Tag Archives: creativity

Noise Annoys

I often hear noise being described as ‘unwanted sound’. As someone who grew up listening to a lot of punk music, I’m not sure it’s quite as simple as that. Sitting upstairs in my bedroom, I was frequently yelled at to turn off the noise noise noise, stop kicking up a racket, etc. This stuff wasn’t (and still isn’t) unwanted to me, and I readily accept it’s not everyone’s idea of good music.

Fortunately for you – I usually enjoy my music when I’m working alone, or with headphones on – so it needn’t trouble you, but what about the noise that’s not so easy to avoid? How does that affect you, particularly when you’re trying to work?

I met Paige Hodsman at the Workplace Trends conference last year. Paige works for Ecophon who specialise in acoustic solutions to improve the working environment, and we got to talking about how noise and sound affects your ability to be creative at work. After the event our conversation continued, and continued, until we decided to offer up an interactive workshop for people, to explore and experience how changes in the environment affect our ability and desire to be creative. That workshop is called The Art of Sound, and it takes place in Central London on June 7th. Would you like to come and take part? You can book a place here. It won’t cost you any money, and we’ll provide lunch and all the materials you’ll need. It would be lovely to see you.

Purely by chance, since Paige and I decided to run this session, I have come into contact with Chris Moriarty from Leesman, a company which gathers and shares all kinds of interesting data to help people understand their workplace performance. Chris has kindly shared some data with me which shows the extent to which people are concerned by noise at work, and how it impacts creative thinking and a host of other things besides. I’ve not had the data for long, and I can already see that of the 160,000 people who have currently responded to the Leesman Index survey, just over three quarters of them indicate that noise levels at work are important to them.

On average across the Index only 55.8% of people agree that the workplace enables them to be productive. However, when you look at those that have indicated that noise levels are important and they are happy with them, you see that number rise to 82.2% against those that are dissatisfied with noise down at 32.7%. A 49.5 percentage points difference.
Noise is also impacting enjoyment, this time there’s a 37.8 percentage points difference (78.2% satisfied vs 40.3% dissatisfied). These are big gaps. If we are to improve the workplace and make it more conducive to creative, and enjoyable working, then understanding this stuff is important, for people in workplace design and implementation, and for HR people too.

I can also see that noise is affecting many of the tasks we need to perform at work, and I’ll keep digging through what Chris has provided and share some more details at the event on June 7th. I hope to see you there, and until then, I’ll leave you with The Buzzcocks doing what they do best.

The Art of Wellbeing : Passing Strangers

We were talking, passing strangers
Moments caught across an empty room
Wasted whispers, faded secrets
Quickly passes, time goes, time goes by too soon – Passing Strangers : Ultravox

The Art of Wellbeing

We gathered together, a group of curious people, many of us meeting for the first, and only time. We talked in response to the question ‘What does wellbeing mean to you?’. We shared our thoughts, verbally, drawn, and written. There was an incredible openness among the group – we talked frankly and kindly about illness and death, as well as joy, art and good health too. Here are some snippets of our conversation, and some drawings too, reproduced anonymously, with the kind permission of the group.

What does wellbeing mean to you?

An inquiry – it will lead to more questions.
Being here, in this lovely place, sharing.
Working with anxiety – health – mood.
Is it wellbeing, or being well? The latter feels more active, less corporatised.
Creating (art) helps you feel well.
Craft and creativity – in flow.
Healing.
Sharing is part of wellbeing.
Wellbeing is moving – fulfilment – progress.
Sharing feelings with strangers.
See the clock, want to beat the clock
London – it’s too much. Great to visit – wouldn’t want to live here.
Lines/strands – and where they take us.
Seeking to extrapolate that which cannot be extrapolated.

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One hour later, as quickly as we had gathered, we dispersed. Lots of smiles, lots of handshakes, lots of thanks, and goodbyes.

We were talking, passing strangers
Moments caught across an empty room
Wasted whispers, faded secrets
Quickly passes, time goes, time goes by too soon

I spent yesterday afternoon working in The Reading Room at The Wellcome Collection, a wonderful place in London which describes itself as ‘the free destination for the incurably curious’. The Wellcome Collection runs an Open Platform series of events, and kindly accepted my proposal for this pop up Art of Wellbeing workshop. Anyone can apply to run one of these sessions, I thoroughly recommend you give it a try.

