Having ideas at the IABSE Bath 2017 conference

Ben and I are just back from two great days at the IABSE 2017 conference in Bath – the theme: creativity and collaboration. We were really pleased to be invited to particiapte. This is the first year the conference has included workshops as part of their programme, and we ran a version of our day-long course ‘How to have ideas‘. The workshop was so oversubscribed that we ended up running two.

The motivation behind the workshop, and our training in general around this theme, is that creative thinking is fundamental to company competitivity and important for personal wellbeing, and yet this is an area in which engineers rarely receive any formal training. Our starting point is to observe that we are probably already successful creative thinkers to some extent, otherwise we wouldn’t have the jobs that we do, but that we don’t necessarily understand how we are creative – it is a tacit skill. Our approach is to provide a framework against which people can explore where their ideas come from and to recommend particular techniques to trigger different parts of the creative process. We don’t presecribe any one method but invite participants to identify which of the techniques used in the workshop would work best for them and get them to think about how they would apply these strategies personally and in their teams.

Participants in the workshop were the first to get a set of the latest iteration of our design thinking cards, presented in a lovely Think Up manilla brown box.

Later on the first afternoon I took part in a panel conversation on whether design codes stifle creativity. It was a great opportunity to share some of the thinking that is going into a new course that we are developing on leading design. Watch this space for more on this theme.

A big thank you to everyone on the IABSE team who made this conference such a success and who made us feel so welcome. We hope we can join you again another year.


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