Hands down, our of our most inspiring experiences at CEMA Summit this year (and there were many) was the keynote by Duncan Wardle. The former VP of Innovation & Creativity at Disney shared tangible innovation tools to help us think differently to solve problems and brainstorm new concepts and ideas.
This keynote hit home because creativity is at the foundation of everything we do as event architects.
If your Feedly looks anything like mine, it’s a glut of event planning articles like 6 Events Pushing the Boundaries of Creativity or Creative Event Ideas: Embracing Weirdness, Pop-up Islands, and Running Conventions. We are in the business of creating experiences that delight and inspire.
Duncan said he created his “Innovation Toolkit” to tackle the barriers most people face when it comes to being more innovative and creative at work, such as lack of time, risk averse company cultures, or ideas getting stuck or killed as they move through an organization’s processes.
Here are eight creative behaviors Duncan shared that can help foster an environment that facilitates innovation:
- Nurturing. Or growing an idea together so it evolves from “my idea” or “your idea” to “our idea.” In meetings and brainstorming sessions, encourage “yes, and…” language so no one on your team is inadvertently shutting down ideas or the sharing of ideas.
- Playfulness. Or teaching your team to get into the right frame of mind for innovation and creativity. That’s because a stressed brain isn’t a creative brain. At Hubb this looks like our bi-weekly all staff meetings where each division takes turns selecting a team-building activity. You never know what’s going to happen and there is always tons of laughter: We’ve covered everything from office chair curling to Family Feud Hubb style.
- Signaling. Or setting your team up for success in creating the right environment for ideation by experimenting with expansionist or reductive thinking sessions. That means you as a leader, or even a team member, are modeling the behavior you want your team to exhibit.
- Intuition. Or helping your team develop a stronger sense of empathy toward the customer or consumer. This can be a real challenge, but at Hubb we encourage all team members, from graphic designers to developers, to attend and be a part of the events we’re supporting with Hubb.
- Mindfulness. Or showing people how to move between their conscious and unconscious brains to expand thinking. Employees who work at organizations that promote cultures of mindfulness report feeling calmer, more patient, and better able to listen.
- Curiosity. Or helping your team understand how important unplanned collaboration is, and what kind of stimulus is needed to introduce or develop new ideas. When they were younger, my children used to drive me a little bit crazy with the “why, why, why” all the time. But, at the same time, one of my greatest joys as a parent has been observing everyday experiences anew through their eyes. As event planners, we may be coordinating the same event year after year, but we should strive to maintain that curiosity to understand how others experience our events.
- Prototyping. Or showing your team how to bring their ideas to life. Creating an early working model is a key tool in design thinking. This can be a real challenge because there’s always a risk your team is investing time and resources into something that will fail. But its importance is the perfect segue into Duncan’s final behavior…
- Bravery. Or helping your team have the confidence to be brave and take risks. Here’s one of Duncan’s best quotes from that day: “The opposite of bravery is not cowardice, it’s conformity.”
Just like every year, our team left CEMA Summit full of ideas and ready to conquer the world (of event technology). We look forward to this event every year and are honored to have been selected as the content management platform for CEMA Summit since 2017.
Make sure lack of time is never a barrier to creativity at your events. Download Hubb's helpful Timeline for a Strategically Planned Conference guide.