Summary: Creativity Workshop

On thursday, the 27th of September at the Sana Metropolitan, Henriette and I conducted a Creativity Workshop as a preamble to SHiFT06. I had very much looked forward to doing this workshop as it had a lot of firsts associated with it. First I had never worked together with Henriette. Second, I had never lead or created a creativity workshop. Third, this was the first SHiFT ever happening in Lisbon, and it was happening due to the initiative and hard work of a handful of very enterprising Portuguese geeks.

In brief, we had a few breakdowns and a great workshop.

We went into a discovery process of what it is that creativity is guided by the findings of Mihaly Csikezentmihalyi as reported in Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention after we all shared what our goals and agendas for the day were.

Discovery is always a fun process for me; I do like to pick people’s brains and be challenged to be both present and thinking. Being present while leading a workshop means that I am listening while I am listening and that I am sharing my on the spot – as it happens – thinking with the participants while keeping an eye on the goals and living through my agenda. Yes, it is a tall order. For me, anything else would not involve play and it would not be fun.

I was particularly impressed by the level of authenticity, sincerity and engaged thinking that all participants brought into the workshops. At the end of the day we did a round of checking against the goals for the day. While the big sparkling fireworks of creativity were not discovered during the workshop, all got an added insight and expanded their own view of creativity, myself included.

We started with the premise that we do not know what creativity is, and that it is not important to know what it is in order to create. According to Mihaly Csikezentmihalyi creativity ca be understood as the result of interaction in a system consisting of three different elements: Domain, Field (the people “established” in the domain) and the Individual. These three elements are embedded in what we call Culture. The point is, although the individual is the one “doing” the creation, it is in the interaction with the other elements that the novel creation gains acceptance and/or assimilation into the domain.

The breakdowns had to with the organization and the communication around the workshop, at the last minute somehow it all came together. My thanks go to Pedro, Hugo, Bruno and André for the opportunity we had to work together, and to Henriette for her continued support during the preparation and during the workshop.


Creativity Applied

It is just a few days before SHIFT gets going later this week. I have been working on the script for the Creativity Workshop for the last week, and living right through a lot of what creativity is about: exchanging ideas and IM-skyping with Henriette, having a cat fight with a toothlesstiger wiki, getting the accounting to my bookkeeper so that he can file my already overdue 2005 tax return, fiddling with unsexy subjects, answering email, writing letters, thinking up of excuses, and being me.

I am rather looking forward to this Creativity Workshop because I have a rather hidden agenda that I am about to share with you, that is, that we all – participants and trainers – both learn something about creativity and about ourselves.

While I have lead a few workshops in the corporate environment and the political arena, this is my first one on Creativity. So I had to start at the very beginning on a subject which is so dear to me and which I have been studying for years. If nothing else, creativity is indeed like the air that I breathe, it is everywhere. And like the air that I breathe, it is not obvious, and nobody thinks much about it.

So what is it that creativity is about?

Come and find out and bring a few preconceived ideas, your own prejudices and be ready to face the unexpected.

Happening at a place near you: Lisbon September 27, 28 and 29

Together with Henriette Weber Anderson I am co-leading a whole day workshop on creativity September 27 prior to SHIFT (28-29 September, 2006) in Lisbon. Besides this I will also be giving a presentation about intellectual property and knowledge ownership during the SHIFT event.

About the creativity workshop:

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves. Carl Jung”

We are all born very creative and screaming. We go to school, learn to add and do other fancy stuff, and most of the time forget how be creative. In this “Creativity Workshop” we will playfully provide you with a remedial one day crash course aimed at having you claim back some of that creativity that you were born with, and borrow some more from your own resources. We will not solve all your creative problems and we do not promise that you will see God, however we do plan to have some fun looking into several aspects of creativity that are important in technology and life. This is an applied workshop, do come prepared to work on your own goals and to scream.




When it comes to SHIFT, Lisbon, Portugal and Creativity I am totally biased. My view is that creativity can be a can or worms if not handled properly, however there are some serious people who have been methodological about looking into it, so I feel sage – or as sage as any of this can feel – about tackling creativity in an interactive workshop where we, trainers and participants, get to do some fun playful thinking about what creativity means to them, and what use, if any, it could possibly have in their daily lives.


I have found myself recently trying to pick the brains of an Italian venture capitalist about this thing called creativity. I was fascinated by the fact that he responded that it is very important that the managing teams of the ventures that he looks into be creative, however I was unable to extract from him how he judged the presence of that creativity or what criteria he used for his assessment. So, how do you assess creativity?

Why am I biased when it comes to Lisbon and Portugal? Well, I was born in Portugal and if there is one thing that I have ever regretted in my life, that is, to have left that country. I hold no nationalistic views, however it is one beautiful piece of real estate! I love the language, and language is culture. I love the food, and food is culture.

SHIFT is being organized by Pedro Custodio and his team in Lisbon for the first time this year. He has been inspired by events like lift06 and reboot and I would like to think that this is the Atlantic coast flavour of these two great events (conference, unconference).