Summit to explore the creative process

As president and executive director of Creative Alliance Milwaukee, Maggie Jacobus has a strong conviction that creativity is everybody’s business.

On Friday, Nov. 8, Jacobus will unleash that creativity with 300 others at the Alliance’s second annual CreativeMilwaukee@Work Summit, which will immerse attendees in the creative process of Experience Design as it teaches them about many elements of that creative process.

“The Summit is being crafted using the creative process of Experience Design,” Jacobus said. “That means every aspect of the day has been taken into consideration and designed for a particular experience, with each experience building on the one before. The goal is for attendees to experience an optimized community that applies creativity, creative processes and creative problem solving across disciplines, professions and issues.”

The summit aims to expose the creative process in all of its iterations and messiness.

“One of the things we want to convey to the community, even to fellow creatives, but to the community at large is creativity is a process, and we say that and we all know that, but we as creatives have sort of been trained to not show the process,” Jacobus said. “We believe that actually does creativity a disservice.”

When end users are shielded from the creative process, they are left uninformed without any insight into – or appreciation of – the iterations, redesigns, fails and overall efforts that have gone into a specific product or project.

At the summit, which will be held at Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin, attendees will have full access to creative thought leaders’ step-by-step processes – no matter how messy or chaotic those processes are.

Presenting creatives will represent sectors across the spectrum – from Lincoln Fowler, co-owner of Milwaukee-based Colectivo Coffee Roasters, to Ken Leinbach, executive director of Milwaukee’s Urban Ecology Center.

Additional presenters will include Mike Rohde, local designer and creator of the note taking tool known as “sketchnoting,” and Mark Clements, artistic director of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.

Each presenting thought leader will give attendees “a peak behind the curtain of their creative process,” Jacobus said.

The summit will culminate in a final presentation by Bob Schwartz, general manager of global design and user experience at Waukesha-based GE Healthcare, along with principals, faculty and former students of the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD). The group will discuss GE Healthcare and MIAD’s year-long collaboration on the Compassion Project, which pushed MIAD students to explore the “end-to-end journey of breast cancer” and seek ways to improve the patient experience of this journey.

As presenters throughout the day share elements of their creative processes and strategies, Schwartz and MIAD representatives will build on those elements with a clear illustration of experience design as a gateway to innovation.

Each detail of the summit, from its speakers to its venue, has been designed specifically with attendees in mind, Jacobus said.

For example, by holding the event at Discovery World, attendees will spend their day in a very “experiential” setting.

“It lends itself very exactly to a conference on creativity,” Jacobus said.

As registration spots begin to be reserved, Creative Alliance Milwaukee hopes the pool of event attendees is just as diversified as its roundup of speakers.

“Our goal is to have really a mix of the ecosystem in attendance,” Jacobus said.

Creativity, after all, is everybody’s business, particularly here in Milwaukee, a city in which creativity is “so inherent in who are as a community,” Jacobus said.

“Milwaukeeans are creators,” Jacobus said. “We are people who create. It’s…in our DNA from our manufacturing, beer brewing, cheese making, Old World craftsmanship heritage. That’s creativity. That was creativity and innovation 150 years ago, and we’ve brought some of that forward.”

The 2013 CreativeMilwaukee@Work Summit will run from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 8 at Discovery World, 500 N. Harbor Drive, in Milwaukee. The cost to attend is $125, and scholarships are available through an application process.

For more information or to register, visit

BizTimes Media is serving as a media sponsor of the Summit.

Erica Breunlin is a BizTimes reporter.

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