Combinatorial Creativity & STORY

The STORY Event Series started at the tail end of 2015. The series emerged from a client engagement. I was asked to help introduce a company based out of Los Angeles to the DC market. The company focused on storytelling and through this experience I became aware of what an incredible community of storytellers existed in Washington, DC. I continued working with this community which resulted in the start of what was, at the time, a small event series. My vision for the series was to have a room full of these incredibly talented professionals, sharing insights into their work, and walking away with ideas for collaboration and innovation. Our first year we held events on a monthly basis. As you might expect this was a somewhat taxing affair, especially as I was doing this in my spare time. As challenging as it was (time-wise), the outcome exceeded my expectations. I could not have asked for a better partner than Interface Media Group and, together, we saw the series continue to grow over the year. There was some trial and error - we held events based on a particular topic (e.g. virtual reality) and whatever topic was represented, naturally the crowd would consist of those interested in that topic. I realized during the course of the year that this was not what I had hoped to achieve with the series.  What I was aiming for was something a bit more abstract based on how I understood creativity and innovation to occur. The basis for the series is something called combinatorial creativity.  Combinatorial creativity is the ability to create new combinations from existing resources resulting in the most powerful force for creativity and innovation. By recombining ideas, new and potentially unknown possibilities emerge. You can read more about combinatorial creativity here and here. Recognizing that the goal of the series is to pull into a room creatives and storytellers from disparate backgrounds to hear different presentations across of range of topics - we set out to change the format of the series. We moved to more speakers, shorter presentations and aimed for the widest possible range of subjects during the evening. For example, for our September 2017 event, we have speakers discussing everything from modern ballet to augmented reality to the role of social psychology in filmmaking.  My hope is that someone will hear the presentation on modern ballet and augmented reality and come up with an idea that encompasses both. And to have it that the STORY event was instrumental in the creation of the idea? Perfect. I was once asked how I was able to come up with my ideas as a creative since I don’t watch much television (my opinion: nothing creative happens on television). My largest contract won to-date was when I pitched a series of projects to a client and the pitch made references to everything from jumbo perms to the the work of Brutalist architect Louis Kahn. How does jumbo perms relate to Brutalism? All I can say is that the creative mind sees connections where others may assume none exist. So when I get the question as to whether the STORY series is just another TED event, my answer is an aggressive “no”. While there may be similarities, the STORY series is designed with a specific outcome in mind (and a specific audience in mind). And while I have deep admiration for the work of the TED series (and even worked on a TED event), the STORY series was never meant to simply be an exercise in intellectual candy (though some certainly some see it as such). The hope is the series spurs collaboration and innovation. All said, I hope to see you on Monday, September 18th for our next event.

The STORY Event Series started at the tail end of 2015. The series emerged from a client engagement. I was asked to help introduce a company based out of Los Angeles to the DC market. The company focused on storytelling and through this experience I became aware of what an incredible community of storytellers existed in Washington, DC. I continued working with this community which resulted in the start of what was, at the time, a small event series.

My vision for the series was to have a room full of these incredibly talented professionals, sharing insights into their work, and walking away with ideas for collaboration and innovation.

Our first year we held events on a monthly basis. As you might expect this was a somewhat taxing affair, especially as I was doing this in my spare time. As challenging as it was (time-wise), the outcome exceeded my expectations. I could not have asked for a better partner than Interface Media Group and, together, we saw the series continue to grow over the year.

There was some trial and error - we held events based on a particular topic (e.g. virtual reality) and whatever topic was represented, naturally the crowd would consist of those interested in that topic. I realized during the course of the year that this was not what I had hoped to achieve with the series. 

What I was aiming for was something a bit more abstract based on how I understood creativity and innovation to occur.

The basis for the series is something called combinatorial creativity

Combinatorial creativity is the ability to create new combinations from existing resources resulting in the most powerful force for creativity and innovation. By recombining ideas, new and potentially unknown possibilities emerge.

You can read more about combinatorial creativity here and here.

Recognizing that the goal of the series is to pull into a room creatives and storytellers from disparate backgrounds to hear different presentations across of range of topics - we set out to change the format of the series. We moved to more speakers, shorter presentations and aimed for the widest possible range of subjects during the evening. For example, for our September 2017 event, we have speakers discussing everything from modern ballet to augmented reality to the role of social psychology in filmmaking. 

My hope is that someone will hear the presentation on modern ballet and augmented reality and come up with an idea that encompasses both. And to have it that the STORY event was instrumental in the creation of the idea? Perfect.

I was once asked how I was able to come up with my ideas as a creative since I don’t watch much television (my opinion: nothing creative happens on television). My largest contract won to-date was when I pitched a series of projects to a client and the pitch made references to everything from jumbo perms to the the work of Brutalist architect Louis Kahn. How does jumbo perms relate to Brutalism? All I can say is that the creative mind sees connections where others may assume none exist.

So when I get the question as to whether the STORY series is just another TED event, my answer is an aggressive “no”.

While there may be similarities, the STORY series is designed with a specific outcome in mind (and a specific audience in mind). And while I have deep admiration for the work of the TED series (and even worked on a TED event), the STORY series was never meant to simply be an exercise in intellectual candy (though some certainly some see it as such). The hope is the series spurs collaboration and innovation.

All said, I hope to see you on Monday, September 18th for our next event.

 

 

Ann Yoders