Innovating Through Artistry

Posts Tagged ‘Author: Cyriel Kortleven’

Entrepreneurs change the world

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on September 7, 2009 at 12:55 am

I came across this movie about entrepreneurs and I liked it …

Art of Hosting Berlin – the chaordic field

In Uncategorized on August 13, 2009 at 12:11 pm

I am just back from a four-day training – the Art of Hosting – in Berlin. It was absolutely a great experience to work together with more than 45 people around meaningful conversations. We experienced methods like WorldCafe, Open Space, Appreciative Inquiry, circle work, … and applied them on very powerful questions.

I’m starting to call myself an experienced facilitator but being an host of such an ‘event’ goes a step further. Because we were in Berlin and it’s 20 years after the ‘Berlin wall’ came down, we worked around the topic to bring our inner walls down that keep us seperated. I liked the part about the chaordic field because it relates a lot to the creation and innovation work that I do. The chaordic field is the area that emerges from being between chaos and order. That’s where the deep learning happens. It’s also the field of not knowing (U-theory). When a system/society puts too much attention on order, you get a system of control. And that’s a very rigid system but a big part of our current society is build on control. The other side is too much chaos and then you get into the destructive chaos. New awareness and solutions emerge from the chaordic field. This field is also sometimes related to the groan zone – you feel resistance, you don’t know what you’re doing, you want to step out of the process but this is the moment where you need to be self-confident and have trust in the process.

I recognize this zone a lot in creative sessions. This is the moment where the ‘logical’ ideas have been harvested and people get stuck in the ideakillers (yes, but; too crazy; not fo our clients; …). The best ideas are found if you can ‘survive’ this groan zone. I have been in the groan zone a few times during the intense training – struggling with my mind and emotions; not knowing what I should do but every time I got through it and discovered a very nice insight. The next picture (the result of an open space session outside) is maybe the answer on the question – what will you discover if you bring your inner walls down?

(quite funny to become conscious -just now- that this graffiti image was made on a wall -the Berlin wall??? behind a fence)

I can absolutely recommend this experience to other people who are interested in exploring really deep conversations and want to learn all kind of methods and a philosophy to host big groups with powerful questions. Thanks to all the great participants and the art of hosting team who helped me to break down some of my inner walls and discover the beauty of some other walls that represent my values and strengths. And thanks to the Hub Berlin for being such a nice host for this event. Very interesting concept for all self-employed people out there who want to become part of a bigger community.


How naked are you prepared to be?

In The Entrepreneurial Artist Competition on July 25, 2009 at 11:19 pm

Nic Askew is many things. Film-maker, storyteller, musician, composer. I discovered his work through a friend who said that I would like his stuff. And yes, … it is absolutely very powerful and touching.

For me, Nic is a great artist and every movie has a specific message. Not a moral message but a message that makes you wonder, reflect, think, feel, … You can find his stuff on Soul Biographies where he captures the experience of being human. He make you laugh and he makes you cry. I have just watched a movie where he interviewed Dominic Miller – guitarist of Sting (a more famous person or is he also just a normal guy) about the story that’s out there waiting to be told by you.

How naked are you prepared to be?

The ages of female energy

In Uncategorized on July 11, 2009 at 12:08 pm


They have asked me to ‘facilitate’ a track on a creativity conference in Greenwich next week. The purpose of the track is to give a short introduction on the topic, work 2 hours with a 1/3 of the participants and have a creative presentation at the final day to ‘summarize’ our insights. The track that they asked me to facilitate is ‘power and influence’. My first thoughts were ‘Mmmm, is this really my thing because ‘power and influence’ don’t look to fit in my portfolio where I focus on creative skills, experience time and interaction with bigger groups. But my creative attitude ‘stimulated’ me to postpone judgement and let the topic rest for a while. My first associations with power and influence were linked with hierarchy, authority, dominion, strenght, reaching goals, superiority, leadership, a person showing muscles, … all more masculin associations. But then (after a while) other associations became present … networking, connecting, guidance, impact, effective, standing straight, openess, listening, … a bit more feminin words. By the way masculinity and femininity have nothing to do with the difference between men and women. Everybody has the potential to develop both kind of skills. And we absolutely need both sides of the paradox.

In the last decades, we have developed a society with male energy where things like efficiency, a high status, planning and goals, logical thinking are appreciated. And a lot of these things have helped us to get prosperity and a wealthy economy but at this moment, it looks like the balance is gone. Too much male energy leads to a society that is rigid, political and hierarchy battles, loss of the humaninity in a lot of processes. And if you look at the world at this moment, the economic system is in a crisis; people who still think that they can go on with only masculin skills are struggling to survive; organizations.

