Tag Archives: sketch

Obrigado Lisboa!

Second Time Around

This week I took my second trip to the city of Lisbon. Last time I visited as a tourist to take in a MotoGP race with two good friends, this time I was a guest of 3g Office at their 2015 Lisbon Workplace Conference. I flew over late afternoon on the Wednesday and took a couple of hours to reacquaint myself with the Bairro Alto, a beautiful historic district in the heart of Lisbon.

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Stranger On The Town

I was joined on Thursday morning by bright sunshine and Andy Swann, who was also in town for the conference.

Sunlight Over Lisbon

We enjoyed a lovely walk together before heading over to Microsoft’s new Lisbon offices for the conference. When we jumped onto the subway it was a warm sunny day, but by the time we got off it was hammering down with rain. Andy and I splashed around in unfamiliar territory getting absolutely soaked. We eventually found a taxi and jumped in, dripping wet. The driver took us to Microsoft, all of 150 metres round the corner! Sardines are a famous Portuguese dish, and Andy and I arrived into the conference hall as wet as any sardine swimming in the neighbouring river Tajo. It was a fun, albeit unusual way to make an entrance.

An Environment for People to Thrive

Andy spoke about the workplace as an environment for people to thrive. He was good humoured and positive in his delivery and took a nice gentle swipe at a few things too, including the mot du jour – ‘disruption’. I’m sure he will share thoughts on his session somewhere soon, for now – here are a few snapshots (sorry my iPhone camera really doesn’t cope in poor light).

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Most of the event was presented in Spanish, and I found it oddly interesting trying to interpret what was going on purely from the visual aids.

The Art and Soul of Better Work

I was on last and spoke about the art and soul of better work. The session was based on my work using art as a way of exploring how to make improvements in what we do, and some personal experiences related to the importance and power of getting to know one another better. As I practice this work more and more (to date almost 500 people have experienced Art for Work’s Sake), I am finding it a little easier to talk about it with sincerity and confidence. I still get nervous, and on reflection I could have shown more examples of real work done by real people in this space, and the session was really well received. Here are the visual aids I used – and if you click the link you will find some of my speaker notes and links to further relevant resources too.

The art and soul of better work – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

After Hours

With the formal proceedings over everyone enjoyed some time to talk over a few drinks, before a few of us headed out to dinner. Prior to our departure I was fortunate to speak with Nelson Paciencia who kindly allowed me to share his notes from my session with you.

Conference Notes

Nelson is a talented artist – I encourage you to take a look at his work.

Dinner was great fun, and afterwards our hosts insisted we carry on into the night. We had a lovely evening and before I knew it, and with far too little sleep, I was back at the airport heading home.

To close – here is a very short video showing a few Lisbon highlights…

…and a lovely conference sketchnote, by Maria.

Conference Sketchnote

Art for Work’s Sake – Milton Keynes

After the success of Art for Work’s Sake in Euston a few weeks ago, we’re running another one in the new year. This time it will be taking place in Milton Keynes. Full details and how to buy tickets are shown below. There are a maximum of 16 places available, six have already been taken. It would be great if you can join us, and please tell your friends and colleagues.

Art For Work’s Sake

You are invited to Art for Work’s Sake, a workshop designed to help people explore art and artistry as a way of making work more effective.

During the workshop you will have the opportunity to try out a variety of drawing, sketching, painting and other art forms. These techniques will be combined into a series of methods designed to help you think more clearly and creatively about your day to day work.

A guest at our recent London workshop left saying, ‘It seems I can draw, despite 20+ years thinking I couldn’t! It only took 60 seconds to realise I can’. Despite this, the purpose of this workshop is not to turn you into an artist, it is designed simply to give you the time and space to explore a few new techniques to help you think differently at work.

Art for Work's Sake example sketch

All materials will be provided and you will get to keep all your work plus pencils, charcoal, a set of water colour paints and some high quality heavy duty cartridge paper.

You have the option to purchase a discounted set of Stop Doing Dumb Things Cards when you buy your ticket. These cards have been designed to help unlock creativity and make work better and are in use in the UK, Canada, USA and Australia. The set of 48 cards normally sell for £36 per pack inclusive of VAT and shipping. When you purchase them as part of this workshop the cost is only £23. Make sure you select the Stop Doing Dumb Things Special ticket and you’ll get your set of cards at the workshop.

