McCalmont: Oklahoma's Future Depends on Creativity

Article excerpt

Oklahoma's journey to infuse more creativity into its education, commerce and culture continues this year with a local version of last year's Creativity World Forum.

The Oklahoma Creativity Forum scheduled for Tuesday in Norman is an outgrowth of last year's hosting of the international event, said Susan McCalmont, president of the organization Creative Oklahoma. In fact, feedback from last year's forum was something that couldn't be ignored, she said.

"We had such a resounding response from university students and young entrepreneurs who provided comments like, 'We now have hope for Oklahoma,' 'We were getting ready to leave the state,' 'We had no idea this movement was occurring in Oklahoma,' 'We had no idea there were such exciting business opportunities in Oklahoma.' We could not ignore those," she said.

The Oklahoma Creativity Forum blends local leaders with national speakers on creativity. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey will speak along with Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon on creativity in corporate culture. Local entertainment attorney Jay Shanker will facilitate a discussion on creativity in Oklahoma's music industry; and Robert Sternberg, the provost of Oklahoma State University, will speak about teaching creativity. Many others will address ways to use creativity.

McCalmont said learning how to think creatively isn't simply a luxury; Oklahoma's future depends upon it.

"What we're hearing from CEOs in Oklahoma is that they're getting very bright kids graduating from college and coming into the workplace, but they don't know how to think," she said. "They're so accustomed to being told what to do and to only get the right answer. I think we have lessened our tolerance for risk and failure. That's a very important ingredient if you're going to have people who are thinking about the next invention or coming up with the next great musical composition or the next startup business. You have to celebrate risk and failure."

In the five years that Oklahoma has been talking about creativity, significant things have already happened, McCalmont said. Oklahoma's A+ Schools is a reality, OSU has started an Institute for Creativity and Innovation, the Academy of Contemporary Music is going strong, and more. …