International Conference Highlights Creative Leadership

July 3, 2008

An international conference has highlighted the importance of creative leadership for dealing with the most urgent problems of the age

Buffalo, New York State was the venue in May 2008 for a conference on Creativity and Innovation Management, Integrating Inquiry and Action.

Keynote speakers highlighted growing interest in creative leadership.

Two for One

The Conference brought together two overlapping networks of researchers and practitioners. The International Center for Studies in Creativity (ICSC), at State University of New York, Buffalo organized the main event, with main sponsors IBM and Fisher Price.

Prior to the main conference, Creativity and Innovation Management Journal (Wiley-Blackwell) held its second community meeting to award its best paper prizes for 2006 and 2007.

The expressed aim of the CIM journal is to

“bridge the gap between theory and practice of organizing imagination and innovation.”

The Best Paper Awards

The prizes for best papers were selected on votes cast by the members of the editorial board of the CIM journal, and awarded by co-founder Susan Moger of Manchester Business School.

The 2006 award went to a team of researchers from the conference host institute, ICSC. The paper traced the development of the Parnes-Osborn system of creative problem-solving to its recent format as a flexible and process-oriented system

The 2007 prize went to a team from the University of Berlin. In a carefully analysed study, the work explored innovation roles in successful highly innovative product-development projects.

Each prize-winning paper offered insights into the contribution of creative leadership in change processes.

Keynote Speakers Highlight Creative Leadership

Creative leadership was a recurrent theme within the meetings. In the overview presentation on Creativity Past Present and Future, Tudor Rickards of Manchester Business School explored the origins of creativity beliefs in cultural myths, and how they developed. Drawing on contemporary examples, he illustrated how visionary and political leadership has contributed to the emergence of the creativity industries, as well as to the transformation of cultural and political systems.

He drew attention to the EEC plans for making 2009 the year of creativity and innovation, and suggested that this might give impetus to a global creativity network.

Subsequent speakers also explored the theme of creative leadership. Michael Mumford warned against mystifying the concept. Professor Mumford pointed to empirical evidence that creative results are crucially influenced by the leader who defines a viable mission in clear terms, encourages developmental learning, assembling and building effective teams, and ensuring efficient planning and implementation.

The two invited business leaders were Casimir DeCusatis of IBM’s Systems and Technology Group, and Miriam Kelley, Vice President for Design from Fisher-Price Toys.

Dr DeCusatis reported on an innovation study conducted within IBM and in particular highlighted distinctions among different innovation teams. His paper appears in the June 2008 issue of CIM journal.

Miriam Kelley examined the strategies deployed at Fisher-Price Toys facilitate fresh ideas and innovation, such as benchmarking across industries, creating an executive position focused strictly on innovation, and introducing deliberate creative processes.

Leaders we deserve has drawn attention to the need for more studies of creative leaders and the processes of creative leadership.

This conference represents a step in the right direction.