I'm going to keep posting on the Fortune Innovation Forum for a while, because I came away with 11+ pages packed with notes, plus the scraps jotted on business cards, the margins of the program, etc. In other words, lots to digest and share. It's likely that the topics will be in no partcular order and probably will overlap some.
Proving the point, the last session of the Forum "Lessons from the Innovator's Studio" gathered the creative talents from the four ongoing workshops exploring the innovation value of play, painting and sculpture, story-telling, and music. The session was capped by blues band perfomances from Face the Music (listen to samples here) and two groups of Forum attendees who had created original blues songs around the innovation experiences at their companies during the workshops.
Before the music ended the show, we heard a summary of the experiences in each workshop from Sophie Marsham, who ran the painting and sculpture workshop (you can see a couple of her paintings hanging behind the band on the main stage), Lea Thau, from the story-telling workshop provided by The Moth (listen to some stories here), Paul Kwiecinski, managing partner from Face the Music Blues (I describe him by his title simply to remind you that these folks are serious business people with much to teach about creativity and innovation as essential business processes), and Andy Stefanovich of Play, mentioned in my initial "live" post from the Forum.
Just a couple of quick takes from my notes:
Lea Thau talked about how framing a business presentation on some new project as a story can help, noting "when you're talking about the future, most people haven't been there [!], so it helps if you can find a way to take them there" -- which stories can do better than bullet lists and S-curve graphs.
Paul Kwiecinski noted that writing and singing "blues songs are not about whining and complaining (that's country!), but about expressing the truth of a situation." He asked, "How true do you want it?" I'm hoping Fortune can find a way to get at least the audio files from the songs performed at the forum posted on their Business Innovation Insider blog.
As I sat listening to their stimulating discussion a startling thought came: the four people sitting on the stage represented sports (play), drama/literature (story-telling), art, and music.
At last year's Forum, Yvonne heard a number of speakers sound the alarm for improving the education system in the U.S. to keep us innovative and competitive. But when most people thank and talk about improving education, they focus on math and science. Often in the same breath they're proposing cuts in spending for "extracurricular" activities.
The deeper lesson from the workshops at this year's Forum might well be that sports, drama/lit, art, and music art not "extracurricular" -- participation in them provides essential tools for business people who aim to lead innovative organizations of any kind.