Open any issue Inc. Magazine and you’ll see examples. Intellectuals such as Thomas Friedman have just advocated that NFTE – a non-profit devoted to creating community based entrepreneurship programs for teens – be given government funding to set up in cities throughout American. In short, innovation and technology are the new railway, highway system, and Model T of America 2.0. All have one thing in common, “Big Ideas, Big Action,” which coincidentally was the name of a conference organized in early February by Peter Corbett, CEO iStrategy Labs, a digital word of mouth agency focused on providing clients with interactive strategy, experiential marketing and content creation services.
On a local level there are a number of talented individuals with bright minds that understand the need for innovation, sharing, convergence and the use of new technologies. They evangelize it as much as anyone, anywhere. They might be involved in the government IT sector, they might be an artificial intelligence consultant, they might be a social media or brand marketing guru, a graphic designer, an artist, a creative connector or community manager, or all of the above.
Unfortunately, much like the challenge Homeland Security has sharing and understanding data, D.C.’s big thinking creative minds have a wealth of big ideas but find it hard to cross-fertilize and connect with others to help put the pieces together in order to craft big action. Enter Corbett.
Besides crafting innovative integrated campaign for clients as diverse as the District of Columbia to Microsoft, Corbett has a vision to bridge the area’s creative communities – but not in a “schmooze-fest” way filled with cheap drinks and speed-date-like card exchanges.
The first annual BIBA (Big Ideas, Big Action) conference co-hosted by FedScoop and held at, appropriately enough, the Woolly Mammoth Theatre, started with engaging 20min morning-session presentations by thought leaders. It was proceeded by small break-out “ideation” groups in the afternoon where presenters and attendees got their hands dirty hashing out ideas and hatching action plans.
Speaking of getting your hands dirty, plenty of Play Doh, Etch A Sketches, Legos, and sketchpads with markers were within arms length of participants at any given time during the day. And did I mention the lots of cute inflatable animals? It’s not for show. “The act of fiddling with a toy or playing with playdo brings us closer to our childlike instincts,” said Corbett during his presentation, entitled “Ideation and Concepting Techniques to Help You Conquer the World.” “It allows us think more creativity, or, to borrow an over-used phrase, out of the box.” And speaking of boxes, the stage at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre was decorated with a large arch crafted by… yes, boxes. That’s creative!
Speakers at the first annual BIBA (Big Ideas, Big Action) conference, co-hosted by FedScoop, included:
• Andy Carvin, Sr. Social Media Strategist, NPR
• Philippa Hughes, Chief Creative Contrarian, The Pink Line Project
• Peter Corbett, CEO and co-founder of iStrategyLabs
• Nigel Ballard from Intel
• Mark Drapeau, Director of Innovative Social Engagement, Microsoft
• Tim O’Shaughnessy, CEO of LivingSocial
• Steve Moore, CEO, Washington DC Economic Partnership (WDCEP)
All of the presentations are available to review here.
Big Action came in the afternoon with the “Ideation” breakout sessions. I followed WDCEP’s Steven Moore to a break out in room in order to help strategize ways to continue to develop H Street NE into a buzzing commercial and residential. About 20 people help formulate idea. Other groups helped tackle projects as broad as: ideas for developing a more interactive government website, marketing for a food distribution start-up, and finding ways to program an empty warehouse space on New York avenue with art-related events.
As the importance of creative industries continue to increase in the DC Metro Area, so will gatherings such as BIBA. I’ll be working on group creative projects as well as my Play Doh techniques in anticipation for the gathering.
Sponsors included FedScoop, Intel, HP, Citrix, WindowMagic Data Security, and Washington Life Magazine.
You can view all of Jen Consalvo’s photos of the event here.