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Creativity by Design
A Professional Learning Experience for School District Leaders
October 1416, 2013, San Francisco, California 


October 14-16, 2013

Event begins at noon on October 14 and concludes at noon on October 16

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The Huntington Hotel Nob Hill 
1075 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94108

With visits to:
Pixar, Autodesk, and the Walt Disney Family Museum 


Registration: $1,350, which includes

  • The learning events
  • All meals
  • 2 nights lodging at the Huntington Hotel
  • Transportation to daily events and return to Oakland Airport (OAK)*
  • 11 hours of CPE Credits

*Ground transportation will be provided by Luxor Executive Car Service

Registrants are responsible for their own air travel and transportation from the arrival airport to the hotel. Transportation to field trip locations and to Oakland airport (OAK) on October 16 will be provided through Luxor Executive Car Service.

Registration Transfer Policy: Registrations may be transferred to an individual within your own district up to the date of the field trip with no additional fee.

Cancellation Policy: 50% of the registration fee will be refunded for cancellations made before or on August 31, 2013. No refunds will be issued after this date.

Space is limited to the first 50 who register. The venues will only accommodate 50, and to keep the quality of the experience, we must limit the number of participants.

Driving Directions 


Shannon Stepan 

Purchase Orders should be addressed to:

PO Box 1218
Washougal, WA 98671

Email to collaborate@syfrspace.net (preferred) or fax to 360-314-6153.  

More Information

Christine Drew, co-author of The Art of Learning, is the Chief Creative Officer at Syfr.   Christine has contributed thirty-five years to public education as a teacher, assessment consultant, and education software developer. Christine consults with school districts and businesses on instructional leadership, reframing classroom instruction informed by data from assessments, creativity, and twenty-first century skills development.

Richard Erdmann is the lead author of The Art of Learning and CEO and Founder of Syfr. Dick's career spanned forty years in public education as a consultant, a software entrepreneur, and in public policy discourse. Dick consults with school districts and businesses on change leadership, learning from the individual to the organizational level, technology, globalization, and creativity.

Ground Transportation and

Extra Hotel Night Options

If you did not opt for ground transportation from your arrival airport or you need to add a hotel night to accommodate an early arrival on October 13th, you may do so here.

Ground Transportation from arrival airport to the Huntington Hotel: We have arranged special pricing with Luxor Executive Car Service to provide optional ground transportation from your arrival airport to the Huntington Hotel. Once we have received your payment, it is your responsibility to notify Luxor of your flight information (see the Travel Information included in your registration documents or call 360-779-6634 for instructions.)

Ground Transportation Option: $35

Extra hotel night for arrival on October 13. SOLD OUT - Please call 360-779-6634 if you would like to be put on a waiting list or if we can help you select a different hotel for the night.

How does an organization design itself to promote and sustain learning, creativity, and innovation? How do we design a learning environment for our students that prepares them for a world in which the rate of change continues to accelerate?

Creativity by Design's
 one-of-a-kind journey through some of today's most creative companies will bring your transformational thinking to a whole new level.  You'll learn from successful corporate leaders and educators how to design creative learning environments within constructive constraints. 

We invite you to join us for this remarkable event!

This inspiring trip will provide you with the opportunity to go behind the scenes at three hugely successful companies—Pixar Studios, Autodesk, and the Walt Disney Family Museum—engaging the companies innovative leaders in a discussion on the complex idea of designing to ignite and sustain creativity and learning.

Even in the creative industry of movie making, Pixar—the inventor of the computer-animated, full-length feature film—is something of a phenomenon. Roughly 50% of the movies released today make money at the box office. Since 1995, when Pixar released Toy Story, it has released 12 more movies, all of which not only made money at the box office, but also were blockbusters. Most (11 of 13) were nominated for at least one Academy Award and several won that prestigious award. Pixar Co-Founder Ed Catmull, currently president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, and Tony DeRose, a senior scientist and lead of Pixar's Research Group, will offer an inside look at Pixar's culture of innovation and how they have sustained that creativity and their enviable level of success over a 25-year span.

When Daniel Pink spoke at the TASA Midwinter Conference in 2009, he mentioned six senses for the 21st century. Design was first on his list. Autodesk didn't invent the industry, but certainly helped build—and now dominates—the field of 3D, computer-aided design. A software supplier and partner of Pixar's, Autodesk has been listed as one of the top 50 innovative companies in the world and has a strong corporate commitment to education.

You will have an opportunity to contrast these two very different companies in terms of their growth strategies, one through building internal technical and creative capacity and the other through assimilating creative and technical talent and products from small, entrepreneurial companies. How do these companies maintain their leadership position in the industry, continually innovate, and expand all at the same time? You will also hear similar messages about who they hire and their view of the future demand for talent.

