TED2017 Produces Creative Inspiration

More than one million people have already heard the historic TED Talk delivered by Pope Francis. The headline-making conference that attracts thought-leaders from around the globe in technology, entertainment and design, this year surprised guests with a talk direct from Vatican City.

Pope Francis, among others at this year’s event titled “The Future You,” called on people to work together, to help one another, and to be creative in our solutions to tomorrow’s problems.

“In order to do good, we need memory, we need courage and we need creativity,” says Pope Francis. “Love requires a creative, concrete and ingenious attitude.”


Creative inspiration radiated from the TED stage. New data suggests people and organizations are increasingly seeking for ways to tap into more creative thinking as economic shifts continue to accelerate. According to recently released joint research from Steelcase and Microsoft, 72 percent of workers believe their future success depends on their ability to be creative. TED2017 offered a unique performance from OK Go, a rock band known for its mostly low-budget, visual delights. The band shared its creative process in a fittingly awe-inspiring way.


OK Go played alongside its intricate video for “This Too Shall Pass.” In the video, the band is part of a Rube Goldberg machine including 130 interactions from the size of a toy truck rolling across a table to a smashed television set. OK Go’s creations have garnered it worldwide attention. “This Too Shall Pass,” for example, has been seen 56 million times on YouTube. So, how do they do it? In an age of CGI and Virtual Reality, how does this rock band come up with ideas that continue to surprise and connect?


Lead singer and guitarist Damian Kulash told the TED audience there’s no shortcut for meticulous planning. “This Too Shall Pass” was filmed in a single-take. It took a month of filling out spreadsheets to get ready to film.


But, that’s just the start. The band puts itself in the right place, at the right time. Then, Kulash says, ideas find them. While they start a video shoot with a very detailed plan, they use the video’s location as a way to explore ideas.

“We have to trust that the process in the sandbox will reveal to us which ideas will not only be surprising but surprisingly reliable,” Kulash said.


Before appearing at TED, Kulash spoke to Medium about his band’s creative process. He explained how planning and exploration go together. He says his team does a lot of trial and error to figure out what will work. And, that by the time they are done, the idea doesn’t look like it did at the beginning.

“What we try to do is get the best idea we can at that desk and then get out into the place where we’re going to be making whatever we’re going to be making and play with it a lot,” says Kulash.


TED - Creativity

While OK Go’s performance added a sense of wonder to TED2017, the theme of creativity took on many different forms. Steelcase, a TED2017 sponsor, showcased Creative Spaces developed in partnership with Microsoft. The immersive ecosystem of spaces brings together place and technology to help people generate new ideas and move them forward. For example, the Duo Studio, shown above, enables shoulder-to-shoulder co-creation as well as individual work. This new set of Creative Spaces includes technology that is both mobile and integrated into the physical environment as well as spaces designed for individual “me” work and “we” group work.

From the Vatican to the concert stage to the workplace, it seems everyone is trying to figure out how to enhance creativity. TED2017 aptly tackled the topic of creativity alongside a robust set of talks about artificial intelligence. As computers and data continue to infiltrate more of our lives, it’s creative ideas and problem solving that will separate human beings from machines.

Featured Topic:  Workplace

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