2019 Session Description

Cracking the Cultural Code
Strategies for managing cultural polarities to foster creativity

For adults • 90 minutes
Category: Learning
Friday 1:30pm • Court 4
Time and location subject to change (what isn't?)

We all know creative thinking thrives on diversity of input, right? But working with diversity, particularly in multicultural environments, can present a variety of challenges. Multiple variables need attention: communication, decision-making, collaboration, building trust and leadership, to name only a few. Managing all of these variables requires careful planning based on a clear understanding of cross-cultural best practices that can foster a creative environment when people from diverse background and values come to work together.

This session will explore the dimensions that underlie cultural diversity and their connections with creativity. By building an understanding of these dimensions and by viewing each as separate polarities, we can map different cultures in ways that explain behavioural differences and allow us to leverage them to achieve creative outcomes.

We will explore these dimensions and practice applying them through simulations and case examples. Deepening our awareness of what makes us different, we can design better programs, engage in more authentic collaborations, and live fuller, more creative lives.

The Skinny: 3 things you will do in this session

  • Understand the fundamental dimensions upon which all cultures differ and their connections with creativity
  • Recognize ways cultural differences are expressed through behaviour in a variety of situations
  • Practice cultural mapping as a method for managing cultural polarities
Tim Switalski
Buffalo, NY
Tim is a founding partner of the Center for Certification in Creativity were he serves as faculty, coach and coordinator of the coaching program. He is founder and president of Darwin Associates where he provides training, facilitation, coaching and consulting services to international clients focusing on the areas of Emotional Intelligence, Change Leadership and Creativity and Innovation.

As a master facilitator, coach and trainer, he has worked globally with several multinational corporations to help people develop their leadership potential, build cohesive teams and enhance their creative thinking skills.

Tim is the former Director of Leadership Development at Buffalo State College where he was responsible for providing ongoing learning and development opportunities for professional staff and faculty. His Creative Leadership program recently won a national award from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities for excellence in innovation and diversity. Tim is one of the founding members of CREA, an annual creativity conference held in Italy and currently serves as their program coordinator.


Tim is a returning presenter. Click to see what they've presented in the past.

Laura Barbero Switalski
Buffalo, NY
Laura is co-founder of the Center for Certification in Creativity (CCC), an organization devoted to the dissemination of creativity and the development of creative leadership and facilitation skills, in partnership with the International Center for Studies in Creativity, where she serves as faculty and program director.

Laura is a partner of Darwin Associates, a consulting firm in Buffalo, New York, specializing in organizational growth, creativity and change leadership. She works with organizations across North America, Central America, and Europe to facilitate creativity and innovation, help manage change and transition, and enhance teamwork and leadership. Born and raised in Italy, Laura lives in the United States, in Buffalo, NY, and has an extensive experience in working internationally and facilitating cross-cultural teams.

Laura holds a Master of Science degree in Creativity and Innovation from the International Center for Studies in Creativity at SUNY Buffalo State, where she is now adjunct faculty teaching a course at the Master program level. She a founding member and organizer of CREA Conference. Laura has coauthored the book Creativity Rising: Creative Thinking and Creative Problem Solving in the 21st Century, published by ICSC Press in April 2012.


Laura is a returning presenter. Click to see what they've presented in the past.

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