Insights of the 7th edition of the Summer school on management of creativity in an innovation society

Summer School detailed Program



VENUE: Design and Innovation Centre of BRP, Valcourt & St. Benedict’s Abbey, St. Benoit-du-Lac

Speaker of the day
Denys LAPOINTE (Executive Vice-President, BRP)

3Rs: Review – Reflect – Recreate by Laurent Simon (Professor, HEC Montréal)

Ideas are the raw material of innovation. But what are ideas? Ideas are complex cognitive spaces, progressively built with multiple knowledge sources:

  • Identification of specific needs or desires
  • Technical expertise and technological potential
  • Economic constrains
  • People’s talents and personalities
  • Traditions and history
  • Aesthetics and experiences
  • Hopes and sometimes crazy dreams

The role of the innovation manager is essentially to channel these various sources of knowledge and to orchestrate their encounters and conversations in order to generate new ideas. It requires openness, curiosity, connections, reflexivity and humility.

At the early stages, when reinventing the motorbike with three wheels, the most difficult part is to put in tension the weight of reality and the lightness of imagination. The innovation team must at the same time acknowledge the formal given, constraints (physical, technical, economic, organizational…) and also decide on the constraints it wishes to impose on itself (Which impossible or unknown are we aiming for?), in order to free itself from gravity, conventions and tradition. The background dynamics are the same when Denys Lapointe’s team designed BRP Spyder Canam, when the architect Dan Hanganu envisioned the Church of St-Benoît-du-Lac Abbey, or when Father Minier re-interpreted goat cheese as Gruyere for the first time. It is about establishing a collective cognitive playground by designing the boundaries first, and specifying a challenging orientation and intent. It is about fostering a higher order type of freedom, that uses the constraints of reality as a stepping-stone into creativity.


VENUE: HEC Montréal

Speakers of the day
Jaume VALLS (Professor, University of Barcelona)
Madanmohan RAO (Research Director, Your Story Media – Founder, Jazzuality)
Olivier IRRMANN (Professor, Research Director, ADICODE ISEN Lille)
Valérie CHANAL (Professor, Université Pierre-Mendes France (UPMF), Grenoble)
Christian DEFELIX (Director I.A.E., UPMF, Grenoble)
Marine AGOGUÉ (Professor, HEC Montréal)

International Jury of the creative workshop (omelette competition)
Mélanie BOUDREAU (Marketing and Partnership, Uber Québec)
Julien REIGNIER (Chef-owner, Point G)
Sébastien ZANELLA-ARGANT (General manager, Le Glacier Bilboquet Inc.)

3Rs: Review – Reflect – Recreate by Olivier IRRMANN (Professor, Research Director, ADICODE ISEN Lille)

To go from cognition to action, we often need mediating tools and artefacts. These tools can be protocols, such as the C-K methodology or co-design and user-centered design that provide us with guidelines and methods so we can shift away from our psychological fixation effects. Psychological fixation will make us think and reflect with the same old models and representations. In order to get free from our fossilized ideas, we will use tools and methods that forces us into action.

On the other side we need to be careful about the tools and the metaphors we use for thinking about innovation. PowerPoints are essentially a simplified broadcast system, top-down pre-chewed information. Are they the only tool we should use?

DAY 3 – Sunday, June 28 : CREATIVITY, MUSIC & JAZZ

VENUE: Société des arts technologiques (SAT)

Speakers of the day
Arthur SHELLEY (Author of the Organizational Zoo & Being a Successful Knowledge Leader)
Monique SAVOIE (President, Founder & Artistic Director, SAT)
Madanmohan RAO (Jazz International Consulatant, Jazzuality)
Mantautas KRUKAUSKAS (Lecturer, Lithuanian Academy of Music & Theater)

The art of improvisation: A master class with the Kevin Dean Quintet
Kevin DEAN (Trumpeter / Professor, McGill University)
Janis STEPRANS (Saxophone / Professor, Université Laval)
André WHITE (Piano / Professor, McGill University)
Alec WALKINGTON (Bass / Professor, McGill University)
Dave LAING (Drums / Professor, McGill University)


3Rs: Review – Reflect – Recreate by Marine AGOGUÉ (Professor, HEC Montréal)

When talking about creative processes, we talk a lot about collective action, group work, social interactions. But let’s go back to basics: the individual level.

