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Training & Management Magazine, National Magazine for India

Spring in Canada is a most welcome change from winter. But you wouldn't have known it yesterday seeing the last of the snow blustering around the sidewalks here. With spring comes renewal and probably the most pleasure we derive from a new season. - the promise of better things.

In such a spirit I'd like to tell you about an initiative that started here in Canada in 2001 and spread out in just the 3 years since then to over 43 countries and 105 communities across the world - Creativity and Innovation Day - or C.I.D. for short.

It is celebrated on April 21 to commemorate the birthday of Leonardo Da Vinci (his actual birthdate is April 15), the famous Italian painter and inventor whose genius far surpassed the aesthetic realm integrated crossover knowledge from many diverse fields engineering, science, anatomy and the imagination of things yet to come.

This is not the first time I've written here about innovation. I have previously written on the topic of innovation and research communities in Canada and Canada's Innovation Strategy. This is a more formal kind of creativity and it is a creativity that is supported through a grant system that benefits universities, researchers, scholars, and industry. C.I.D. is another kind, it is a grass roots movement driven by people who want to encourage and increase our practice of real creativity in life, business, and society.

C.I.D. is the brainchild of Canadian Marci Segal, a creativity specialist and trainer, who in 2001 read a newspaper article called Canada in Creativity Crisis which motivated her to act. She contacted other colleagues and together they formed a discussion group on the internet.

As a result the first Creativity and Innovation Day event was held on June 1, 2001 "to encourage people all over the world to use their creative capacities to make the world a better place and to make their place in the world better too. It's vision rests on the belief that every person is endowed with the ability to use knowledge, imagination and evaluation to create new and meaningful solutions to meet the challenges we face."

CID provides a time and space where people can feel comfortable expressing their creative abilities, a place where innovation can thrive, and a system of communication so that people all over the world keep informed and feel part of a truly global event. To foster continued creativity and innovation, Idea Week (April 15 - 21) was also developed. During this week, people host activities and programs that welcome, engage and contribute pride in creating and innovating for a personal, professional, community or organizational benefit. For details on how you can participate visit www.creativityday.org.

Canadian company Dofasco Inc., one of Canada's largest steel producers, held weeklong activities last year which included an address from their VP, learning forums held at lunchtime, spotlights on employee artists on their internal website, 'food for thought' creativity quotes on food wrappers in the cafeteria, employee musicians entertaining with diverse musical genres, employee inventors discussing their inventions throughout the plant, musical entertainment in the cafeteria, company wide distribution of a mind map of hints on 'idea generating spaces' and displays of several Science and Engineering Fair Award winners' projects from a competition open to local area Grade Seven through High School students.

This is a great beginning and the support for creativity and innovation needs to grow in the world - a lot! There are some realities in play that limit the amount of human spirit in organizations, among them boring jobs, unjust supervision, restrictive thinking, antagonistic corporate cultures. These are "people-zappers", they limit the potential of innovation by the main contributors, our so-called human capital.

There are things companies can do to liberate creativity and the Dofasco example is great because it celebrated individual creativity. This is a big welcome for other people who may not be inventors or artists or musicians to let them know their ideas are important at work. Other examples on the theme of creative-diversity could be opportunities for career development in different areas.

So, it's a good start. The upward curve is huge. Even the business case, if articulated in terms of Global Innovation Capital is huge. Consider the cost impact of innovation in terms of gross national product and development or even global product - it's trillions. The cost of failing on innovation is even larger - so it's a double-ended impact. Even if there is a 20% difference through shortening the research cycle, increasing the development of new products, making better products, the cost is trillions, the benefits, trillions more. And this is not only an industrial problem, it is a societal one too. There are solutions possible for every human condition. All we have to do now is care enough to want to find them.

Arupa Tesolin, owner of the training firm Intuita, is a consultant, speaker, seminar leader and author of The Intuita 3-Minute Solutions for Innovation, Intuition, Vision & Stress. Her numerous international publications on intuition in business have established her as a thought leader in this field. She is currently working on a new book entitled "Becoming An Intuitive Organization". Contact her at www.intuita.com, intuita@intuita.com or 905.271.7272.

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