Acknowledgements

The staff at The Wellcome Collection looked after me and the group really well, making it really easy for me to facilitate an excellent conversation and much more. Thank you to them, and to Valerie and Nick in particular. Thank you to Kev Wyke who spotted the opportunity to work at The Wellcome Collection and flagged it to me. Thank you to everyone who came and took part so wholeheartedly.

Leap Day Learning

A review of Leap Day 2016

Act One : Scene One

Monday 29th February 2016, a group of 15 intrepid, curious explorers gathered at The British Library. I distributed our Leap Day journals, and read a short poem which we discovered on Leap Day 2012. This poem was printed and stuck into each copy of the journal.

The Leap Day Poem

Act One : Scene Two

With our nod to the previous Leap Day complete – we took time to explore the Alice in Wonderland exhibition at The British Library. As we did so – we thought about beginnings, and before we headed off down the rabbit hole to our next destination, we stood and shared some of the things we found. I’ve written many in my journal, here are just a few:

She generally gave herself very good advice (though she very seldom followed it). Found by Jo Stephenson in the exhibition.

You do not know if
What you leave behind
Will weave into our world
And ignite beauty into our mind

A poem by Meg Peppin

‘It’s too dark to read anything except your thoughts’ I forget who spotted this. If it was you – let me know and I’ll pop your name in here.

From the point of ignition
To the final drive
The point of the journey
Is not to arrive
Anything can happen…
N. Peart

That’s enough about lessons, tell her about games now. Found by Steve Chapman in the exhibition.

With our beginnings shared, we headed off. As we left the building, we shared some home made chocolate and cranberry brownies. When Alice at the ‘Eat Me’ cake, she grew. I wondered how we would grow throughout the day.

Act Two : Scene One

Some of us walked to Tate Modern, some caught the tube. On arrival, we explored an exhibition titled Making Traces and considered a few questions. The questions were:

How do you leave a trace?

A footprint, a photograph or a mark of where you were?
What do traces tell us about what happened before?
What trace would you leave for others to discover?

I traced the outline of my hand into my journal, then made another copy of my hand on a sheet of tracing paper, following the lines of the grain on the wooden floor of the gallery. I overlaid one onto the other. I made some drawings, copying and blind drawing (method illustrated here), and I thought about physical traces, online traces, and legacy too. I found this process thoughtful, enjoyable, uplifting, particularly when considering legacy. Here is some of my work.

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Act Two : Scene Two

As we prepared to leave Tate Modern I distributed pieces of an artwork titled Good Hearts, which I made over the weekend. I wasn’t sure how to integrate this gift into the day, and as we stood together in the gallery, this felt like the right time to give.

Good Hearts

Interlude : Lunch and conversations at Borough Market

Act Three : Scene One

Over lunch, some conversations emerged about what to do next. We decided to walk to the National Theatre where we would stop, and make some art. Like everything in the day – this was an invitation, and on arrival, some of us drew and painted, some of us did other things. Those of us who made art, agreed to distribute it for others to pick up and take home – a collective trace of Leap Day. What a lovely idea. Here is some of our art.

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Act Three : Scene Two

Those of us who remained – drifted to the bar and shared some more good conversation over a drink. Thanks to everyone who came along for a day of useful fun. Without people, you’re nothing.

Exit stage left.

Producer’s notes:

Michelle Parry-Slater has kindly written about her Leap Day experience here.

Steve Chapman has kindly written a piece related to Leap Day and more, here.

I used Twitter and Slack to coordinate Leap Day and correspond with everyone. I think I only sent two emails, both very early on in the preparation. I was new to Slack – and found it a bit tricky to adopt but once I got my feet under the virtual desk, I found it a useful place to share project information, news and updates with the group.

I enjoy this work because: it’s fun, I learn new things, I like doing things for others : making the journals, the Leap Day logo, the art, the chocolate brownies, all these things were a pleasure.

We were short of time at the end of Leap Day and several people left their art with me – I agreed to distribute it for them. Fortunately I was in a position to retrace some of our steps later in the week so the commitment was fulfilled in close proximity to where the making took place. I enjoyed the process of honouring the group and letting go of the work for others to find. As this piece says, ‘JUST CREATE and don’t be attached to it’.

Just Create

Be invitational, be kind, be encouraging, be open to possibilities.