This week I organised a workshop with Paul Clifford, expert in digital creativity, open source hardware and learning differently. It was the first workshop in a series on cultural, institutional innovation. We built keyboards out of fruit, a dance-machine with post-its and a robot that made Pollockian drawings. In the wrap-up, one of the participants mentioned he found that hands-on workshops like these are a great tool to talk about tougher institutional issues.

The day after, I ran my own workshop in the Children’s Museum of the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam. Together with the participants, we experimented with design thinking for the Golden Rule, one of the guiding principles of the museum. It was a perfect workshop, with highly engaged participants, smart kids to validate ideas as our client, and an inspirational space full of musical instruments, a bed and other things that added energy to the event.

Talking with participants afterwards, they mentioned being amazed by the amount of solutions they came up with, and their own creativity in solving a tough problem.

My response (a cliche):

  1. People tend to underestimate their own creativity and problem-solving capabilities.
  2. The tools we use traditionally to solve problems, are often the wrong once for the challenge. There’s nothing more ill-equipped for the task than a corporate brainstorm.
  3. Creative ways of working together make our innate creativity more accessible and help us solve everyday problems. Even something as simple as singing in a ‘serious’ environment (my favourite warming up exercise at the moment) helps.
  4. At the heart of these creative ways of working together are making, doing, moving… Anything rather than talking.
  5. This works anywhere, with anyone, for all possible problems and challenges. No exceptions.

(It can be scary, I agree. I’m always insecure about asking people to do more than write ideas on post-its, but never disappointed when I did.)

Paul Clifford called ‘making’ the biggest global phenomenon you’ve never heard of. People all over the world, all the time, make stuff. We prepare food, tend our gardens or create a poster for a party. When we do, we use our creativity. And when we start using our creativity, nothing is impossible.

Earlier this week, together with Erik Schilp, I launched the kickstarter campaign for Cards for Culture. It’s a creative, playful approach to helping you help your organisations develop better strategies, respond to trends, etc. etc. From our pilots we know it can help teams solve their own problems in a way that is, as we like to say ‘more action-driven than a management book, more long-term than a conference and less expensive than a consultant.’ All by making people work together creatively, and tapping into their own creativity.