The internal talks we have in our head have a deep influence on how and why we create. In that context, reflexivity is the type of thoughts that focus actually on the thoughts them-selves (“une réflexion se prenant elle-même pour objet”). We ought to build with ourselves reflexive conversations that matter to slow down the creative process to raise questions, overcome fixation effect, forget about the “should” and watch ourselves (re)create. Reflevixity then becomes an ethics of the self.

Beyond the philosophical concept, how can we be reflexive? First, creative metaphors can have a provocative impact, and act as far-fetched concepts to trigger a dive in the unknown. Metaphors can induce a twist in creative reasoning, especially when working with antagonisms and help deconstructs given meanings. Second, improvisation requires practice and practice again to learn a new language, create generative routines and foster the intention to break existing routines to create surprises. Improvising indeed requires “hearing into the future” to create in very slow motion. Slowing down is necessary to allow breaking with automatic thinking and avoid the risk of re-creating an existing object. Last, space and media have the materiality to embed reflexivity. Medias and spaces can help not only to interact with others but also to disconnect and take the time to think on all the possible paths, the potential alternatives before engaging on one specific idea. Taking 10 minutes each day to reflect in a “journal de bord” can support this step back we (sometimes) need to breath and reconsider our own creative process.

A few (academic) references to dive deeper :
1. Going back to expansive mechanisms in C-K (Hatchuel & Weil, 2009)
2. Organizing dynamic capabilities for creativity: creative slack (Cohendet & Simon, 2006)
3. Understanding creativity aversion (Mueller, Melwani, & Goncalo, 2011)
4. Learn from your mistakes through the jazz metaphor (Barrett,1998)
5. Intentional action and evolutionary processes that legitimize action to facilitate creativity and innovation (Ford, 1996)


Venue: Bell Campus

Speakers of the day 
Elaine BISSONNETTE (Director, Brand Strategy, Bell)
Richard SPEER (President & Founder, Attraction)
Rick SEIFEDDINE (Senior Vice-President, Brand Strategy, Bell)
Pierre BALLOFFET (Professor, HEC Montréal)
Yves PIGNEUR (Professor, HEC Lausanne, best-selling author of Business Model Generation)

3Rs: Review – Reflect – Recreate by Pierre Balloffet (Professor, HEC Montréal)

The brand was born, long ago. Then marketing, little by little, seized it. In time, it became an instrument and such a powerful marketing tool that we persuaded ourselves that, the brand belongs to marketing. It is not the case. Today, we can no longer consider that the brand is the business of marketers only

For 25 years, since the great digital shift, the nature of our marketing models changed. There was a time when we built models as instruments. And these, indeed, allowed us to act. To act, at the time, essentially meant  » producing a market « ,  » to make a consumer « . And, at that, we were very effective. Today, we do not build models « to produce » the reality but to try « to seize » a reality that escapes us, imposes itself upon us.

Why do we brand? In order to answer this question, it is necessary to go back to the origins of the brand. To brand something is to identify as to distinguish it from the uniform, the identical. If I am forced to brand my cattle, it is because it is in every aspect identical to the nearby breeder’s cattle! To identify something also has another function. By branding, I assert my ownership. Branding, naming something, it is giving yourself the right to exercise control. Of this stranger who just punched me in the face, I at least want to know the name!

In time, we attached to this first brand another layer of meaning, a meaning that goes beyond identification: reputation. It was such for a very long time until marketing seized, little by little. Marketers did so, at first, simply by producing and reproducing images during the progressive making of a consumer society. Then, from the 50s and on, within the framework of a real « market factory « .

Branding then became such a powerful tool for the marketers that we eventually convinced ourselves that branding had been invented by marketers. Certainly, even then, we knew that something escaped us all the same. For example, Georges Lewi told us that the brand was the « unworthy girl of marketing « . With this provocative expression, Lewi was underlining our concern with the fact that we felt that the notion of branding was sleeping through our fingers. We used to say then that the brand had only meaning in the eyes of the consumers, that it belonged to them, etc. We used to say it all the more easily that it was not true, and we all knew it. The truth is that we had full control over the brand!

Today, all this does not appear to us as any more than a game, a simple speech. At the turn of the millennium, we heard Don Tapscott speaks about the transparency era; we just begin to realize the scope of what he announced. For a long time, the brand was for us, in fact, hardly more than a subtlety, a projection. The brand was a mask that we affixed on our products, our services, to build an identity, tell a story. A mask that has two functions: to give an appearance and to hide! In our world and exposed organizations, where transparency becomes the rule, the mask, of course, dissolves, fades. We thus pass from a « packaging » marketing to a marketing of content and relevance. I think that we do not completely measure the consequences of this other shift: the emergence of the total brand.

