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Creativity and the Value of Failure

Cambridge Creativity Lab – an inspiring, stimulating and disruptive workshop for leading innovation

 

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Thomas Edison’s adage “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,” endorses the value of failure in the creative search for a lightbulb moment. But is this relevant to business practice and does innovation, an undoubted source to business growth and sustainability, require the tolerance of failure? Should creatives seek out good failures?

And what do we mean by creativity in a business context? Most people would site Apple as the epitome of creativity. But Steve Jobs wasn’t an original thinker. The iPhone was made up of existing ideas. His creativity was in adapting and connecting what was already there and in developing disruptive business models – the iTunes platform the prime example.

Answers to these questions lie behind the development of The Cambridge Creativity Lab, a two-day creativity workshop which aims to provide a perspective on the management of innovation outside traditional executive education curricula – but one that is crucial to business, especially in a time of global business transformation and uncertainty.

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Join The Cambridge Creativity Lab workshop to unleash your creativity and be a leader of creativity in your organization

Dates: 4-5 July 2019    │ Format: In-class study  │ Location: Cambridge, UK

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Speaking of creativity, Dr Allègre Hadida, Cambridge Creativity Lab Academic Director, says "People think that it’s about producing things, they think of plays, films, paintings, but actually creativity is more about the process. It is about questioning, disrupting and improving on what has come before."

The program delivered by Hadida and Andrzej Moyseowicz, an entrepreneur and former Media Innovations Director for Saatchi & Saatchi, debunks several myths surrounding creativity such as ‘you are born creative’, ‘creativity can’t be taught’, and ‘we don't have time to think creatively’. There is deliberately no compulsory reading list associated with the workshop. Instead, a list of ‘suggested creative stimuli’ is provided, which includes TED Talks, feature films, documentaries, television episodes, music albums, visual arts, and physical activities. Not many programs would recommend watching ‘Die Hard’ as preparation, but Hadida and Moyseowicz believe the film is an excellent example of the necessity to use creativity and innovation in certain situations.

One of the biggest things to learn, say Hadida and Moyseowicz, is that “you can’t be creative if you are afraid to fail.” After all, Edison tried thousands of things before he invented the lightbulb. Hadida uses the phrase “benign failure”– the idea that creativity is about coming up with ideas and acknowledging that some of them might not work, but understanding that eventually one of those will spark. Moyseowicz suggests that one of the hardest things for those in business to develop “is an appetite for helpful failure” because they’ve spent a long time developing an “addiction to success.”

The two-day workshop is an intensive experience aimed at managers and senior-leaders who are not from a creative background but are looking to define a process for developing creativity and innovation within their teams, as well as at entrepreneurs, lawyers and other professionals. It focuses on stimulating personal and collective creativity and on better understanding the importance of creativity and its practical range of applications within a business context and beyond.

The workshop addresses prejudices about creativity, discusses and puts into practice concepts, models, methods and tools of creativity to help participants address live real-world business challenges, and culminates in the ‘creative-hack-a-thon’, a creative pitch competition with presentations delivered to faculty and leading associates of Cambridge Judge Business School.

As Theresa May takes her flawed Brexit deal back to Parliament for the third time it is instructive to think about the need for creativity, the merits of persistence, and the learning potential of failure. This is an entirely appropriate initiative at this time of business uncertainty and, as Dr Hadida points out, at this place – Cambridge University – a hotbed of creativity, having been home to over 100 Nobel Prize winners.


“We deliver executive education experiences to develop the skills and mindsets that push forward the boundaries of value creation.”





 
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