Courtesy of

Courtesy of

How can society enhance creative thinking and embrace new ideas?

Answering this question was the primary focus of the 25th annual Emerging Issues Forum that was held in Raleigh, North Carolina this past week. Though the forum is geared towards improving the lives of those who live in North Carolina, the discussion benefits us all.

Various speakers participated in the 2-day event including U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, author Daniel Pink, and jazz singer Nnenna Freelon.

After reviewing some notes and news reports concerning the event, a few things caught my eye.

One, I noticed that I wasn’t invited. :-)

Two, I noticed several notable ideas on encouraging creativity and creative ideation in our society.


Many politicians talk about the need for creativity and innovation, and then make the conclusion that improved education in engineering and science is the answer.   Roger Martin, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management says otherwise. According to Martin, the key to creative thinking is the study of literature, history, and other liberal arts.

“We seem to be headed to a world where we’re ever-exalting analytic thinking over creativity,” Martin said. “If anyone here thinks we’re going to fend off the challenge from India and China by being more analytical, then I have one thing to say to you: Good luck.”

Accepting Failure

Often times our pursuit of creative endeavors, or our pursuing of a creative approach to problems, can be derailed by failures. However, according to author and speaker Tom Kelley, creativity means being willing to accept failure. This is a very good point considering that failure provides new information that we can use in our journey towards eventual success.


Lastly, I noticed that jazz music seemed to play prominent role in the conference. For one, jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon was a participant in the event. For another, CD’s were distributed at the conference that featured North Carolina jazz greats such as Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane.

It’s great to see that the need for creativity is being addressed and that various creative “voices” were invited to participate.

You can visit the event’s official website here: Emerging Issues Forum