In a transparent world, indeed, where any company becomes a media, anything becomes part of the brand. Your products, your services, your employees, but also your supply chain, your suppliers, your partners, your hiring process, your commitments, your human resources policy, the management of your employees’ pension fund, your investments, the layout of your shops but also that of your administrative offices and so on. All these elements and many others contribute from now to the making of your brand.
With the emergence of this « total brand », in our era that is one of transparency, connection and distributed power, we no longer make our reality. From now on, we are no more producing it or being the manufacturers of our consumers. It changes everything. First, it means that, as brands are concerned, the answer to today’s problems cannot be obtained by a reflection, even radical, led in terms of tactics or strategies. It is another trade that we will have to learn, another mindset we will need to adopt.

Video Links :
1. Wine is a moment, not a liquid !
2. Credo, Incarnation, Circle. Do you have what it takes ?



VENUE: Cirque du Soleil (CDS)

Speakers of the day 
Richard LEPAGE (Director, Coaching and Performance, CDS)
Jay MELLETTE (Director, Performance Medicine, CDS)
Marie-Hélène PLAINFOSSÉ (Vice-president, Talent, Communications & CSR, Groupe Galeries Lafayette)
Richard DAGENAIS (Director – Creation, Events at 45 degrees) (TBC)
Marie Claude BERTRAND (Project manager – HR, CDS)
Cédric ORVOINE (Vice-president, HR, CDS)

VENUE: Ubisoft Montréal

Speakers of the day 
Roger PARENT (President, Ré
Julien LAFFERRIÈRE (Producer, Ubisoft)
Antoine VIMAL DU MONTEIL (Producer, Assassins Creed, Ubisoft)
Raphaël LACOSTE (Art Director & Illustrator, Ubisoft)
Jean GUESDON (Brand Content Manager, Ubisoft)
Philippe DUCHESNEAU (Lead AI / Game Programmer, Ubisoft)
Raphaël PARENT (Project Lead Programmer, Ubisoft)
Étienne ALLONIER (Brand Director, Ubisoft)
François DE BILLY (Entertainment, Associate producer, Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft)

3Rs: Review – Reflect – Recreate by Joanne ROBERTS et John ARMITAGE (Professor, Winchester Luxury Research group, University of Southampton)


Tuesday was a fantastic day of new experiences and the chance to absorb valuable information on the creative process from truly creative companies.

We began the day at Cirque du Soleil (CDS) with a tour, during which we saw where the CDS performances are prepared. This included the spaces where performers develop and practice their routines and the workshops in which their costumes are produced.

A presentation about C-LAB gave us an insight into innovation at CDS from the introduction of the trampoline in performances to the current explorations of the use of drones. The presentation included a short video of the history of CDS, which involved many images of performers flying through the air and executing amazing physical feats.

We also engaged in a number of activity based workshops led by CDS members. The first of these concerned percussion in which the group learned to beat drums together using two separate rhythms. The importance of the basic one-two beat, which reflects the heartbeat, was underlined as the foundation to all drum rhythms. So, while one can develop many different rhythmic variations, the basic beat stays the same. This was a reminder of the comments made by Kevin Dean during Sunday’s jazz session: that there are certain very basic things that remain constant even in the creation of music.

The second activity workshop involved physical play. We ran around the hall and played games, such as ‘Simon Says’. In undertaking this activity, we recreated the childhood pleasure of physical play and the fun and happiness that this offers. There was also an important lesson gleaned from CDS performers about working with others. In relation to this, we learned how important physical senses are in the development of performers’ abilities to work together safely and how it is through the development of these senses that performers are able to trust their colleagues – something that is vital to the success of the often dangerous physical acts that they perform.

During lunch we heard about the Galeries Lafayette competition and Pierre Balloffet presented the 3Rs from the previous day. This was followed by an account of CDS’s planned expansion through diversification into the theme park sector in Cancun, Mexico. Richard Degenais provided a detailed account of the proposal for the CDS theme park through a description of the various elements of the prospective theme park experience.

