[:en]All Good Things Come To An End[:]

[:en]Blog by Elke Bies

All good things come to an end. For me, it’s time to say goodbye to Novel-T and 20Creathon. From now on, Rogier Ikink is taking over as Project Manager 20Creathon and I’m going back into textiles as a designer for Rhinetex. But: not without saying goodbye.

I am happy and proud that I got the chance to set up and work out the 20Creathon program over the past two years and therefore I want to share my experiences.

Creathon = creative + marathon.

From the moment I’d started with the 20Creathon concept, I wanted to create events where extremely motivated and inspired people gathered to come up with solutions for societal challenges together: the creative marathons. Leaving the everyday routine behind and work together with people you perhaps wouldn’t meet in any other way, to develop something new in a limited amount of time.

The past two years I’ve been in charge of several events within the themes sustainability, food waste, safety, tourism, nature and smart city developments. Every event felt fresh and new, with lots of positive thoughts. Over the years we’ve been playing with the format, but the common thread will remain: A 2 or 3-day party including food, drinks, internet and anything else that might be needed to get in a good flow for as long as possible. Three intensive days of creativity that will be blown away like minutes.

The creathon pressure cooker concept is a mix of a couple of ingredients:

1. A gathering of brilliant minds

Looking back at the pictures, I see the big variety of participants: they all stepped outside of their comfort zones, invested their spare time into societal challenges and succeeded. The group of creathon participants is a mixed group of young talents, free thinkers, naïve types and also inside-the-boxers. People who know a bit about a lot of things; people who know exceptionally much within a given topic. When they mix up, it’s getting interesting, but terribly challenging in once. It’s not about rankings or titles, it’s about people who see the bigger picture and are willing to think in new ways.


2. A creathon vibe

When the events started and I stepped through the creathon doors, I experienced people sitting in groups, sketching on paper, building prototypes, busy typing on their keyboards, heavy discussions… Shouts of joy, super enthusiastic teams that can’t wait to show what they’ve been creating. It is so much more than just a party, because the teams are working on innovations for global issues, together with the municipalities, local businesses and more. Teams are sharing ideas and knowledge with others to create new products and services and perhaps to solve the major societal challenges.


3. A new way of working in a learning environment

Keeping a strong focus and generating a creative work atmosphere at the same time is where the magic will happen. Therefore we’ve made a program with workshops, coaching sessions and deliverables.

  1. The Winning Team – nobody is perfect, but a team can be. The key point of success is the cooperation within a team. Each member brings in all the capabilities he has to get the maximum team performance. Understanding each other, team roles and focus are necessary for a winning team.
  1. Do Your Research / Infographic – a picture tells more than a thousand words. A decent analysis of the challenge is needed before the team can choose where to go: aiming for what’s really important and staying close to the teams qualities. Many ideas will pop-up, we are overloaded with information: sometimes useful but most of the time useless. Instead of reading and absorbing information, we scan the headlines and build our own story around this. Making an infographic is helping the teams to send their message: picturing it in a comprehensive way.
  1. Magic Solution Storytelling The problem is clear, the idea is perfectly defined and the conclusions are illustrated. Good to Go and time to sell the idea. Teams are challenged to think about selling it to stakeholders: connect emotionally, aesthetically, intellectually and whatever might be triggering to get their message across.
  1. Finals. What is a marathon without a winner. The finals are all about pitching the solutions to a professional jury and afterwards a celebration ceremony.


4. A short time to achieve an enormous amount

It sounds stressful, but it is an adrenaline rush. The limited time is a success factor, it increases the need of making quick decisions and testing simple solutions. Special things happen under time pressure. Why don’t we work in a creathon setting all the time? Well, it would be a catastrophe: it takes time to recover and work at a normal level.


5. Access to information: (open) data

Open data is information that is available without limitation. It is accessible via the internet and free to use by anyone, for any purpose. It means opening up the innovation process in making extreme solutions possible. But far from everyone can read or understand these data sets. With the right knowledge and help teams were able to make great innovations, for example they’ve been using weather data in order to make a valve system for water barrels (the Ensketon). Smart cities are becoming reality: cities that communicate digitally and where all the inhabitants contribute information.


I had two fantastic years in the 20Creathon project. I have evaluated to working procedure, dared to let go of control, tested new things, made mistakes and learned to think in new ways. I have seen what worked and what didn’t work. I had a maximum of fun while changing the world, together with you.

This job was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it could never have been undertaken by one single company or person. It’s not possible to highlight and take one person more than another. The vibrating energy was created by the whole creathon community, many people with a broad view and diverse backgrounds, from all parts of the world came together. We together, created the fun. Enthusiasm will always be what determines our success.

Thanks to all the participants, partners, colleagues and people who have contributed to carrying out 20Creathon during the first two years. Nobody mentioned, nobody forgotten. You’re awesome.


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