Monday, February 25, 2008

International Creativity and Innovation Summit -- ACA Singapore

Roving reporter hat on, I sit in a brilliant white bathrobe in the King Copthorne hotel in Singapore, up early, filing this missive about the ACA International Conference 2008, themed Creativity Across Cultures, "Sowing the Creative Seed".

Imagine those newsroom do do do....

ACA is the American Creativity Association and you might wonder why an American group is having their annual meeting here in this red dot of an island nation at the tip of the Malaysia peninsula. Until this event, Austin, Texas was their meeting place of choice. The simple answer is they made a gutsy decision to be truly international, and they are aided and abetted in that effort by Singapore Management University (SMU). After 19 years in the USA I believe this signals that the ACA has taken their game to a new level in furthering their mission of promoting personal and professional creativity, innovation, and problem solving. Kudos to the ACA, they walk the talk of applied creativity and innovation, and they are now walking and talking internationally. No other creativity organization is credibly doing the same, I credit the ACA with showing leadership.

Kudo's to the illustrious thinker Kirpal Singh of SMU who had the idea to bring the conference to his homeland over three years ago. It's a testament to ACA that they were creative enough to let that idea live long enough to see the light of day, apparently they really practice the principle of deferred judgement! In one fell swoop Kirpal has helped establish himself and SMU as creativity and innovation thought leaders in this island nation, and perhaps in the entire region.

There is an impressive array of speakers here. Tony Buzan presented twice yesterday and delighted his audience with a sparkling wit and with fresh research on the interplay of memory and creative thinking. Zainul Abidin Rasheed, a Senior Minister with the Singapore Foreign Affairs office made some intelligent and germane remarks about the role of creativity in furthering the economic interests of a nation that has been a tremendous adaptor of new technologies, but not a great inventor of new ones.

I'm speaking Tuesday afternoon on the Fun-damentals of Daily Creative Behavior, sharing my time slot with Kirpal. I'm honored -- should be interesting.

Attendees come from all around the globe, I personally met people from these countries: Russia (Siberia), Iran, New Zealand, Australia, Nigeria, Israel, the USA, Canada, UK, India, Singapore, and a sizable contingent of folks from China. I'm sure I've missed a few but it is delightful to see people of all colors learning more about creativity and innovation together. The CSTC (Creative Leadership Form) held a short meeting here at the ACA and members got some face time with CSTC organizer Ralph Kerle of Australia. For more on the CSTC see:

The mood here is buoyant and it's floating a lot of optimism and, well, creativity! Buzan had the whole group of over 200 memorize in a matter of moments the names and order of the planets going away from the sun by the use of a highly visual story. He talked about the universal language of all humans which is images, imagination, and association.

Tony LeSorti, an American innovation consultant, gave a terrific summary of current innovation best practice. Particularly revealing were his points on the effective behaviors of organizations with a high level of innovation, citing Teresa Amabile of Harvard and Stan Gryskiewicz. I have to wonder what was in the mind of a Viet Nam Veteran returning to the region where he lead soldiers through the jungle as a young man. My guess, he was delighted to be here make a contribution in such a positive way.

Pavan Choudary with the School of Wisdom in India did a session which was very insightful on how to cope with those who lack integrity. His answer for the innocent is to use creative thinking.

My favorite session so far was fairly low key but dramatic in terms of what it revealed about thinking. Sue Woolfe, a published novelist and professor at Sydney University in Australia, talked about the relationship of writing, creativity, and neuroscience. Essentially she advocates a type of writing where one is in a state of "loose construing". She cited the neurological research to back up her theory, but better than that, she had us all writing and creating compelling characters in a very short time period. For me it was a further demonstration of the power of story, and the importance of getting into a relaxed flow when doing any type of creative thinking.

Much more to come before this meeting ends on Friday, it's a pretty amazing array of thought leaders and experts they've assembled from around the globe. It feels like a community.

If you're a corporate innovation manager, or an innovation consultant/practitioner, you would be well served to keep tabs on this conference and attend next year,, and if you get to Singapore, you have to try the Chili Crab -- to die for!

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