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Friendship: A Wellspring of Creativity

By / June 3, 2016 / / 0 Comments

Last week, I had the good fortune to attend C2 Montréal for the first time. Since its inception, it has become a not-to-be-missed event for anyone interested in best practices in the field of innovation.

Plural sector well represented at C2 Montréal

A great deal has been said and written about this lively event originated by Sid Lee and Cirque du Soleil and the way it brings business and creatives together in a format that’s like a cross between Burning Man and TED talks.

For my part, I was surprised to see how well the plural sector was represented, from social entrepreneurs to NPOs, and how much the organizations I work with on a daily basis stood to benefit from what the event can teach them about creativity.

Design thinking, creativity and friendship

But what really struck me the most was probably the presentation by Paul Bennett and Tim Brown, respectively Chief Creative Officer and CEO and President of IDEO, a firm that specializes in design thinking and has developed a method for reinventing just about anything. From wonky grocery carts to overflowing prisons and from vacant playgrounds to obsolete education systems, it seems there isn’t anything they can’t handle.

The key to their success? Friendship.

Because, as these long-standing collaborators explain, friendship can be a great wellspring of creativity.

It’s an idea that might seem surprising at first, but after hearing the list of their accomplishments, you want to know more. It turns out their reasoning is pretty straightforward.

The fundamentals of friendship—being part of a team, wanting your partners to succeed, being able to count on one another, sharing in other people’s successes and failures, feeling confident enough to try something new and having fun—are also winning conditions for creativity.

It makes sense.

Pushing the limits

Listening to Bennett and Brown, I was immediately reminded of the Opéra de Montréal’s production of Les Feluettes (Lilies). By the creators’ own admission, it was their long-standing bonds of friendship that were the driving force behind the project and gave them the courage to embark on the risky venture of creating an opera that—for the first time ever—features a love story between two men, with staging that pushes back the technical limits of traditional opera, all presented in front of a relatively conservative audience.

When their daring vision was paired with the Opéra de Montréal’s open-mindedness and need to connect with new audiences, it made for a perfect match. And today, as the opera company prepares to push the boundaries again next year with the creation of Another Brick in the Wall, its gamble is well on its way to paying off.

Daring to change the world

There are many stories of friendship and success. Atypic is one. Just like IDEO, clearly, and like the Opéra de Montréal’s production of Les Feluettes too.

And so, my wish is for everyone in the plural sector to experience that same friendship, and to make the most of the creativity and bold new approaches it can lead to. As the number of organizations around us continues to rise, it’s probably the only way to stand out from the crowd and ensure your long-term survival.

And of course, it’s by being creative that we can hope to change the world!

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