Idea Generation

The Flaming Lips and Economic Development

flaminglips1Consider Attending the Creativity World Forum 2015

As many of you know I’ve participated in the annual State of Creativity Forum in Oklahoma for several years. I’ve written here previously about how effective their model is in getting broad-based involvement, participation, and attendance. This is arguably the most successful creativity conference in the world right now. Those interested in the creativity and innovation field should attend Creativity World Forum 2015 if at all possible. It’s affordable, the content is superb, and it’s a great networking opportunity. It’s in just a few weeks, so register, and make plans now to arrive in Oklahoma City for the March 31st one day event. The illustrious Sir Ken Robinson is  returning as a keynoter (he has a long history with the conference and the state of Oklahoma) and there is a terific line up of speakers from Disney, Lego, Faber-Castell, and other notables from government and education. But wait, there’s more…

The Creativity Forum Conference as a Trigger for Economic Development

This is a great conference for all the usual reasons, but it’s interesting the role a conference like this can have (and has had) on real world economic development. Music fans know that a lot of great talent emerges from Oklahoma — and then moves to Nashville or Austin. Exporting cultural talent is never a good idea if you want to grow the quality of life, and, bottom line, jobs in a region. Jobs and money follow on culture (see Richard Florida). In cities like Nashville, Austin, and San Francisco, technology, manufacturing, and good paying jobs grew dramatically after those cities established a thriving arts culture. Why? Because creative people (of all kinds, not just artists, designers, technologists, etc.) like living in culturally rich places, and, creative people start companies and invent things. And big companies like locating where there is a rich talent pool. Oklahoma City has turned the corner on talent exporting, let me explain.

Oklahoma City is Emerging as a Creative Cultural Center 

and — What do the Flaming Lips have to do with Economic Development?

Here’s an economic development story case-in-point: the good news to report is that as a result of a conversation held several years ago — at the very start of the Creativity Forum — a fantastic music school is prospering in Oklahoma City. The Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) was not a sparkle in anyone’s eye in 2005 when the former president of the University of Central Oklahoma, Roger Webb, and an unknown music promoter, Scott Booker met. Booker happened to be the manager of an OKC based rock band, The Flaming Lips.  In talking, Scott revealed to Dr. Webb that he had graduated as a history major from the University of Central Oklahoma several years prior, but he perhaps could give back to his university and help build the music culture in Oklahoma by teaching a class in music business.

It’s quite a story how that random discussion evolved into a new school that now boasts 500 students in the Bricktown entertainment district area of Oklahoma City. The initial idea grew from one class to an entire curricula. Sir Ken Robinson suggested networking with Paul McCartney’s old school in Liverpool. They visited the ACM school in Guilford, UK, and eventually the University of Central Oklahoma created an ACM degree and school. The school (an official branch of the UK school) has been in operation since 2009, growing fast, and is attracting students from around the USA. Scott Booker is CEO . The school has pulled in such diverse artists as Daft Punk, Ben Folds, and Jackson Browne — to name just a few — to teach and share. If I were 18 and wanting to grow as a music professional I’d go there!

The founding of the school is a direct result of Oklahoma making a decision to support creativity and the conference. When they established the conference in 2005 and invested in staff (President Susan McCalmont is a hands-on visionary) they didn’t know what the results would be, but they had faith in the idea. They took a calculated risk, and their continued support has allowed for the lovely gestation of real world results.  The result of the music school, and the jobs and money flowing into Oklahoma City because of it — is just a beginning, and a very good one. A flourishing arts community bodes well for the economic future of the city and the state.

Kudos Oklahoma, let’s keep hearing such good news. I have no doubt we will. And go to the conference, who knows what magic might happen.

Baby Steps To Breakthrough In Regional Economic Development

Creativity, Innovation, and Economic Development — Embracing the Challenge Better Questions Means Better Answers for Regional Economic Development It’s about Attitudes, Projects, and Baby Steps Economic Development is important and challenging work. Having just interviewed players in this field and surveyed some regional initiatives — it’s clear that innovative work is being done in regional economic development — by some. I suspect that many in the field find the economic development challenge overwhelming. A bit like the Bob character in What about Bob, it’s tough to be creative when you are afraid to take a simple step. Thank you Bill Murray for a memorable character. Let’s face it, some regions always seem to lose out on the new plant. Some

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Seven Essentials of an Effective Innovation Project Manager

