Three quotes, three lessons

 As Activar’s President and Cofounder, I participated in an inspiring course named “Management of Creativity in an Innovation Society”, offered by HEC Montréal and the Universitat de Barcelona. The 15-day summer school was held in two of the world’s most creative cities, Montréal and Barcelona, and gathered 70 international participants (graduate students, professionals and professors) to learn about and compare processes and methods to manage creativity and develop innovation.

Rich of content and chockfull of experiences, I have decided to focus my first testimony for the course on three quotes that have sparked further reflection on my part.

1. “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

– Rick Seifeddine, SVP Brand, Bell, Montréal, Canada, citing Mark Twain

The context: During a presentation at Bell, Canada’s largest telecommunications company, SVP Brand, Rick Seifeddine, explained that the best messages and brands are those that have emanated from a rigorous thought process that he called: the “reduction”.

The lesson: Less is more. Sending someone an email, a briefing or a proposal that is concise takes more time and effort then a “brain dump”, but may prove to be more effective, especially if you can boil down your questions to “yes” or “no” answers.

The application: Read something a second, even a third time before you send it. Ask for input, as advancement and innovation comes from a diversity of references, not just your own. 

2. “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.”

– Lucie Janvier, Artist Training Director, Cirque du Soleil, Montréal, Canada, quoting an African proverb

The context: During a team exercise at HEC Montréal, Lucie Janvier from the Cirque du Soleil shared with us that she abides by this philosophy with her team.

The lesson: During collective creative processes, such as a brainstorming or a co-design session, although listening to everyone’s idea can take more time, you’ll be better off for it. This is especially true if participants come from different backgrounds; they’ll push ideas to a level that without group discussion would not have been attainable.

The application: Give teamwork a try. Listen to others. Involve people in your process of creation. You might even merge two or more seemingly unrelated ideas in the wonderful innovative process of bissociation (the word of the week at the summer school!).

3. “Upgrade reality so that projects match people’s ambitions and creativity.”

– Enric Ruiz Geli, Founder of the innovative architectural firm, Cloud 9, Barcelona, Spain

The context: During an amazing visit of the Media TIC project in Barcelona, the inspiring lead architect, Enric Ruiz Geli, who specializes in emulating nature through innovative design, shared with us his belief that we are more creative and ambitious than what we see around us. Barcelona’s architecture epitomizes this “upgrading of reality”; each new innovative building creates a reference for the next.

The lesson: Reality is what you want it to be, it is not limited to what has been done before you.

The application: Step outside your comfort zone, into the unknown, the untested. If you truly innovate, your work, your projects will become the new reference and in turn, will inspire others to be creative.