Tuesday, April 24, 2007

CREA 2007 – The fifth Annual Creativity European Association conference

I spent the last week in Sestri Levante, Italy at the fifth annual CREA conference. I’ve only missed one CREA -- and the reason is because it’s a remarkable conference. Here’s what’s remarkable about CREA:

• Attending are a diverse international group of creativity and/or innovation practitioners, facilitators, and motivated-to-learn participants. The participants are people from many different countries, 23 in all this year. Some are from big corporations, but there are entrepreneur’s, consultants, and governmental types as well.
• People talk – there are a lot of friendships made at CREA, and a lot of informal business being done. It would be hard to imagine a better place to find the perfect creativity or innovation consultant for yourself or your organization. Also hard to imagine a better conference to learn more for yourself. CREA’s only real competition is the CPSI conference (www.cpsiconference.com), which is larger and older, and also a great conference, but I’d have to say less intimate. Former CPSI participants who wanted to recreate the experience with a European flavor organized CREA; I’d say they have succeeded.
• Longer format immersion courses (16 hours spread over four days) offer an opportunity to really learn and integrate creative process and technique. We’re talking Deep Learning, the kind that becomes a part of your life. These sessions go way beyond typical conference overview fare. There are some short sessions as well, which they call Expo’s, and while shorter, these are also highly experiential and impactful.
• Hats off to the conference organizers on many aspects of the conference. First and foremost is a dedication to quality programming. Their Discovery course of creative problem solving is the only public offering of the new Thinking Skills model articulated by Gerard Puccio, Mary Murdock, and Marie Mance in their seminal book Creative Leadership. I’d call that cutting edge. Fair to mention here I was one of the instructors of Discovery English, so I’m biased. On the other hand I have no vested interest in the conference, I am a volunteer – and yes, I do it for free. Why? I wouldn’t miss being with this community. I wouldn’t miss my own chance to learn.
• Sessions are held in Italian, French, and English. The facilitators are a mixed lot from all over Europe, the USA and South America. They are some of the world’s most successful consultants and practitioners in creativity or innovation.
• Sestri Levante, Italy is a delightful place. Located about an hour’s drive south of Genoa on the Mediterranean coast, the conference is spread over four hotels and two meeting facilities, all short walks from each other. The views are fabulous, the kind that scream for a painter to come and capture in watercolors or oils. Sestri has two small bays nestled into the rocky and hilly coastline of Italy and the old world ambience of the village. The local people are friendly, you can walk, or even swim at the pristine beach -- the whole place exudes authentic charm.
• Did I mention the food is fantastic? It’s buffet eating and it’s marvelous. Lots of seafood and unique Italian specialties, local breads and cheeses. And wine with both lunch and dinner. Again, not your typical conference.
• You’ve missed the 2007 conference but consider attending in 2008. The conference maxes out at about 300, so I would suggest you check into their website often and register at the first opportunity. For more information: http://www.creaconference.org/

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