Problem solver to give pointers at summit

Dr. Roger Firestien

People are bombarded with continuous change whether they like it or not, so what tools are needed to navigate your way through changing landscapes?

The answer: Creativity and collaboration.

The Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation’s Local Economic Development Committee will host a free summit on May 17 at the State University of New York at Fredonia Science Center. The topic of the event is “Forward Thinking, Forward Movement: Applying Creativity and Innovation to Community and Economic Development,” and anyone looking to improve their community — whether in business, government, nonprofits, educational institutions or simply a household — is welcome to attend.

“This year, we thought we would look at creativity as our theme,” LED Committee Vice Chair Jane Fischer stated. “What we’ve done in (past summits) is we’ve been highlighting successes and things that have been done or are being done, and that’s fantastic and that has a place, so we thought this time, let’s go to the start and let’s create a community conversation about what we might do and what we could do and what we need to do. So, we thought, instead of have a summit that focuses on an end product, let’s go to the beginning and talk about how thinking and acting creatively and collaboratively can lead to increased and improved community and economic development, which is what we’re all looking for anyway.”

Creative thinking or creative problem solving is a process similar to following a scientific method that helps develop fledgling ideas, Fischer noted. The steps include exploring the challenge, generating ideas and preparing for action.

The day will begin with registration at 8 a.m. At 8:30, Dr. Roger Firestien will give a presentation.

Firestien is world-renowned as one of the most experienced and skilled facilitators of the creative problem solving process, with 38 years of experience. He is a senior faculty member at the International Center for Studies in Creativity at SUNY Buffalo State. He is also the co-director of the i4 Studio — an “idea lab” at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

Firestien has been called “the gold standard” of creativity training by his clients, some of which include Disney, AT&T, Clorox, Los Angeles Times, Farmers Insurance, General Electric, General Mills, Merck, American Hospital Association, Young Presidents Organization, University of California Medical Center, U.S. Air Force, Department of the Treasury and NASA.

In addition, Firestien developed the facilitation design for all meetings of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council in 2010. The output of those meetings resulted in Gov. Andrew Cuomo awarding the Buffalo Billion project.

“This session (in Fredonia) is going to teach you how to become deliberately creative so that you can turn on your ideas at will instead of waiting for ideas to happen,” Firestien said in a phone interview with the OBSERVER. “We’re going to focus your ability to be creative on economic issues.”

At 10:30 a.m., attendees will have the option to participate in breakout sessions to start using principles discussed by Firestien. These breakout sessions are new to the LED Committee’s annual summit, according to Fischer.

“We wanted to create an opportunity for something hands-on, so it wasn’t just people in a room listening to somebody,” Fischer pointed out, adding the sessions will help people familiarize themselves with the creative problem solving skills they just learned about. “This is an opportunity to really get to the root of what we need to do or could do in a new way, (with) fresh thinking. I was a student of Dr. Firestien and I … can attest to the fact that it matters and it works. I’ve seen this make a difference … and I’m thrilled that we have an opportunity to have this conversation here.”

Anyone interested in attending the summit should RSVP at www.nccf-led.org by Wednesday. Light refreshments will be provided.

The LED Committee’s partners in this summit include Chautauqua County, SUNY Fredonia, the OBSERVER and Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES.

To learn more about the NCCF LED Initiative, go to www.nccf-led.org. For more on Firestien, visit www.rogerfirestien.com.

Email: gfox@observertoday.com. Twitter: @gfoxnews