Q: Why are you involved with Awaken?

A: Jim Wardlaw was a student in our graduate program for creativity and change leadership, and he got me involved in last year’s Awaken conference. He reached out to me for Awaken 2020, stating that this was the right audience to hear a presentation on creative thinking and the workplace. Jim is very much into helping organizations solve complex problems. When you have a complex problem and no apparent solution, you need the highest level of human thought, which is creative thinking. We generate energy when we create, and when you use your imagination, you’re drawing on resources you may not have even known you had. You’re AWAKENING your spirit and feeling purpose and meaning in your life. Bringing creativity into Awaken 2020 seemed like a perfect fit.

Q: What is the nature of your presentation?

A: I’ll be doing two presentations. One workshop focuses on creative thinking as a 21st-century business skill. To be successful in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world that’s changing so rapidly, leaders need to have skills that allow them to be flexible and to adapt. Creative thinking is the core of that. It’s the ability to produce novel ideas that solve complex problems. Therefore, because creative thinking is the ability to produce novel ideas, it’s a skill that’s necessary in every industry and in our daily lives. Sadly, our educational experiences don’t really facilitate creative thinking; in fact, they can often have a dampening effect on it. My second presentation builds from this, though it focuses more on leadership. Leadership is a reflection of the context. Leaders in different industries require different skills, and for that reason, leaders need to be creative. It’s important for them to embody the spirit of creative thinking in order to be successful by engaging other creative minds to address complex problems.

Q: In your opinion, why is organizational culture important?

A: It’s absolutely crucial because the culture sets the tone for the kind of thinking and problem solving that happens within an organization. Culture shapes the individual. If you’re in a culture that promotes creative thinking, you’re more likely to be able to solve complex problems. If we help leaders be creative thinkers, it assists them in setting a culture that’s more open-minded and will be much more effective. If you’re not innovative in this economy, you’ll soon be out of business. Culture is critical for success!

Q: What are you looking forward to at this year’s Awaken conference?

A: Last year, there was so much talent. It was a blast! I’m looking forward to interacting with the participants and the other presenters. The level of presenters that Jim has brought together is amazing. It’s such a super talented group of people.

Q: Attendees will be learning a great deal from you and other presenters at Awaken 2020. What specifically do you hope to learn?

A: I’m looking forward to the interactions and attending the other workshops. One of the reasons I’m a university professor and do trainings and speeches is that I always learn something from these interactions. It’s a way for me to stay fresh. My workshops are small and hands-on. I get stimulated by gaining new insights, hearing new stories, and learning new examples. When I’m delivering, engaging, and sharing my mastery with others, it awakens things inside of me.

Learn more about creative thinking and its role in leadership from Gerard at Awaken 2020! Get your tickets here.