Outsourcing innovation project management might be the most strategic money you spend this year. It’s not a new idea but it’s one more companies should consider. It sure beats doing nothing. See my Seven Essentials for hiring below. But first: If you’ve not got an innovation plan in the process of being executed, right now, you are treading water and will eventually drown. So what’s stopping you from kicking off an innovation initiative? I often hear resources. What I hear from top management: “we don’t have the time or resources for innovation projects, we’ll start later this year.” I get it. How is it possible to do this separate thing that requires it’s own focus and resources while keeping the

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Mash-Ups for Innovation, a How To Guide

How to Do Mash-Ups for Innovation This is an article length, comprehensive post on Mash-Ups for Innovation. To say the least Mash-Ups hold great promise in helping people and organizations find useful and sometimes breakthrough innovations. This article will likely be part of a book on the front end of innovation that’s in development, stay tuned. Meanwhile I hope you find this guide useful. To digest this in bits, simply use the index to go to the section that interests you. There is value to reading these sections in order, but for those with an urgent need, you’ll find instructions for facilitation in the Continuum of Mash-Ups and How To sections below. Generally, if you’re looking for more breakthrough results

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Innovation 2015 or Five Lame Excuses?

Death or Kryptonite? I have a  vinyl record with one of those strategic skips that has it repeating — it drives me nuts — but I still play the record because I love the song so much. The song is Jimmy Olsen’s Blues by the Spin Doctors. It’s a hard rocker about the lament of Superman’s pal who has a crush on Superman’s gal. In the song Jimmy Olsen is competing with the man of steel for the affection of Miss Lois Lane. He’s got a secret weapon, a pocketful of Kryptonite. Innovation ca feel a lot like that — your competition is a big tough impossible-to-beat player like Superman. And no matter your size as an organization, you’d better be like

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The Invisible Elephant of Non-Self-Expression

Late Night Dream Anxiety Re: Self-Expression I had a dream last night about self-expression. I dreamed about writing a blog post. I wish I could recall exactly what I wrote in my dreams. The gist of the dream had to do with how pervasive a concept the lack of self-expression is in our lives — so much so that we usually ignore it. The elephant in the creativity and innovation room is a lack of full self-expression. The elephant in the dream — me — was trying to make itself known to an amorphous group in a meeting. I tried to speak but nobody heard my voice. I blew that elephant trumpet and nobody heard. I think the point of

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Want Innovation? Ask.

Not everything about innovation is complicated. I recently gave a creative problem solving workshop to a group of scientists who all worked for the same outfit. It was a lively session. In addition to learning structured creative problem solving (Osborn-Parnes-Basadur framework) we did some short bits of ideation around new business concepts. This was more as a sampler than it was a real session. It wasn’t the goal of the session to reinvent their business, nonetheless, in a short time there were some relevant business growth ideas with potential on the table. An executive with the company remarked after the session that “nobody ever comes to me” with new business ideas. Talking more with this man a reason why emerged:

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FAQ Re: Dr. Alan Black

Greetings from gray and chilly Three Oaks, Michigan. As gloomy as it is, I’m grateful to be here and free. Freedom is not something we should take for granted. Later this morning I’ll take a walk outside around my pond and say prayers for my friend Alan Black. I might take a photograph. When he’s released I hope he’ll come visit me here so we can enjoy a walk outside together — and photograph whatever catches our eye. Below is the latest information from Friends of Alan Black. The FAQ pretty much says it all. Much of this has been covered in news reports, but FAB thought it would be helpful to put all the facts into one document. Alan’s

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Help Detained USA Citizen In Abu Dhabi

This is a departure for this blog. While there is a direct connection to creativity and innovation it is essentially a press release written by concerned leaders in the creativity and innovation international community. One of our own, Dr. Robert Alan Black, has been detained in Abu Dhabi. The details are below. My request is that if you are so moved, please contact the offices of your elected officials. USA citizens can find contact information here.  Press Release For Immediate Release Contact:                     Rosemary Rein Phone number:       239-910-3354 Email:                  American Creativity Expert Detained In Abu Dhabi Friday October 31, 2014 – Athens, Georgia. Dr. Robert Alan Black, an Athens resident, is being held in Al Wathba prison in

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Four Criteria for Hiring an Innovation Speaker

Four Criteria for Hiring an Innovation Keynoter Let this post work as a guide for meeting planners. You don’t have to hire me as your innovation speaker, but if you hire one, you’ll be well served if you pay attention to these four criteria and my comments in bold. Innovation is a complex, wonky topic and it has some special requirements that go beyond the classic things meeting planners look for in a speaker. Let’s keep this simple and as neutral as possible — my shameless personal plug is at the very bottom. I’m even going to suggest my competition here. So here goes, in my view an Innovation Speaker should: 1. Have a background as a successful entrepreneur and/or

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