After lunch we visited Ubisoft Montreal. Following a welcome to the company, Roger Parent provided a presentation about his company Realizations. This was followed by a detailed account of the production process of the video game entitled ‘Assassin’s Creed’ from a range of Ubisoft employees. The various presentations covered the design, preproduction and production phases. The presentations related to these various phases included excerpts from video games. We felt very privileged to be given these first hand insights into the production of video games.

The day ended with a cocktail reception at Ubisoft, during which we were able to take a look at the wonderful view of Montreal from the top of the Ubisoft building.


Reflecting on the day, we were struck by some important similarities as well as differences between CDS and Ubisoft, so much so that our reflection on the day is based around consideration of the comparisons and contrasts between the two companies.

Firstly, both companies are concerned with the capabilities of the body. While CDS is overtly concerned with the physical capacities of the bodies of performers, Ubisoft is also concerned with the bodies of its video game characters and, indeed, one must remember that playing a video game involves physical activity in terms of hand eye coordination. Having viewed CDS’s introductory video and excerpts from Ubisoft’s video games, we were surprised by the similarity of the movements of CDS performers flying through the air, performing spectacular acrobatic feats, and the characters in the video games jumping up and seemingly flying across buildings and under and over obstacles. For CDS, the performance occurs in reality while for Ubisoft the characters are virtual. Nevertheless, in both cases, the characters located in the context of a story bound around a set with similar jumping, swinging and flying movements.

CDS’s focus on the body was clearly demonstrated during the activity workshops, where we all had a chance to use and inhabit our whole bodies. The activity sessions underlined the importance of knowledge embedded in the body, such as the significance of the rhythmic beat necessary in percussion. The body may be viewed as a repository of knowledge. Knowledge is embedded in the body. Some knowledge can only be accessed through action. The scientist and philosopher Michael Polanyi noted that ‘we know more than we can tell’. This is because some knowledge is tacit. We cannot codify such knowledge and it can only be learned through practice, that is, through learning by doing.

Since its inception, CDS has been focused on enhancing, facilitating and demonstrating the extraordinary ability of trained acrobats and athletes. This is where the company’s key skills or core competencies reside. Consequently, we were surprised to hear about the diversification of the company into the theme park sector. Even though this is to be facilitated with an experienced partner, we wonder whether this is too great a step away from the company’s core skills – perhaps a diversification too far? Moreover, the scale of the development may have significant ecological impacts that may be damaging to a company that has gained a reputation for positive social action through its various programmes and One Drop initiative. During the course of the visit we learned from colleagues that there have been significant changes in the ownership structure of CDS and we wonder whether the proposed diversification is a result of this change and perhaps a desire to leverage the company’s name merely for financial gains. Even on this basis, we feel that diversification into theme parks may be a brand extension too far, and we worry about the potentially negative impact on the company’s reputation.

In contrast, Ubisoft appears to be taking a more focused approach to growth, with new and more advanced versions of video games that have already achieved great market success. As we are not players of video games, we found the insights gained from the excerpts to reveal the games to be rather violent and very repetitious. They also appeared to be male centric with female characters that perhaps reveal the expectations of the male players rather than those of women. This male dominance is also reflected in the level of female employment in Ubisoft. The low proportion of women working for Ubisoft is reflected across the video games sector. However, we wonder how a higher proportion of women in the company might influence the development of the products. Moreover, Roger Parent made an interesting comment about gender in organizations: men go for growth and women go for balance. Long-term success may depend on a combination of growth and balance. Hence, the inclusion of more women in the sector may be vital for long-term competitiveness. Indeed, creativity is stimulated by interaction between diverse groups – a more diverse employment profile may result in greater opportunities for creativity.

In contrast to Ubisoft, CDS appears to have a great deal of diversity in its workforce – although we do wonder whether this is the case at all levels of the organization.


In considering what we can ‘recreate’ from the Creative Industries day we felt that a key lesson concerns the centrality of the role of the body in creativity and the fact that some elements must remain unchanged for creative developments to be successful.

In terms of Ubisoft and CDS, we believe that these companies could learn a lot from each other, particularly in relation to the body and its capacities but also related to growth and diversity strategies. Hence, a realization of our recreation for the day would be a workshop involving staff from Ubisoft and CDS facilitated by members of Mosaic and Roger Parent perhaps under the title of either Cirque du Soft or UbiSoleil.




