– I started ‘seriously composing’ about 10 years ago (full time, every day)
– I started as a guitar teacher, that allowed me to spend 8-9 hours per day at a piano
– it’s so important for people to have time during their day to work on their art
– art is the source of life for me
– we are all artists and meant to do art in some capacity, that doesn’t have to be painting or playing the guitar
– this is quality of life: what we are here to do is love and create art
– it’s essential to live that way
– our band has been together, the process of playing it live is a very collaborative effort
– I never doubted that music was what I was going to do
– I was supported so much by my family in my journey as a musician and artist: having that family/parent backing is critical, having the societal encouragement too
– some parents tell their kids at some stage “now it’s time to grow up and forget your dream to become an artist”
– my work process is a daily process, people ask me about ‘that moment of inspiration’ but I never have ‘that light of inspiration,’ there is daily work…
– it’s always daily work, but also ‘good love’


“Unlocking Creativity” was part of my work in Northern Ireland came about because of phone calls from Aideen McGinley, Trustee of Northern Ireland

Sacha Abercorn is the great, great, great granddaughter of the great Russian writer Alexander Pushkin

Sandra Janoff works with Future Search

Derek Brown works with Actor Shop in the UK

We need government policies which facilitates the creative process, but it’s not about waiting for the government to do it

Comments from Aideen McGinley
– there had been no investment in culture and the arts for the past 25 years
– my department had everything from fisheries to the opera
– how do you get gov’t policy in place for such a diverse constituency
– I had no money, no staff, no direction
– contacted Ken, his ability to make sense of things that are hard to grasp
– focus on creativity is a long, slow burn
– had first cultural strategy for creativity for Northern Island
– this was across all 4 political parties (you think things are hard with two parties?!)
– creativity has been the glue and defining principle that has held us together

When things were interpreted for the politicians, ‘they got it’
– I denied my own creativity when I started in my job, this was a personal journey for me
– it’s about being tenacious
– we showed politicians the connections between education, commerce and culture
– helping politicians see how culture is a serious issue, it’s a way of having conversations that can be difficult elsewhere
– leadership and persistence were key lessons learned in our journey in Northern Island
– not pushing it on others, but helping them understand it on their own terms
– it’s about ownership: I’m going to stick with it

Now comments from Sandra Janoff

What it means to transform a community, to transform people’s capacity to act
Future Search had its seeds in the last decade of social science
– starting to grab hold of people’s collective consciousness
– more people are ‘getting it’ – understanding ‘stakeholder’ (not shareholder)
– people who have a stake in the outcomes
– when you get the whole system in the room, you’re no longer working with just a fragmented part of the system, you’re working with the system as a whole
– learning about the whole before we go into action
– discovering common ground
– common ground is key
– people come together who don’t believe they could have common ground on a common issue, but the desires we do have in common move to the forefront
– we have very complex issues on our globe, students in Uganda experiencing physical violence: now an initiative to address these issues

5 steps to the process
– getting the whole system in the room
– learn about the past: the stories
– explore deeply what his happening in the present
– dream and dream big: this is where creativity comes in with a community model where people are scared

‘act out the future which is in your hearts’
– people said our leaders will never do that
– having the faith in these creative processes and supporting them with our colleagues to have the courage to take important steps
– acting out, imagining, and dreaming all critical for finding common ground

Differences that make a difference are in the room with this process
– our differences are our strength

Now comments from Derek Brown
– 1 reason we still work in schools is when I started teaching in London in the mid-1970s I would sometimes share enthusiastic stories in the teacher lounge and get into toe-to-toe confrontations with teachers who thought students I was celebrating were ‘wastes of space’ / had never done anything productive in their class
– people have misconceptions about their own abilities and the abilities of others
– we do ‘real play’ versus ‘role play’ in our workshops and training
– we work with organizations which encourage creative innovation
– creativity starts in the training room

Now hearing from Sasha Abercorn
– sharing story of daughter having nightmares
– window of opening was commemoration of Alexander Pushkin in England, it was a diverse group of people coming together because of a powerful artistic voice
– I realized that was and is the universal brand
– I understood in Northern Island we
– the Pushkin Prize was a passport to allow students to discover their creative voices
– teachers themselves are the most vital piece: if their voice has not been unleashed, how can they pass on that passion and gift to others?

Program: “Inspiring Educators”
– teachers do environmental work to allow the world of creation to help us first and foremost
– children are the seedlings of the future

This is supported by courage and others aligned with courage to step forward into the future
– we are talking about doing different things, stepping into a new direction

From Ken
– there is an app for the iPHone now that makes your device into a delta blues harmonica
– Jonathan Ive and Steve Jobs didn’t imagine that at the start, creative individuals who came later and were empowered/enabled by their device did

From Ken
Quotation from Ben Franklin, there are 3 kinds of people
– those who are immovable, those who are moveable, and those who move

Technorati Tags: , , , ,







One response to “Leading a Culture of Innovation by Sir Ken Robinson”

  1. Marta Ockuly Avatar

    This is so wonderful! Thanks for sharing this with us.