Ci2011: Bringing Creativity & Business Together

The innaugural Creative Innovation Conference was described last year by Micenet Australia Magazine as “The Best Conference Ever”. Last week I, and two of my associates, attended Creative Innovation 2011 and I can un-ashamedly say that it was indeed the best conference ever.

Creative Innovation 2011 brought together world-leading thinkers in the areas of innovation, business, cognitive thinking, invention, philosophy, creativity, and strategic and organisational planning and development.

Never before have I attended a conference where I was never bored, where the mix of speakers was varied yet related, where the timing was seamless, punchy and perfect, where entertainment was not simply distraction but was meaningfully woven into the fabric of the conference itself, where the venue was stylish and pleasant and not overwhelming or tacky, and where the conference participants were genuinely enlivened, challenged and clearly felt a real sense of connection to the ideas, the speakers and each other.

World famous thought leaders and thinkers like Dr Edward de BonoProfessor Daniel DennettRaymond Kurzweil and Brendan Boyle rubbed shoulders with each other and the conference participants. Major names in Australian business, like Steve Vamos, Non Executive Director at TelstraPip Marlow, Managing Director at Microsoft Australia and Simon McKeon, Chairman of Maquarie Group (Melbourne) and 2011 Australian of the Year, presented stream-lined, engaging addresses full of life and applicable, sensible, practical advice and thought-provoking ideas. Gifted and inspired young thinkers and problem solvers like Victor Finkel and Tan Le brought not only new ideas and ways of seeing, but hope, inspiration and light.

Ci2011 was sponsored by the crème de la crème of Australian business: ANZ was the major sponsor, supported by GEThe Financial Review Group, Telstra, Deloitte, and many others, as well as the Victorian State Government and many Australian universities including Deakin, La Trobe, The University of Melbourne and Swinburne.

We were honoured to have played a role in the conference too, by using the me2Creativity Diagnosis to assess the creativity of applicants for the conference scholarship programe, an inspired innovation which allows for 10 people to not only attend, but to pitch their ideas for change & innovation in 60 second presentations interspersed throughout the conference. Our study revealed a number of interesting characteristics about the creative make-up of the 2011 scholarship applicants and their creative style, and helps to identify the various traits that indicate creative out-put and approach, and it would be interesting indeed to compare the results of the 2011 group with applicants in other years. (A summary of the report appears on pages 18 & 19 of the conference program, and the full report is on the Ci2011 website.)

Creative Innovation is the brain-child of Melbourne soprano and social entrepreneur, Tania de Jong AM who, with the help of her stellar team from Creative Universe and Creativity Australia, and backed-up by the organisational support of Baldwin Consulting (for whom nothing was too much trouble) managed to change the medium of a conference presentation into something much more like an art-piece. The end result was well envisioned, beautifully orchestrated and delivered, and had charm, meaning and provided every participant with considerable food for thought and spirit.

There is much more I could say about this astonishing event, like the way MC Michael Pope managed to keep it running smoothly, effortlessly and with great aplomb and wit, like the brilliance of the young performers such as Stefan Cassomenos and Andrew Suttar or the grace, wisdom and palpable kindliness of the trio of luminary Conference Ambassadors and chairs Hugh MorganSir Gustav Nossal and Professor Alan Fels, but I’m running out of space.

To find out more (and there is much more!) I highly recommend you visit theconference website, and do everything you can to be there next year!

This was not the sort of conference that inspires you on the day but quickly leaves you. This is the kind of event that stays with you like good theatre or an outstanding concert: it touches you and changes you, and you feel its effect permanently.

I didn’t know a conference could effect me like an artwork, which is the point: leading businesses like ANZ, thinkers like de Bono and artists like Tania de Jong understand that creativity is the spark that ignites all future development, innovation and inspiration.

The vision, organisation and delivery of the Creative Innovation Conference, begun as an idea over drinks, shows how creativity and business so easily comes together. All really successful outcomes take an inspired idea and build on it with commitment, planning and thorough organisation, to produce the delivery of an ultimate result that is greater than the sum of it’s parts. It’s true of business, innovation, art, sport and all successful human endeavour.

Creativity is what takes us to the future, and unites us. Creative Innovation 2011 proved that.

Lynette Jensen


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