Saturday, September 06, 2008

Creative Camp Belfast

This morning I pottered across town to Creative Camp Belfast. An un-conference, held in the Blick Shared Studios on the Malone Road. A conference in that a load of people pile round to the one location, sit and listen to talks, ask questions, muse over tea and mini-muffins, and catch up with old and new friends. An un-conference in the sense that the speakers are the attendees, everyone has the opportunity to pitch in with what they know and volunteer a session, and the agenda isn’t finalised until everyone has arrived.

I only managed to stay for the morning sessions, but we’d a real range of thought-provoking topics.

Employing Creativity by David Braziel

David Braziel took an honest look at Employing Creativity and how to encourage creativity at work and still get stuff done. A lot of us resonated with the traits of creative people – I particularly picked up on the messy desk, the fetish for stationery and being picky about layout! I also liked the idea that

Creativity = Randomness + Editing

He analogised that evolution was a strong example of creativity, with genetics providing the randomness and natural selection the editing. In business, the editing will often come from the involvement and review by other people – whether the wider team or clients.

Getting Things Done GTD by Davy Mac

Getting Things Done had been a much requested opportunity for Davy Mac to explain the basics of David Allen’s GTD approach that reverse engineers advanced common sense into a system/methodology. Like a lot of people, I’d prefer if work was less about trying to be a world class fire-fighter, and more about having the peace of mind that the right things were being done at the right time without getting into a complete pickle.

So there was talk about projects, physical actions, contexts, treeware vs electronic tools, and the reality that falling off the wagon isn’t the end of the world! But not addressing the chaos of paper and to do lists is not an option.


We briefly drifted into the Wonderland world of plastic bottles that would disappear when empty and thrown out (designed to disintegrate and decay into something life-giving rather then toxic), water purification and dresses that dissolve in water. Check out the exhibition (Q&A and workshops) that’s passing through the Ormeau Baths Gallery between 8 October and 8 November for more details.

Pitch Visuals ... Jamie Neely from Front

In the final session of the morning, Jamie Neely from Front took a look at Pitch Visuals & Winning Work the Right Way. While intended to be a look at how the website pitching process works, it resonated with my experience of large-scale tendering (ITT/RFI) exercises in work over the last couple of years. Jamie is not alone in noticing that some firms have “a talent of making things look shiny” that helps win work but distracts a client’s attention from bids that are probably technically better less slickly presented.

“A shiny thing is a distraction to the relationship.”

Other advice that crossed over well into the less-webby side of the IT world included his thought on the danger of early visualisation:

“Don’t show them [the client] something they won’t get out of their minds for the next three months.”

After all, if it’s a third client, a third agency and a third end users, only one third was present when the unpaid-for design visuals (or prototypes/mock-ups) were created. Better to win work by explaining the process you’ll be following to the client, educating them about what you’ll be doing and what they’ll get to show them how you’ll understand their problem, rather than rushing in with ideas.

Lots of food for thought, and probably the best morning’s professional development in the last five or six years.

Asking questions

Lovely to meet Sharon and chat about life, home schooling, wooden trains and blogging. If you haven’t already, cast your eye across to The Voyage. And good to catch up with Davy Sims who may be did podcasting proceedings, Dave from Amuze/DigMo, Damien, Phil and others.

A big, big thank you to Andy, Mairin and the other un-conference un-organisers who did such a good job in rounding up a venue, sponsors, projectors, food and coffee!

My one big mistake of the day was pouring a hot cup of sustenance from the flask marked tea ... but on swallowing turned out to be coffee. I suppose the real mistake was not setting it down. But instead I drank it. First cup in about eight years. Yuchh. Sickly. Sore head. Feel ill.

Update: reflections on Creative Camp Belfast from attendees ...


Sharon said...

It was nice to meet you too Alan. It's a pity you had to leave as you missed a discussion on blogging that's have benefited from your input.

Sharon said...

See what happens when you don't preview! Should have been a "that'd" up there.

davidbraziel said...

Hi Alan,

Lovely picture of me there - they say the camera adds 150 lbs right? (Im sure its something like that).

I didnt realise that I had analogised during the talk though ... I can only apologise.


Davy McDonald said...

Quick out of the blocks with the blog post!
Good to (briefly) meet with you yesterday, hopefully meet up again sometime. I now have a few more Twitterers on board too.
Good photo of me, totally agree with that camera adding lbs, but looks like there were about three cameras on me at the time ;-)


Anonymous said...

Alan, thanks for the mention. That was dead quick !

Alan in Belfast said...

David, Davy - lets blame the camera angle and not the tummies!

Had weird dreams all night about swapping drives in and out of a Drobo as applications filled them up. That cup of coffee seriously messed with my mind! Though puts me in mind to look at Drobo or competitors to sort out storage once and for all.