VENUE: Société des arts technologiques (SAT)

Speakers of the day
Marlei POZZEBON (Professor, HEC Montréal)
Madanmohan RAO (Research Director, Your Story Media – Founder, Jazzuality)
Frank ESCOUBES (Executive chairman Bluenove, Founder of Imagination for People)
Sylvain CARLE (General Manager FounderFuel & Venture partner Real Ventures)
Valérie CHANAL (Professor, Université Pierre-Mendes France (UPMF), Grenoble)
Catherine BERTHILLIER (Founder, Shamengo)

3Rs: Review – Reflect – Recreate by Valérie CHANAL (Professor, Université Pierre-Mendes France (UPMF), Grenoble)

  1. Review

The presentations in Social entrepreneurship and innovation showed that in social entrepreneurship, one has to combine different aspects :

Cognition and emotion : examples of Catherine Berthillier / Shamengo
Dynamism of innovation initiatives in India shown by Madan, not only for the BOP.

Outcome and process : Marlei Pozzebon showed different cultural initiatives in Brazil. She pointed out that we should focus not only on the outcome but also on the process.
Sylvain Carle (FounderFuel) said that « we never have all the means towards the ends » and even if an entrepreneur fails, he or she will have created assets that can be reused in future projects.

Local initiatives and social changes: social entrepreneurship is often seen through the lens of the individual , but as Marlei said, it is also a matter of social changes, something that is rooted in history and tradition and has a social purpose that goes beyond the individual’s projects.

Individuals and Communities: even if we often look at entrepreneurs as heroes, social entrepreneurship is always a matter of communities, such as the community of sponsors around Founderfuel.

  1. Reflect

There are some specific difficulties in social entrepreneurship, in particular:

Create events with no money: it is not only a matter of finding sponsorship from private companies but rather to find individual talents that can be exchanged on a “competence market” that would replace the financial market. (Marlei Pozzebon)

Getting things done, focus and deliver: Sylvain Carle spoke about very short loops (one week) ; this can be linked to effectuation and also to agile project management.
For a nice method of task management (that I try to use), see David Allen’s Getting things done bestseller

Motivate communities: Franck Escoube showed that it is difficult to have communities contributing massively for other tasks than ideation. Social entrepreneurship should perhaps rather rely on relatively small communities, that can really contribute.

Finally, there is a creative challenge of finding business models. Example of Shamengo on the two-sided market constituted by pioneers and students, both of them not being in a position to pay something for the plateforme.

  1. Recreate

I introduce here my own interpretation of the Sharmer’s U model, that explains the different levels for a deep change [1].

Level 1 is a reactive level: downloading data to solve problems and achieve performance

Level 2 is more creative. It has to do with observing the world (seeing) and finding new problems and prototyping.
To go to a deeper change, you need to add to other levels

Level 3 is Sensing, what we could call emotional intelligence (see also Bruce Nussbaum’s Creative Intelligence). This type of intelligence leads to crystallizing a vision (that can be expressed in a manifesto).

The deepest level of the U is “presensing”, a combination of presence and sensing, and this will lead to act.

(NB : this for me has also to do with the cognitive – affective – conative model).

[1] Scharmer, Otto C. (2008). Theory U: Leading from the future as it emerges. Berlin: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.




VENUE: Maison Radio-Canada

Speakers of the day
John ARMITAGE (Professor, Winchester Luxury Research group, University of Southampton)
Joanne ROBERTS (Professor, Winchester Luxury Research group, University of Southampton)
Jean-Christophe BÉDOS (President & CEO Birks Group Inc.)
Isabelle MICHAUD (President, Monsillage – Parfums)
Mariouche Gagné (President / Designer, Harricana) TBC
Sylvain LAFRANCE (Professor, HEC Montréal)
Soleiman MELLALI (Editor-in-chief, Maison Radio-Canada) 

3Rs: Review – Reflect – Recreate by Lise BOILY (Professor, University of Ottawa)

coming soon



VENUE: Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium

Speakers of the day
Charles-Mathieu BRUNELLE (Executive Director, Montréal Space for Life)
Rachel LÉGER (Director, Biodôme)
Anne CHARPENTIER (Director, Insectarium)
René PRONOVOST (Director, Botanical Garden)

3Rs: Review – Reflect – Recreate by Olivier IRRMANN (Professor, Research Director, ADICODE ISEN Lille)

coming soon 


Program week 2 : Barcelona July 5-11, 2015