And apparently, more people think that we need more female energy into our system. Two weeks ago, I was on the future summit where 4 futurists gave their vision on the next decades and in all of their stories, the importance of a better balance between femininity and masculinity was mentioned. So I’m quite sure that the whole system needs more female energy (caring, loving, listening, waiting, developing, connecting, …). Keeping those things in mind, the track ‘power and influence’ becomes more appealing to me and I would like to explore – together with the other participants – the topic power and influence from different perspectives. I will keep you updated.

No time to be a pessimist

In Uncategorized on June 27, 2009 at 2:41 am

I hope that this is already old news for most of you but I just saw this video about the biggest artwork ever – the movie ‘Home’ from Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Absolutely fabulous so I’m not going to spend more words and discover it for yourself (movie lasts 1,5 hours but it’s the best time investment that you can do).

the planet in our hands

The art of doing nothing (and everything)

In Uncategorized on June 20, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Yesterday, I went to an IAF-conference (International association of Facilitators) in the Netherlands and the main theme was ‘3 times nothing’. The purpose was to explore the value of doing nothing at certain moments in a training or workshop. And the consequences that would have on your group. Some facilitators are convinced that you as a facilitator are responsible for the outcomes of a group. I don’t think that’s true, you are responsible for the process and setting the right atmosphere where a team or group of participants can discover new content or work towards a common goal. So it is not necessary as a facilitator to be responsible for the content and keep a discussion or flow going. Some facilitators start to work very hard if the participants are a bit more passive. But of course, they love it if the facilitator is going to do the work that they should do. So at the conference, all the workshops had something to do with ‘nothing’. In the first workshop, I was in a group were we explored two different paths – one content part – what is nothing, why does it have an added value, … and a very nice dialogue started about this topic. But a second path was more reflective and personal. They challenged us to not do something at certain moments. Eg if you wanted to add an example to a discussion, don’t do it and see what it does with yourself. You could write down the thing that you hadn’t said or done on a paper and decide if you would share this paper or not. So what was very interesting to notice a different track of discussion on the papers.


It became a bit chaotic because some people could only concentrate themselves on one track. So there was getting some tension in the room and some people were almost at the point of leaving the workshop. For me it was very interesting to notice the balance between calmness and tension and it became clear that nothing was exactly in between. If I would react to the tension to relieve it, then the ‘nothingness’ was gone and if I would do anything, probably some people would have left the workshop. So how far can you go? That’s probably different for everybody but I think it’s also an art – the art of doing nothing (and everything). In a lot of cases, when you do nothing, you are probably doing a lot somewhere else. So the topic is still going on and we didn’t come to one conclusion and I guess that’s very good. Leave the open space so nothing can happen 😉

An idea for every new contact

In Creativity and Innovation on June 6, 2009 at 11:23 am

Through a colleague, I found a very interesting and creative businessmodel. Christine Santora and Justin Gignac are a couple from New York City who started with quite a special project: they have defined some wants for example – an Iphone, chicken wings, some sleep, … and they create a painting about that need (so they paint an IPhone or some chicken wings). The price for the painting is exactly the price for the item that they want. So if you buy ‘a slice of peperoni’, then you have to pay 3 dollars and they buy it and enjoy it.

They have a list of things that they want and also a list of things that they already have. It’s quite funny that they already went to Vegas and people have paid for their hotel, some gambling money, an all-you-can-eat-buffet, … and people have paid for each item and got a painting about the item instead. More info about their project here.

This is real entrepreneurship for me and let me take you a step further. If they can do it (and even find some customers), why don’t we expand their model and use it for your own profession. Eg, if you are into music, maybe you can make a song about your wants? I am a creative facilitator so I will come up with ideas about a topic that I want and sell my ideas for the ‘real’ stuff. So I want to have an old pocket watch, I can do a brainstorm about this topic and ‘sell 100 ideas’ to get an old pocket watch – worth 100 dollars?

And going even further, you don’t have to want physical things. I want to have contacts in the communication and event business in cities like New York and London so for every contact that I’ll get, I’ll send you an idea to broaden your own network. Mmm, very interesting concept, I let it grow a bit further and maybe I start my own ‘idea-shop’.


