Tag Archives: innovation

The Spaces in Between

Just between us
I think it’s time for us to realize
The spaces in between
Leave room for you and I to grow – Neil Peart

Good architecture is often invisible, but it allows whatever is happening in that space to be the best experience possible – Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Workspace without imagination is just an empty room – Yours truly

Last week I spent a day at the ChangeBoard Future Talent Conference. In truth I’m becoming tired of ‘The Future of…(insert the things you’d like to see improved here)’. It feels too much like an excuse to me – if we could make ‘The Now of…(insert the things you’d like to see improved here)’ better, then to some extent, the future will take care of itself. Too much aspiration, not enough action. Here are a few notes and thoughts from one of the talks which I enjoyed, and which focused more on the present.

Kursty Groves. Founder – Headspace. Space Matters: How physical environment can enhance creativity & innovation in our digital world

Draw a meeting – in 30 seconds. What a great start to a talk – a chance to put pencil to paper. Here’s my response to that lovely invitation.

Draw a Meeting

We need innovation – yet we design for efficiency, and then we wonder why we don’t get innovation.

We often don’t understand the creative environment we are operating in so we borrow from others (Google, beanbags, etc) and wonder why that doesn’t work. You are you. Where you have your best ideas is not necessarily where others do.

What do we know? Nature matters – so does movement. Not a pot plant and a treadmill. Green exercise. As far as I’m concerned – an opportunity to get outside to clear your head think about work, or whatever, is usually worth taking.

When it comes to the workplace, and indeed many other things besides, we assume you have to use what you are given ‘as is’. What happens when we move stuff round? Clear desks out of the way, change the position of stuff. I know from my own experience the dynamic of a team can change purely by changing the layout of the room. If the space you are in affords you the flexibility – try it.

Some numbers – for those who like that kind of thing. Sourced from Reading University I believe. Productivity uplift of 17% when you can personalise a lean desk (hot desk, flexi desk – call it what you will) – this rises to 32% when people feel they can choose where to work and/or have an input in the design.

You can see Kursty’s slides here – which include a selection of ‘meeting drawings’ that previous audiences have come up with. What I really liked about listening to Kursty was that she offers ideas you can experiment with and adjust, now. Not tomorrow, now.

To move forward, people need to be inspired: they need buildings that enhance their creativity and push them to take the future into their own hands. Diebedo Francis Kere


Apologies in advance – despite the title, today’s post has nothing to do with horses (oh alright then – you can have a photo). It is in fact, about three events coming up in London soon that I hope will interest you, challenge you and help bring out your creative side. I’m going to all three – hope to see you out and about.


ConnectingHR is having its fifth unconference in London on Friday June 21st. This will be the fifth one I’ve attended (don’t worry – I’m not an addict, I could stop if I wanted…..honest), and based on my experiences at the previous four, I’m looking forward to it. I should declare an interest in so far as I’m part of the team helping to organise this one, but don’t panic, I’m not allowed out on my own and I’ve decided this will be the last one I take part in, at least in this capacity. So in future, it’s a delegates life for me. Psssst, do you wanna help organise number six?

Our theme for this unconference is: Brave HR. What does that mean? Beyond an acknowledgement that our approach to work needs to evolve, it’s really up to you. If you would like a little guidance, then why not take a look at this 10 point agenda for change written by Neil Morrison at the start of 2013. Beyond the outline theme the agenda will be driven by you, the attendee, on the day. Tickets and more information are available now for £125.

Development Jam

Following our successful Facilitation Jam in January of this year, here’s another chance to play. This time we’ll be spending a day pitching some new ideas and getting feedback on them. The event is at the NCVO near Kings Cross on Friday 28th June 2013, and we’d like to invite you to join in.

The day will be quite free flowing with no one person responsible for leading the day. Instead we invite you to take turns to prepare and run a session during the event and receive immediate feedback on your ideas from your colleagues. You may be looking to improve on some existing ideas you use – you may want to try something completely new. However you choose to play, it’s up to you. This is being run as a not for profit event, you only pay to cover costs. We estimate the cost will be less than £100 per person, and we require a deposit payment from you now of just £50 to secure your place, with the balance paid on the day. There are only a few spaces available and we hope you will join us for a useful day this Summer.

Property Trading Game

Trainer’s KitBag are running a Property Trading Game open day in London on July 18th. It’s free to attend, and based on the feedback from previous attendees it promises to be a great day out. There aren’t many spaces left so if you fancy a good, challenging day out – don’t hang about.

photo credit

Creative Leadership – Memorative Art

My latest trip to the USA was great fun. I met a lot of friends, saw some fantastic sights and did some really interesting work. All these things are memorable, and is there something that really anchored the trip in my mind?

Maybe it was that I happened to be in Chicago at the same time the Art Institute was showing an exhibition of Pablo Picasso’s work? I’m a huge admirer of Picasso. I find his work often moves me to tears, it’s incredibly powerful stuff. Bold, abstract, conventional, unconventional, prolific. The exhibition in Chicago is a remarkable walk through the life of Picasso. You get to see aspects of every kind of art he produced and although the exhibition contains mainly lesser known pieces, its breadth and depth is outstanding. The exhibition also referenced a piece of public art I was previously unaware of.

Untitled by Picasso

Picasso donated this untitled sculpture to the city of Chicago in 1967 without ever explaining what the sculpture was intended to represent. I got talking to a woman at the exhibition who told me most people think it represents a horse. She also explained where the statue is located so I headed off to take a look. Checking in at 50 feet tall and weighing over 160 tons, it is huge, quite a sight to behold. You can walk right around it and I did, stopping here to appreciate its beauty from another angle.

Untitled by Picasso - Side View

It is this image which now evokes memories of all the other interesting and exciting experiences I had in Chicago.

This visual, artistic experience led me to think that often when we endure a presentation – there are lots of words on the screen. This creates a disconnect between the audience, the presenter, and the material as people tend to focus on either the slide or the presenter. Using a handful of words and a few relevant images to support your talk usually creates a much more powerful, memorable encounter. Often people will recall to me a talk I’ve given in the past, and their memory of it will be drawn from one or two pictures and phrases that have stuck firmly in the mind.

In the field of personal development it’s widely acknowledged there are different learning styles. What’s less well known about, is something called Memorative Art. This method, which has been around for thousands of years includes ‘the association of emotionally striking memory images within visualized locations, the chaining or association of groups of images, the association of images with schematic graphics or notae (“signs, markings, figures” in Latin), and the association of text with images.’

I already use some of this thinking in my work, and I expect plenty of you do too, even if you weren’t consciously aware of the Memorative Art method. It’s a powerful example of the connection between art and work, and is part of what we can usefully employ when exploring pathways to creativity and collaboration.