Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Tell me what TO DO (and not what not to do).

A pre-supposition in the way our brains work is that it ignores negatives. Thus “don’t think of a green elephant” trick becomes an instruction. Consider also all the parents and teachers who scream ‘don’t run!’ at children – who then run around...
As a young teacher, a seasoned colleague of mine observed a lesson and gave me brilliant advice I still keep in mind to this day; show the kids what you want from them when demonstrating a practical task rather than say (and then demonstrate perfectly) all the things you don’t want them to do. It’s worked every time from demonstrating how to hold a coping saw, making a turn on a ski slope, changing a car tyre and yep – used guessed it, having creative sessions and facilitating conversations in business.
The same advice would go well in urban design.
At the weekend I strolled into town with my kids and passed the Jubilee Fountain. Interestingly enough one short sighted councillor opposed it being built as he thought vandals would urinate in it. Funny how we’ve managed to keep our legs crossed all this time...

The photo shows one of two nasty signs that have been banged into the park that immediately spoil the aesthetics. It says “This ornamental fountain is not designed for public access.  Visitors paddling in the water do so at their own risk”.  SINCE ITS INSTALLATION I have not passed this fountain without seeing children and adults paddling in the water. Signs that ask us NOT to do something are always ignored.
Instead of being all parent child in its communication, the sign could read... “Welcome to the Jubilee Fountain, young children may paddle here freely, have fun and take care”. As a result responsibility to look after ourselves (and urinate appropriately) is passed to us rather than taken away from us.
In our emails, phone calls and advice to others today and this week, be enabling.
you then don’t have to write or explain what you don’t want your staff to then not do*

*sentence to ignore J

Monday, 20 August 2012

There is no such thing as an emergency phone call.

There is no such thing as an emergency phone call

People’s reactions and loss of context is the most dangerous form of corporate rot. Leaving the room “for an emergency” is just rude. If your sponsor says “we cannot legislate for emergencies” it's giving permission for rudeness to happen.

What they're actually saying is the senior development of emerging talent and the back office design and delivery programmes around them (you and your team) and facilitators (like you) in the room, peers and colleagues isn’t and aren’t important and will always come second to the money.

Having people ‘take an emergency call’ and step outside destroys your businesses values instantly because the ‘commercial card’ becomes trump. If that's the single filter that trumps all decisions - dont have values.

When calls come in, participants have a brilliant opportunity to grow through making a choice.

Put another way – every time they leave the room to take an emergency call on cost saving, they've wasted all the L+D budget spent on them being in that room in an instant.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Don't give people case studies.

Was part of an agency conversation the other day that went something like this...

"...and then we'll give them [the client] loads of material from great places like Google and IKEA and then it'll inspire them to design properly worked out customer service."

no it won't.

Giving people stimulus in the case study fashion can be a bit of a red herring.

Making connections between what one company does and yours requires creative sensitivity. Without that, there will be no idea generation. Creative sensitivity should be ever present and worn at the weekend just as it is 9-5 at our desks.

It would show up when said client is shopping at IKEA on any given day. And whilst choosing a fish shaped purple desk lamp s/he has an epiphany (albeit now a regular thing) and get’s out a notepad (s/he carries at all times) as s/he thinks to herself “my God, this shopping day I am having is so out of this world I can see the tangible, physical and deliberate customer experience touch points IKEA has seamlessly interwoven into my morning and I can’t help but make notes on all this right now for my project at work.”

If our clients could do that, then they wouldn’t need us now would they! Because they don't think like that, it suggests that stimulus alone isn't enough.

A little part of me dies when I think of another mood board is stuck up in the room in the hope it’ll “inspire” some thinking.

Don’t give your clients downloads off the web of IKEA, Google and Apple (zzzzzzz) as we’ve never worked there.

Get your clients to do instead THEIR OWN case study and have other companies talk about them. Genius.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

GOLD MEDALISTS not for after dinner speaking...

This week was, for me, the best sport on tv ever. It was utterly brilliant and genius to watch the Athletes bring in so much gold.  Well done. I’m really proud to be British and gutted I didn’t get any tickets to watch it live.

A dark place...
I’ve also considered how the winners and the teams behind them will all be invited by corporate juggernauts and business behemoths to speak at company events and road shows to pass on their learning. Top executives will pay thousands of pounds each to sit at top tables with the Design Teams and Management Teams of winning Gold Medallists.
CEOs, FDs, Executive Board members will all name drop feverishly months and years from now on the night they had the privilege to hear and ‘learn’ how to get the best from the best.
And nothing of course will change.
That’s the difference between the two worlds and why they shouldn’t mix.
Quangos made up of lazy thinking members from HR, L+D and Internal Comms will think that global businesses culture, values and winning spirit could be solved in an after dinner speaking slot lasting an hour.
An OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST is the ONE PERSON ON PLANET EARTH who knows the true meaning of working hard to get performance right.

If I ever get the chance to listen to any member of the British Cycling Team, I promise to shut up and listen.
My advice would be to do the same.

Friday, 3 August 2012

visual thinking - beats powerpoints 90 years ago.

Here’s a colour study from Laszlo Moholy-Nagy.  He was a student come teacher at the Bahaus and let’s face it, the owner of quite a cool name.

If you forgive the quality ( I was taking the photo using my phone in the gallery where I wasn’t supposed to), you’ll notice colours in circles all sitting in a pencil grid.
It’s a genius piece of visual thinking and gives me an example of how you can solve problems in pictures.  Moholy-Nagy was working out the curriculum for the Bauhaus and what student groups went where, when, with whom and for how long.  Looking at the piece I noticed he had worked out a smart little 'carrousel' curriculum where all the students got their full exposure to the material, the teachers got variety, the workshops may have avoided bottle necking and everyone knew what was going on at any given moment.
I like this because:
  • It didn’t need a computer (spreadsheets and i-pads werent’ around in 1920).
  • It’s done by hand – suggesting the whole thing happened in one sitting; think of the time he had spare to show off his surname in the village. maybe he did it in th park, down the pub or likely at his desk BUT he didn't have to.
  • We’ve got the whole “I get it” bit all on a single page so other people can understand – something too often we miss at work when our colleagues send us ANOTHER powerpoint with ANOTHER page added at the end.

We’ve a saying here at ‘theBox’  A picture paints a thousand words and stimulates a thousand too.  If I were teaching at the Bauhaus, all I’d need from Laslo at term start would be this sheet and the freedom to get on and teach; precisely what my thousand words would be used for. Utter Genius.

Now, go spend the afternoon DRAWING your problem and see what happens as you then try and solve it.