Category Archives: HR

The Art of Innovation : HR Inner Circle

This week, I spent a very interesting and enjoyable day at the 2017 HR Inner Circle Conference. I got to meet and speak with a lot of interesting people, I heard two friends, Phil and Ian, talk about their work, and I spoke with the audience about exploring and applying the creative process to our work. There will be some video footage emerging sometime soon and if I can unpick a few useful clips, I’ll happily share them. For now though, here’s an annotated version of the slides I used to accompany my session, I hope they prove useful.

 

In addition to all the interesting conversations, there is another reason why the day was so enjoyable. Daniel Barnett and his team, our hosts for the day, were outstanding. They took great care of all their guests, and made my experience as a speaker a really good one too. Briefings and advice I received beforehand were spot on, and on the day, everything was done to enable me to be at my best. It is unusual to encounter such a blend of good preparation, genuine interest, and great service. Thank you.

Nail Bar : Responding to Differences

I was at the CIPD conference in Manchester recently, and decided as the continuation of experimenting with difference, to have my nails done for the second year running. Why? Two main reasons. First, I was curious to see how people reacted, and second, overall I enjoyed the experience the first time and simply wanted to repeat it.

In 2015 I chose a dark purple as my colour, this year I went with green. Both times I enjoyed the experience of the manicure itself – thanks to the good people at Peter Marcus. and the subsequent reactions from people fascinated me.

While reflecting on this recently, a friend asked me how I reacted to myself. Here’s what I recalled:

Part One.

In 2015 I had my nails done for the first time. Keira and I have played around with nail varnish at home loads of times, this was the first time in public. The person in the nail bar commented I was the first man customer who had asked for a manicure and polish. I chose a deep purple varnish. I left the nail bar and immediately scuffed a nail – went back and was fixed up again. Left for a second time feeling very self conscious. That feeling stayed with me and I attracted a range of feedback. Surprise, delight, confusion, acknowledgement of bravery, curiosity (why would I do such a thing?), and disapproval. The uncertainty stayed with me. I remember hiding my nails from view on the tube on the way home.

Part Two.

In 2016 I went back for another go. The person in the nail bar remembered me, we had a few laughs, made sure my nails were properly dry this time! I felt much less self conscious this year, and I think as a result of this, I attracted far fewer comments. I occasionally found myself hiding my nails but for the most part, I think they looked good and I liked what I’d had done and enjoyed the experience.

Part Three.

Based on this experiment, it seems that I invite reactions from other people more than I previously thought I did. There is no good reason why I felt awkward, beyond my own hangups and my perception of the prejudices of others. This is a small experiment in how people, me included, respond to difference. As an older white man, I have all/most of the privilege in many situations. The nails is a way of me disarming and enjoying myself, and I still get nervous/uncertain etc. I’m keeping going.

Part Four.

Best £25 I’ve spent in ages!

nail-bar

In addition to the nails experiment, which I will be repeating soon, I sometimes choose to wear shorts to work in the summer months. This is another one of those small differences which in some cases, attracts interesting responses. Internally I wrestle with ‘is it acceptable to wear shirts to work?’ even in very high temperatures. I frequently talk myself out of shorts and into trousers, then regret this when I’m overheating on a crowded tube in London. Additionally – I note that people (it is nearly always men) who react in any way to the shorts situation, do so by mocking me for my choice. To what extent I invite this reaction, I am unsure.

I find this kind of experiment fascinating – in terms of what I learn about others and myself, and as a reminder of my own prejudices, and as a reminder to be kind. If you’ve tried anything similar – I’d love to hear from you.

I Wish…

I’m attending an event this week called The Big Tent. It’s part of an initiative (mild panic) currently being run by the CIPD and Jericho Chambers, under the banner of ‘The Future of Work is Human‘. By way of further explanation of what to expect on Wednesday, I’ve pinched this from the event website:

Through a mix of panel discussions, videos and small table-based conversations we will explore whether the future of work really should, can and will be human and if so, how to support, develop and harness that power into a successful, productive and fulfilled workforce.

The gathering will combine inspiring plenary talks, open conversations and workshops, through which the community will rotate to contribute and challenge existing ideas. The conversations will be hosted by those currently running the work streams and other aspects of the Future of Work is Human project. It will conclude with a “what can we learn/what can we apply?” commitment session to help build a shared manifesto.

Prior to attending the event, we’ve been invited to email in a wish. I sent in:

‘I wish…we would all be a little kinder to one another’

and because I can sometimes be a little greedy, I have a few more wishes too.

  • I wish I didn’t feel under pressure to wear a suit to the event.
  • I wish we were a little less self interested, and a little more community focused.
  • I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller.
  • I wish we were better at learning from our mistakes.
  • I wish we didn’t assume that hierarchical seniority is the same things as leadership.
  • I wish to integrate the difference without losing it.
  • I wish we were more interested in cocreation and coactive power, and less interested in coercion.
  • I wish the trains ran on time.

Doubtless there will be lots shared during and after the event, I’ll signpost stuff on the day and beyond. In the meantime, whether you are going to the event or not, I’d love to hear your wishes too, please.