Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 26th 2013 Contents A36
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Last week, the Ministry of Planning hosted inter-
ested citizens to a panel discussion titled The Human
Imagination at Work.
The participants were an intriguing group; the
dependably precise and unforgiving Leroy Clarke, an
animated and animating Camille Selvon-Abrahams,
the grown-up enfant terrible Steve Ouditt and the
unknown factor, at least as far as creative circles go,
Nicholas Lok Jack, TTMA president.
Even in the politely circuitous and gently acidic
repartee of men who proved to be a Paria s worth of
gulf apart, the very real question of what constitutes
creativity, imagination and innovation was contested
Senator Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie got things rolling
by claiming lead
authorship of Costatt,
the National Training
Agency and that
notable generator of
MBAs, the Institute of
Business, now oper-
ating under the name
of its principal bene-
factor, Arthur Lok
asserting that "innovation cannot exist without imag-
ination," Tewarie suggested that these career-defining
efforts constituted "innovation interventions."
Later in the discussion, Clarke seemed to be address-
ing this assertion by noting that, "This thing called
imagination needs imagination to deal with it."
And there were, unquestionably, flights of quite
impressive imagination on display.
Ouditt, who is quite capable of jerking one s intel-
lectual chain while affecting the gravitas of the lead
priest at a state funeral, opened the evening s discus-
sions by declaring it, "an acknowledgement that our
imaginative product has been restricted, even retarded
in its progress."
Having put that on record, he then proceeded to
recount a discourse with his pet hound, Prof Richard
Dogkins, which encompassed a series of wild con-
jectures about labrador-led laboreteums, dementia
dogs and the like.
Was Ouditt making high-level points with amplified
absurdity or just having an educated laugh at an audi-
ence in search of an elusive key to improving imag-
ination? Did he simply decide to take the conversation
to the dogs early on?
Both Clarke and Lok Jack offered their experiences
with imagination through the perspective of very dif-
ferent childhoods, Clarke cleaning pennies in Gonzales,
Lok Jack getting his business lessons from his father
on the way to his first job as a pool boy.
Selvon-Abrahams challenged the audience to come
to terms with the need to begin "imagining ourselves."
The animation programme founder was able to
point to a quite specific innovation intervention, the
use of cardboard models of a city in animation class
to teach mathematics. That project moved a 70 per
cent fail rate in the subject to an 80 per cent pass rate,
evidence that the radical change she envisions in the
classroom can pay positive real world dividends.
But ultimately, this was an effort to grapple with
imagination, creativity and innovation, words that the
business sector has become quite entranced with in
an era in which digital invention is defining corporate
Nobody, it seems, has noticed that after raising the
flags of Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google, most
business leaders seem curiously unaware of activity
in the world of digital development, being more keen
to co-opt the hipness of such flourishing invention
for their enterprises.
Nobody really wants to talk about good old-fashioned
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online here: (http://ow.ly/adAll).
profit and labour anymore, it seems, despite its lynchpin
role as the motivator of business.
In all this keenness to package and haul some imag-
ination off into business, it seems that the notion of
reversing that flow and infusing creative industries
with some business support and savvy isn t part of
the plan. That, more than anything else, is what T&T
desperately needs to become more competitive.
"All peaks are levelled to a muddy plain," Clarke
warned, concluding an extended metaphor for creative
Unfortunately, to most in business that tends to
look like a great place to drop concrete and develop.
LeRoy Clarke and Camille
respond to questions
from the audience at The
Human Imagination at
Work, a panel discussion
hosted by the Ministry of
Planning and Sustainable
PHOTO: MARK LYNDERSAY.
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