From idea to action, here's how these influencers bring concepts to life

Wednesday, 18 October 2017, 09:38:08 PM. How do you bring an idea to life? That question was at the center of two talks that kicked off Chicago Ideas Week, a series of more than 150 events around the city.

How do you bring an idea to life? That question was at the center of two events that kicked off Chicago Ideas Week, a series of more than 150 events around the city focusing on topics as diverse as politics, food, cybersecurity and entrepreneurship.

Facebook Vice President and Head of Design Luke Woods, Emmy Award-winning creative director and designer David Korins, and fashion designer Zac Posen helped kick off the events with a panel called “Collaborative Creativity and the Evolution of an Idea.” The conversation touched on multiple art forms, like theater, social media, cooking and fashion, but centered around design and the development of ideas.

Woods, who helped create Facebook’s Messenger and Safety Check features, said the company leans on its massive user base as it designs products.

“We spend a lot of time … doing research in the field with people and understanding how people are using Facebook and where they’re running into difficulties and what’s inspiring things they’re doing,” Woods said. “And that informs many of the products that we end up designing.”

Korins, whose past work includes stages for “Hamilton,” Lady Gaga and Kanye West, discussed a more intentional kind of collaboration. The creative process when he’s working with others often has two parts.

“The solitary part of it is one where you can let ideas grow, and then the collaborative part is one where you get to all rip it apart together, and the things that remain standing … are the ones that are pretty good,” he said.

Collaboration was also a topic of discussion at a conversation Tuesday called “Can a City Work Like a Startup?”

“Government, I don’t think, on its own can innovate,” said Phyllis Lockett, CEO of Leap Innovations, a Chicago-based nonprofit that connects educators with technology and funding and has worked with the Chicago Public Schools. “They have to have private partnerships that are free from the day-to-day challenges and the political pressure … facing government that locks down innovation on so many ways.”

But there also needs to be effort on the part of a city’s government, added Stephanie Wade, the senior program manager and designer for Bloomberg Philanthropies’ innovation teams.

“If the leadership isn’t willing to embrace the vision of being an innovative city, very little can happen,” said Wade, whose team helps local governments around the world develop and implement solutions to urban issues.

maclevine@chicagotribune.com

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