Walt Disney Family Museum
In the same way as people do, Pixar used a model to accelerate its organizational learning. The model? The Walt Disney Company of the 1930s into the 1950s, whose organizational creative processes have stood the test of time. A fitting end to our trip is a visit to the Walt Disney Family Museum and a look at the crossover from physics into animation. Before we head over to the museum, Dr. Alejandro Garcia, physics professor at San Jose State University, will introduce us to the animation process through a discussion of the interdisciplinary nature of film animation as the combination of physics and art. As the physics consultant for DreamWorks Animation's Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, Garcia illustrates the real-world value of educating students in both the arts and sciences.

The field trip includes a discussion with the co-founders of Syfr and authors of The Art of Learning book series and Art as Learning, aligning the field trip to the educational organization of the district, the school, and the classroom.


Monday, October 14

Arrival and Pixar Animation Studios Visit

10:45 a.m.  Plan to arrive at the San Francisco (SFO) or Oakland (OAK) airport early enough to allow for arrival at Huntington Hotel Nob Hill by noon (there are eight rooms available for arrival the night before for those traveling from the Texas Valley who may need extra travel timeyou can request these during the registration process). Go to Huntington Hotel Nob Hill for pre-check in. 

12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Bus to Pixar Animation Studios with box lunch on board 

1:00 – 5:00 p.m.Pixar Animation Studios visit

While the agenda for this trip is not yet final, our 2009 trip included an hour with Ed Catmull, Pixar co-founder and current president of both Pixar and Disney Animation Studios; a panel of movie directors; and Tony DeRose, senior scientist and lead for the Pixar Research Group. 

From the outside, Pixar appears to be built around three ideas. Its success depends on working with creative, innovative, and talented people. It believes in the power of story. It will maintain a leadership position in computer-animated film. Yet its answer to each of these challenges is quite unique. The agenda will pursue these ideas.

  1. Most movies are made with a team assembled specifically for the movie. Pixar’s movies are made by the organization, and team members are permanent employees of Pixar. Of all the movie companies, Pixar comes closest to how school districts must address innovation because of its in-house development structure and processes. How does Pixar create the collision of ideas necessary to maintain innovation with an in-house team? How does it manage innovation? 
  2. John Lasseter,  co-founder and chief creativce officer of Pixar, is the heart and soul behind the company's commitment to story and its telling through art as well as script. How does a company bring into a creative team the diverse interests of technological innovation, art, and storytelling that appeals to adults as well as children?
  3. One of the interesting aspects of most technology innovations is the proprietary nature of the innovation. While Pixar certainly has proprietary product, like the software used to create animation, it has chosen to push that software into the industry to change and elevate the industry rather than to create a competitive advantage. It has made similar decisions for its employees resulting in them presenting at conferences and writing for various journals. How is this concept of collaboration within an industry consistent with building a creative force in a competitive field? 

5:00 6:00 p.m.   Bus returns to hotel

7:00 8:30 p.m.   Dinner

Tuesday, October 15
Autodesk Visit

8:00 9:00 a.m.  Breakfast

9:00 9:30 a.m.  San Francisco Trolley ride to Autodesk

9:30 a.m. 3:30 p.m.  Autodesk visit

The Autodesk Gallery at One Market in San Francisco celebrates the design process that takes a great idea and turns it into a reality. With more than 20 different exhibits regularly on display that showcase the innovative work of Autodesk customers, the gallery illustrates the role technology plays in great design and engineering. The gallery itself was renovated using an integrated project delivery (IPD) approach—an emerging business model in the building industry that allows the entire extended team to collaborate and efficiently drive projects toward their best outcomes.

We'll tour Autodesk's gallery and labs, where we will learn about Autodesk’s role in education, their culture of risk taking and innovation, what a 21st century graduate should look like and what schools can do to encourage this change, and we will tour their gallery and labs.

3:30 6:30 p.m.  Trolley back to hotel and on your own

6:30 7:30 p.m.    Reception and structured conversations from Days 1 and 2

7:30 – 8:30 p.m.  Dinner

Wednesday, October 16
Walt Disney Family Museum Visit

7:30 8:00 a.m. Check out and luggage loading

8:00 9:30 a.m. Breakfast with Professor Alejandro Garcia

9:30 10:00 a.m.  Bus to the Walt Disney Family Museum

The Disney company created many firsts. They were the first to truly experiment with color and released the first feature length movie in color. They developed the technology that allowed drawn animation to have perspective. They created platforms of knowledge and expertise (Steven Johnson’s term) that enabled expanded adjacent possibilities. They were the first to merchandise their movie characters. They formalized their relationship to their audiences. They transformed movies into a more broad-based concept of entertainment. How did they do it—how did they design learning? What are the similarities to Pixar? What are the lessons for classrooms, schools, and school districts?

10:00 a.m.  12 p.m.  1 hour docent guided tour; 1 hour on your own

12:00 p.m.  Bus to Oakland airport with box lunch on board

Please plan your departure from Oakland (OAK) airport. We will go directly to the airport following our visit to the Walt Disney Family Museum.