Our Approach

Why Creativity?

“WE are the solutions to our problems." – Danny Hun, TIDE

In a world of strained resources, creativity is an unlimited and game-changing resource within each person, organization and community. It’s the spark that ignites innovation and collaboration, helps us imagine a new way forward and inspires us to take bold transformative action.

An Integral Approach

Lasting impact requires an integral approach. Efforts focusing solely on policy and behavior change only partially address an issue. Behaviors and systems are an externalization of interior aspects of individuals and communities - such as beliefs, motivation, values and worldview. When social change initiatives ignore these interior aspects that shape the way we think and act, the impact is usually temporary, at best.

Our courses provide the tools to address both the interior (psychological and cultural) and exterior (behavioral and systemic) aspects of individuals and collectives that influence human development. The Creative Action Institute curriculum draws upon an Integral Theory framework, as developed by Ken Wilber, to provide a comprehensive set of tool and capacity-building resources. We've adapted the Integral Theory quadrant model to spark three levels of transformation:

  • Individual Empowerment
  • Community Development
  • Systemic Change

On the Individual level, participants develop their capacity to think creatively; affirm their life journeys; reflect on key influences that shape their leadership, life purpose and core values; examine social identities and power; identify strategies to overcome fears and blocks; build their facilitation skills; and create personal development action plans. Self-care and mindfulness practices are also infused to support resilience, self-awareness and well-being.

On the Community level, participants share their stories, cultures, worldviews, dreams and struggles to build relationships, trust and a shared vision for the future. Role-plays and team-building games are used to strengthen communication, problem solving and collaboration skills. We promote diversity and explicitly aim to foster a culture of appreciation, inclusivity, connectivity and interdependence for ongoing mutual support within organizations and communities.

On the Systemic level, participants gain tools to critically analyze the structural and root causes of issues they face, engage the perspectives of multiple stakeholders, develop long-term thinking and understand the intersections of the social, economic, political and ecological systems they live in. They learn to strategically apply creative methods to galvanize social change, share knowledge, engage powerful dialogue and generate innovative solutions.

CAI uniquely bridges the gap between conventional top-down approaches and those that empower communities, groups and organizations to fully participate and discover sustainable approaches to environmental and social challenges together.

Multiple Intelligences and the Power of Art

Howard Gardner proposed that there are nine main intelligences that must be developed for an individual to discover or generate creative solutions. We design our workshops to engage and cultivate logical, emotional, visual/spatial, somatic, musical, existential, naturalist, intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligences. We believe that when people are able to express themselves along this full spectrum, they emerge more competent and motivated to serve society in constructive ways. The networks in the brain that govern perception and imagination can be intentionally developed by exposure to novel stimuli and new ways of engaging. In our courses, participants step outside of their comfort zones to activate the neural pathways that support creative thinking and innovation.

Research also shows the practice of the arts to be, in itself, a healing, transformational and therapeutic activity contributing to individual health and well-being. Art can heal by transforming a person's physiology and attitude from stress to deep relaxation, and from fear to creativity and inspiration. Engagement in artistic activities impacts the nervous system, hormonal balance and brain neurotransmitters in a way that supports the immune system and a positive perception of the world. CAI Creative Leadership courses cultivate multiple intelligences as well as new ways of thinking, relating, and healing.

What is Creative Leadership?

“You cannot solve problems with the same level of consciousness that created them.” - Albert Einstein

What does creative leadership look like? It's an ongoing process of expanding and deepening our worldview, not a static position or job title. Creative leadership is the ability to deliberately engage one’s imagination to define and guide a group toward a novel goal – towards innovation. Creativity brings forth original ideas – innovation puts them into action. Our increasingly complex world needs creative pioneers, adept at risk-taking, questioning conventional wisdom and reimagining the future. We need leaders and organizations who can foster bold people-powered solutions to both long-standing and emerging issues.

Skills We Target

• Fluency/Flexibility/Elaboration/Originality
• Generative Dialogue
• Artful Facilitation
• Team Building
• Conflict Transformation
• Divergent/Convergent Thinking
• Critical Analysis
• Problem Solving
• Systems Thinking
• Strategic Action Planning

Inherent Wisdom and Praxis

Paulo Freire’s theory of popular education also guides our work. We respect and acknowledge the inherent knowledge, wisdom and experience of our partners and the communities they work with. We provide tools and opportunities for them to discover and enact their own solutions to the challenges they face. CAI’s methodology uses generative dialogue as a central way for people to reflect critically on the conditions of their lives, to understand these conditions and to transform them.

We emphasize the importance of learning by doing through a cycle of action and reflection called “praxis." Our interactive courses guide participants through creative processes and engage in critical reflection after every activity as a way to capture the collective insights and applications for future action. We support our partners to engage in praxis in the field so that we continue to learn, refine, evolve and grow together.

Reframing the Story

The beliefs and stories we carry about our world determine the kinds of actions we take and the solutions we believe are possible. CAI works with organizations to identify and challenge the limiting beliefs and assumptions of the dominant paradigm that hold us back and develop a more empowering narrative of the future we want to create. We support groups to generate impactful messages, engage communities in a shared vision and develop creative communication strategies that reframe the story being told within and to the world at large.

How to Partner With Us