No Image Available

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

The art of inspiration


From painting to music making, this week’s National Learning forum on creativity aimed to inspire delegates with new methods for innovating in the training room. Nigel Paine reports.

Why is it that at the heart of our economic squeeze, when budgets are tight and jobs are still disappearing at an alarming speed, there is more and more interest in the power of creativity and innovation in the workplace? In an effort to find out, I attended the Campaign for Learning’s one day Creativity forum: 'Creativity and Innovation - 99% Inspiration, 1% Perspiration?' which drew together over 50 people from a multitude of different institutions; from schools to prisons.

It was a day of ideas and challenges and delegates were presented with a wide variety of experiences from the conventional PowerPoint presentation, round table discussion and participation, to a great wake-up session after lunch which involved playing various instruments in a 50 strong rhythm band.

However interesting this musical mayhem was, it still begged the question: why organise something like this? “This is one of the great cross-sector themes where there is growing interest,” explains Tricia Hartley, the campaign’s chief executive. “Creativity and innovation concern everyone involved in how people of all ages learn, and how you can help them become productive, fulfilled human beings.”

Five lessons learnt:

1. We all have to get better at working with difference, or coping with paradox as Gary Hamel would say.

2.There is huge value in the half-baked, do not expect people to bring all the answers all the time as this inhibits conversation.

3. Value what can be achieved in the long-term, not everything is a short-term project.

4. Keep asking questions! That is how you learn.

5. Include people in the conversation who ‘don’t get it’."

In addition to the group presentations there were plenty of discussion groups such as the ‘story to develop creative thinking skills’ and the ‘painting to enliven the thinking process’. These ‘active’ sessions were separated by more formal presentations given by universities and specialist companies working on developing creative spaces and skills.

Such a multi-faceted approach made for an interesting and inspirational day and even activities like drawing with chalks for the first time in decades, being held accountable for some of the awful learning that goes on in some workplaces and being forced to recognise that developing creativity in primary schools has more to teach a corporate training department than the other way round made the experience all the richer.

The enduring message was, try new things, but think them through first. The key and core of learning is about sharing and conversation and people having fun. This can be face to face or online – it is not a lonely endeavour. Rather, it is about groups surprising themselves when they catch a tiny glimpse of what they are, actually, capable of when they work effectively together.

Ultimately it is about helping people reach their potential, which will help workplaces reach theirs. These two things are, in the end, inseparable. Miserable people are rarely creative. Unhappy workplaces rarely break new ground.

My top ten inspirational moments

1. Michael Boyd, artistic director of the RSC, talked about ‘flappy valves’, allowing ideas in, sharing ideas almost simultaneously, and allowing for the unexpected insight as his key conditions for creativity.

2. Achievement should be defined as excellence plus creativity. Excellence is no longer enough, yet most people at school or at work get very little acknowledgement for their creative contribution.

3. Creativity is about authenticity and is a more democratic way of organising and rewarding teams.

4. Ideas can only be realised in partnership: New learners of the twenty-first century need three key traits: playfulness, participation, and pluralism to develop endless possibilities.

5. There is a key process moving from WHAT to HOW. Creativity resides in doing things, and improving things not just talking about things.

6. A creative agenda moves us from a low trust / audit culture, to a high trust / open culture.

7. Creativity is about creating the conditions in which sustainable change can happen.

8. We all need ‘dreaming spaces’ away from the workstations.

9. As the world changes, we have an obligation to prepare people as best we can to thrive in that world. This requires a paradigm shift in learning and a form of complex creativity.

10. If you want to explore new lands, you have to lose sight of the shoreline.

Nigel Paine is a former head of training and development at the BBC and now runs his own company, Nigel which focuses on people, learning and technology. Read other articles from Nigel here and here

No Image Available

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!