Innovation is the stuff of legend. Yet we understand so little about the process. Is the creative spirit in our nature or our nuture? Is it competitive or collaborative? Is it the chicken? Or is it the egg?
That’s the answer I took home from the OtA Sessions—Originality and Action thnkfest in Sioux Falls last week. Despite the April Fools date and the jolly faces all around, this was no light hearted affair. MC, organizer & chief bottle washer Hugh Weber brought together a diverse group of folks in Sioux Falls last year to, as he says, Work, Play and Do Good things:
The OTA Sessions are a chance for all of us Midwesterners to shatter the perception that creativity and thought leadership in business, marketing, communications and education live solely on the east and west coasts.
“OTA” is a bit of a play on words, too. Not just Originality nor just Action, but both in the context of the Upper Great Plains states: South DakOTA, North DakOTA, MinnesOTA. Plus a few Iowans thrown in to keep it interesting. This year’s session didn’t disappoint.
The agenda laundry list of speakers doesn’t do the day justice.
- Sally Hogshead, ad maven & author of Fascinate
- CC Chapman & Ann Handley, marketers & co-authors of Content Rules
- John Winsor, CEO of Boulder crowdsourcing firm Victors & Spoils
- Jeff Slobotski & Dusty Davidson, founders of Silicon Prairie News and the Big Omaha event in a similar (#AHA11?) context
- Ellen McGirt, covering the world for Fast Company magazine
- Rod Arnold, COO of charity: water.
Pretty cool stuff. I took pages of notes I could type up and post here, but they wouldn’t convey the spirit of the event….and be dusty dry boring if you hadn’t been there. There’s good stuff there, don’t get me wrong. Sally Hogshead is a whirling diva urging us to, as she said, “Embrace what you are.” She certainly has. Ann Handley & CC Chapman had some great tips on creating compelling content. Ellen McGirt related her Ground Zero story to the wide open spaces of South Dakota. Really. Good stuff.
The thing is, the energy of the event came out of the crowd. The sense of a couple hundred people sharpening their saws. The buzz over lunch as each table was challenged to apply originality to old problems—to re-imagine problems as opportunities for action.
So I’m going to go counter-intuitive on this one. I’m gonna slow down, let it perc a bit. Tip my hat to the Rural Learning Center for the invite and take some time to process the data, turn it into information. Maybe that’s my newfound Mystique trigger talking… if you read Sally’s book you’ll know what I mean.