Stop Doing Dumb Things Cards

I am facilitating this workshop and donating my time for free on this occasion, and the venue has kindly been provided by Boots The Chemists, thanks to Helen Amery. We will break for lunch – the cost of this is not included in the ticket price.

Tickets are available here, and I hope you will join us for a few hours of useful and enjoyable creative work.

Art for Work’s Sake

I ran an Art for Work’s Sake workshop earlier this week. There were ten of us round the table at Workhubs, and after breakfast, we talked a little about art, why it is so helpful as an aid to better work, and why most of us have come to believe that we are not artists. I’ve spoken and written about some of this as part of We Are Better Together and we looked again at the Breakpoint and Beyond research about how rapidly awful we get at divergent thinking, plus this great piece about sketching and how helpful it is.

Conversation summary

Brene Brown – 85% of the 13,000 people interviewed for her research on shame and vulnerability ‘can recall a time in school that was so shaming it forever changed how they thought of themselves as learners. 50% of those recollections related to art and creativity.’

Breakpoint and Beyond. Up to 98% of very young children excel at divergent thinking, and we get progressively worse at it as we move through the education system and into work. By the time we are 25, only around 2% of people show the same ability to excel at this vital way of thinking.

When note taking and doodling, different colours are helpful for different ideas and themes – easy to pick stuff out afterwards.

Getting doodles and sketches down on paper frees up brain space and extends memory.

Sketching improves your ability to restructure ideas.

When you draw how you/your team are feeling – you will likely get different signals and results than if you just talk and write about it.

Sketching Exercise

We wanted to try our hand at sketching and with time at a premium, here’s what we did.


Choose some paper. I had brought four different types, photocopy paper, two grades of cartridge paper and water colour paper. Take a pencil, a rather lovely, brand new Staedtler B Grade in this instance (pencil nerd alert), and spend about a minute sketching something. Then review your sketch with your partner, spending a couple of minutes talking about each one. Remembering what we discussed earlier, we agreed to avoid asking judgmental questions, and instead – just explore our work together. After the conversation time, either redraw the sketch or refine it, for about a minute and a half. Discuss.

Here is a gallery of some of the work we produced.

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The coffee cup was drawn by Louise who previously told me, ‘I can’t draw’. After the session Louise tweeted, ‘It seems I can draw, despite 20+ years thinking I couldn’t’, before adding, ‘It only took 60 seconds to realise I can!’ Louise preferred cup 1 which took less time to draw than cup 2.

Phil drew the bottle, and after drawing bottle 1, he noticed the way the glass distorted shapes behind it, and modified his idea in bottle 2.

Paul drew Euston Station arch – from a photograph on the wall. Paul talked about how he could remember the station behind the arch but not the arch itself. He wanted a record of the arch so he could speak with other people about it later. Nick then told us that parts of the arch have been rediscovered, and later that day, Paul sent me this picture of what a rebuilt arch might took like. I’ve played with this exercise a few times and this is the first time I’ve seen someone do what Paul did. I really liked his creative interpretation of the exercise.

Bernie drew the salt cellar – and then added depth with shade.

Nick did something similar to Bernie with the patterned glass.

Ed captured the sphere shape in the basketball beautifully. What you see here is version 2 – version 1 got rubbed out because it wasn’t round enough. I really like the way I feel like I can reach out and grab the ball.


Louise’s post workshop tweets gave me a real lift, and then on Wednesday I received a lovely note from Paul about the workshop. Later on Wednesday evening I spotted Phil had tweeted this:

Phil's Tweet

Phil's Sketch

I like Phil’s idea – a sketch of what work looks like, and the groups and ideas you connect with. Sketching your way to better work, sketching your way to stronger connections. I’m grateful to everyone who came along to the session and participated so enthusiastically. And in the time we had together, I’m really pleased with what we covered and the different ways people embraced and interpreted the challenge, and have continued to do so. And if you missed out this time – keep a watchful eye out for further chances to take part.