Request for ideas may start now … 😉

a spoonful of sparkles

In BOOKS: Learn and Grow on May 17, 2009 at 10:07 pm

Together with a colleague, we’re developping a new concept ‘a Spoonful of Sparkles’. It’s a process to make your messages contagious. What kind of message should you spread to make sure that people will hear the message and that they will remember it. A lot of our inspiration comes from the book Made to Stick from Dan and Chip Heath (two brothers). They have done some research why some urban legends stick in your mind and other, very important messages don’t survive longer then a day. They found 6 principles that help to make your message sticky:

  • Simple
  • Unexpected
  • Concrete
  • Credible
  • Emotional
  • Storystick

The principles are very clear and they don’t look very special but the combination of the principles makes an idea special so people will remember it. Sometimes it isn’t necessary that an idea complies to all the principles but the more principles are covered, the bigger the chance that the idea will stick.

Now the interesting part (the principles are already interesting by itself ;-)) is that we have done several brainstorm sessions to explore different kind of methods to answer the HOW question. It’s very good to say that something has to be unexpected or have a story but how do you do that? We have come up with hundreds of ideas and worked out 3 or 4 methods in detail. So far so good and we thought that we were ready for our first real client (last Friday). What happened that there was still a bigger gap between ‘our theory’ and ‘the real stuff’. It went well but we had to improvise quite a lot and noticed that the audience reacted quite different on some techniques then our expectations. We are both experienced facilitators and I had some presuppositions that it would be an easy job. But we had to work quite hard to get a good process and a happy client at the end.

For me the biggest lesson is that entrepreneurship is something you have to do in the ‘real world’. You can make the most beautiful business plans and foresee all kind of reactions of the market (audience) but the only proof of the pudding is doing it in the outside world.

The art of questioning???

In Creativity and Innovation on April 12, 2009 at 6:28 pm

Today I was wondering what the definition of an artist is? I did check Wikipedia and I get all kind of definitions going from person who creates art as an occupation to a person who’s skilled at some activity. Of course we are all artists but a lot of times, in everyday speech (and certainly in a business environment), an artist is associated with the entertainment business. It’s at the opposite side of the ‘seriousness level’ in the business world. At one side you have the accountants, strategic thinking, … and at the other side you will find more ‘soft’ skills like creativity, innovation, artistic expression. And I have a feeling that these kind of skills are moving on the ‘level of seriousness’ towards the middle.

I believe that skills in the more artistic domain can make a difference today. Everybody is talking about the ‘crisis’ and that we can’t solve it in the logical way. Most people know the quote of  Einstein ‘No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it’ so maybe now is the moment to listen/talk/experience/learn in a more artistic way. The artist has no answer but (s)he has a lot of questions. And we need those questions to break the fixed thinking patterns. Questions help us to look from another perspective to a situation. I would like to share one powerful exercise that I use in my workshops about creative skills. Try to ask at least 20 questions about the next picture:


Most people will notice that -in the beginning- your questions will be questions about facts. Who are those people? where is that place? What word can you read on the blocks? … but after a while (that’s the reason why I ask to find at least 20 questions) the perspective of your questions will shift and you’ll get questions like: What’s behind the mountain? Are there more seats like that? What’s the relationship between those people? Why am I doing this exercise in a blog? These kind of questions generate a different way of thinking and maybe also new solutions or ideas. So let’s ask ourselves 20 questions about the ‘crisis’ and maybe can shift the rather negative perspective of a ‘crisis’ to a broad range of opportunities.

Did you like this blog? Are you happy now? Am I happy? How many minutes does it take to fly from Belgium to the US? Will we meet each other? Do I want another Belgian chocolate? 😉

And … Action!

In Creativity and Innovation, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on April 3, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Hello everybody, I am Cyriel – the Belgian guy 😉 And I am delighted that I can be part of this ETA-blog-community. I am living in Brussels and work most of the time in Belgium or the Netherlands. I am a speaker and  facilitator of creativity and innovation; busy with exploring the topic experience time and use a lot of improvisation theatre skills in my work. I would love to write about the ways how we use the arts in a business-context in Europe and maybe we can have some nice comparisons. In the next days I will tell a bit more about the network new shoes today I am in because I think it might be a nice example of how a group can work in a more artistic way of network instead of a business network. But for today, I want to share one of my favorite movies about entrepreneurship. Maybe you don’t see the link immediately but for me one of the essential aspects of an entrepreneur is taking risks. So you gotta have guts. And this movie reflects this perfectly. Enjoy it.

Creative Belgian wishes, Cyriel