Creativity World Forum featured speakers on global innovation

Last week’s Creativity World Forum (CWF) opened with a quote from poet Charles Wright about the landscapes within us and about us and a performance of the Willy Wonka song “Pure Imagination” by Oklahoma City musician Graham Colton.

CWF is one of the world’s largest conferences of its type. Established by international Districts of Creativity Network, it brings global leaders together to discuss business, education and innovation of all types.

Creative Oklahoma hosted the event as part of the organization’s mission to promote our state as North America’s crossroads of innovative entrepreneurship and collaboration.

Local businessman and former Olympic gymnast Bart Conner opened the daylong event as he greeted guests from 11 nations and 25 states.

This year’s overarching theme was that anything is possible when people work together and facilitate dialogue.

“This life is absurd,” said speaker and psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman during the March 31 gathering. “There are these authorities and leaders, and we think they know everything. Kids need to be taught to challenge them and be their own advocates.”

Kaufman said he was a special education student until ninth grade. He convinced his high school administration to give him a trial run at non-special education classes.

Given the opportunity, he thrived.

With this same passion of pursuit, Kaufman pushed through barriers and stigmas to gain a psychology degree from Carnegie Mellon and a Ph.D. from Yale. He created the Imagination Network, which consists of our more creative functions, things like daydreaming, future planning, compassion, reading fiction, retrieval of personal memories and reflective consideration of experiences.

We should promote these things, Kaufman said, and learn to recognize important indicators of creative achievement, called “beyonder characteristics” — things like deep thinking, tolerance of mistakes, feeling comfortable as a minority of one and, most importantly, falling in love with a future version of ourselves.

The world is in the midst of a global shift. The 20th century industry, so heavily focused on production and accompanying infrastructure, is being replaced by a conceptual industry where ideas reign.

Another speaker, Deborah Wince-Smith, president of the United States Council on Competitiveness, calls it an ideation industry or a “conception economy.” Particularly within the sectors of information gathering and development in digital, biological, nano- and cognitive technologies, opportunity abounds to harness the convergence of this knowledge.

“The physical and digital worlds are converging,” Wince-Smith said. “Artists must think like engineers, engineers like artists.”

The concept of community impact through creative solutions was exemplified by OKC’s own transformation of the North Canadian River.

“Imagine one of the ugliest ditches you can crossing through your city,” Mike Knopp, executive director of the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation.

From years of planning and work a world-premier rowing and watersport facility — the home of the United State Olympic team and a rapidly expanding cultural, social and artistic complex — arose.

“Because why not,” he said.

Print headline: Changing minds, Last week’s Creativity World Forum highlighted global industry leaders with ideas and concepts that also inspire our city’s growth and development.

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