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How to channel digital creativity: do it in person, keep it intuitive and listen to the older generation

Habib Lesevic, left and Professor Clive Holtham. Pic: Sophie Gost

Channeling creativity in the digital world was the theme of the keynote presentation by two leading City University academics at the Digital Shoreditch Creative Tech Day at Hackney House.

Professor Clive Holtham and Habib Lesevic, both from Cass Business School, staged an entertaining joint discussion covering such areas as whether creativity can be collective or individual, the need for physical connections and the introduction of intuitive arts teaching into the business world.

The Creative Tech Day, an exhibition and series of talks, was the first full day of the two week Hackney House event designed to showcase the borough’s creative industries during the Olympics period. City is an educational partner of both Hackney House and a sponsor of Digital Shoreditch, an umbrella body f0r the local digital sect0r.

According to Professor Holtham, while historically, there has been a huge emphasis on the creativity of individuals, whether in the arts or in business and individual creativity will always remain important, today there a strong emphasis on how to harness the outcomes of individual creativity.

This harnessing is reflected through products and processes that will enable organisations and even districts, cities and nations to become collectively more innovative, he believes. Lesevic agreed that creativity was down to a combination of both individual and collective enterprise.

Hackney is seen as cross over in creativity, between the artistic and technological worlds and Professor Holtham spoke about the fact that employers said they needed people not just with business abilities, but also intuitive skills, more often taught in humanities courses. This had led Cass to develop its successful ‘Art of Management’ module, in which both aspects were taught to students at undergraduate and post-graduate level.

The two academics disagreed on whether there was now a need for physical communities, in a world where so much business was conducted virtually. Lesevic, a supporter of face to face communication, said: ‘’Much of the non-verbal, non-measurable elements of successful communication and co-creation are only poorly captured by existing technologies. That’s not to say that successful virtual innovation not possible, only that face to face has its merits over virtual,still. I still get much more done in a face to face meeting, unfortunately.’’

However Professor Holtham said he had seen the bad side of face to face. ‘’ I have wasted much of my life in inefficient and ineffective face to face meetings. The issue with virtual meetings is that not only is the technology still in its infancy, we have not really developed the protocols and skills to use it remotely as well as face to face.’’ Electronic meetings, he said, allowed anonymity, rapid evaluation and recordability.’’

Asked by Professor Holtham whether it was time for the older generation to step aside since they had nothing to contribute to the digital economy, Lesevic said it was necessary for them to remain involved: ‘’ Share your experiences with us, Be honest about your failures, as individuals and a generation. Help us learn from our collective past mistakes by promoting the lessons of our past collective mistakes.’’

And he added: ‘’And then  finance our looney, out there to change the world projects!’’

The Creative Tech day ended with an evening reception hosted by City University, hosted by Dr Sue O’Hare, head of the Enterprise Department at City University, who stressed that the university was ideally situated on the doorstep of Tech City, the world’s fastest-growing technology cluster and was a natural partner, with  academic strengths in the digital arena, digital media, business and management, law and journalism.

It was also a partner in Digital Shoreditch and Hackney House. She said that City was able to offer the Tech City area student placements and graduate recruits, specialist technical facilities, expert advice and consultancy, leading-edge collaborative research, business incubation and support for start-up businesses, executive and enterprise education, and continuing professional development.

Professor Steve Haberman, head of Cass Business School at City urged the creative community to look upon the school as ‘y0ur’ business school with its commitment to entrepreneurship and the building of a digital research team:”We are at the heart of City university’s unique Centre for Creativity and are proud to have been the only business school invited into the successful CreativeWorks London consortium. Cass brings to the table expertise in the management of creativity and innovation, coupled with an equally long understanding of the risk and funding challenges through our three faculties.”

”We are committed to innovation and excellence across our educational programmes, research and business services. We are committed to academic excellence and we deliver innovative, relevant and forward-looking education, consultancy and research.”

Check out our gallery of images from the reception here or our video montage of the day right here:


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