Beg forgiveness for writing again about CPSI (Creative Problem Solving Institute) but feel compelled to share my experience at the conference. I’ve just returned and am still digesting a very rich creative learning experience. I’m thinking differently.
Disclosure: KILN was a sponsor this year at CPSI.
CPSI 2013 returned to a college campus, and to Buffalo, after many years of bouncing around the country. My first thought is to say I hope it stays there. CPSI is not a “corporate” conference and it does not belong at a hotel. It’s a learning conference (where anybody who can afford it) belongs. Of course, many corporate folks attend, they need creativity in the worst way and some actually know it. AND also attending: educators, consultants, students, and from many parts of the globe. The diversity is a huge plus. The conversations are always incredible, futurists, brain researchers, inventors, master teachers, authors, artists…you get the picture. The SUNY Buffalo campus was perfect, green spaces, funky dorm rooms, and cafeteria food are actually a Good Thing, it takes people away from the usual and starts the process of thinking differently.
And CPSI is all about thinking differently. Thinking differently in deliberate ways, and also, in more intuitive ways. The conference content addresses both the left and right parts of the brain. This is one of the few conferences you’ll ever go to that isn’t essentially a PowerPoint data dump, with lectures. CPSI is an experience that stimulates new thinking and gives you tools to take home so you can continue doing so. It’s an applied creativity conference, and, it’s an innovation fundamentals experience. You might learn a highly structured framework. You might also learn ways to access your own intuition as you walk a labyrinth.
Part of the value for folks who return year after year is that it breaks set and allows the mind a chance to make brand new connections. For example, working with a new team. I did a three day immersive course (Springboard) for newby’s who want to learn the CPS process. My partners in crime were two people I knew but had never worked with before. It was, frankly, challenging. Not in the content or conflict sense, but just in the simple coordination of presenting and creating experiences for a lot of material. Our pre-work and planning paid off, but at times we had to improvise on the spot as we made transitions (no time for rehearsals!) we managed, and, it pushed our boundaries. It was very satisfying to see participants learn CPS experientially, that was my (our) payoff. The insight for me personally is that perfection is not always necessary for people to learn. AND, transitions matter, I/we’ll do better with that next year. That’s why I volunteer to lead at this conference — I’m learning with everybody else. Understand that I don’t get paid, in fact, I pay them, and it was worth every dime. My fellow creativity and innovation expert peers do the same (and we all compete with each other normally) isn’t that extraordinary?
Speaking of peers, a lesson was gifted to me early in the event having to do with my own arrogance. I attended a pre-conference workshop on Innovation with Dimis Michaelides (a Cypriot, and a magician in addition to being an innovation expert). Now, I’m a jaded, faded person when it comes to innovation methods and frameworks. I really believed, as I walked into the course, that I was not going to learn so much. Much of the material was familiar. However, the fresh point of view, well designed materials, the dialogue, and the different cultural perspectives of the participants had me gleaning fresh insights. Dimis integrated fun and experiences into the workshop that, well, had me thinking differently. Dimis is a magician in more ways than one.
I”ll conclude this post by saying if you haven’t attended CPSI, plan to do so next year. CPSI 2014 is the 60th anniversary of the longest running creativity conference in the world. I have the intuition that it will be a notably good year for the event. Every creativity and innovation expert around the globe that had been delaying a first time, or a return to the conference, will be there. New people will flock to the event because it has returned to its roots and it provides a valuable, unforgettable, and transformative creativity learning experience.
And when they all go home, next year, they’ll be thinking differently.