Creating creative spaces – game changers and fun at work!

Susanne Clarke – Head of Service Excellence.

Creating spaces and environments which bring teams together to unleash creativity and allow game changing ideas to thrive is central to embedding excellence. There is a lot of science behind many approaches to creativity & innovation and the evidence is growing all the time. It can however, be a daunting experience to create these environments – which is why I am so delighted to collaborate with CEL.  Professor Debbie Holley as Head of CEL and I have been taking bookings to help design, facilitate and create these “pop-up” creative hives of team activity all over town.   I thought I would use this blog to share a few highlights from some rather untypical days in the life of the Head of CEL and Head of Service Excellence – and other fun makers across BU.

First off there is great Fusion in action – Debbie’s  academic research and evidence based approaches to using metaphor, imagery and fun to encourage creativity and my passion for learning from what works (Appreciative Inquiry), and practical experience of translating approaches used  both within and outside of the  HE sector, including Disney, Silicon Valley and other leaders in excellence closer to home through my involvement with various communities of practice.

And we don’t do this alone, we are inspired by leaders across BU who are looking to take their teams forward to achieve ever more great things aligned with our emerging vision for BU2025 and beyond.

So first off the toolkit – over the past two weeks we have seen teams create and develop ideas using the metaphor of a train journey – no technology involved but our trains were 3D! This structured activity towards our BU2025 goals used metaphor as well as “gamestorming” approaches and without PowerPoint or a Post-it Note in sight. The “connections” made within teams was a real highlight for me – it was a high energy and results driven day – not to be forgotten. I feel we need give a special mention to the conference team at AFCB who helped make this “pop-up” creative zone such a great experience – service excellence in action at AFCB!

Other tools in our kit include making use of our fantastic location – walking meetings to share knowledge and blow out the cobwebs to make way for new ways of thinking based on object mediated dialogue and collective learning.

The new and old favourites are in the tool-kit too – lego kits are put to good use across BU and of course plate spinning – a perfect example of the power of positive thinking and a great analogy for a normal day at work, Dr Lois Farquharson is my co-fun maker for  all things Disney, Positive Thinking and is now circus ready with plate spinning.

Innovative ways of using models such as the Business Model Canvas – the “Jazz Micro Cow” pitch was a highlight for me yesterday. Our adapted Canvas is a great way to explore our understanding of how organisations work. The forces of nature – Keith Pretty and Rachel Clarke were co-leads for this activity. We  also hunted down “Pink Elephants” and explored new thinking around building networks and relationships.

Many ideas have been adapted from Service Excellence and CEL  Conference  events. The Blue and Red hats, SUMO Thinking and Kindness have all been approached in unique ways – Graffiti Jam and World Café and more ideas are being generated as I type by creative folk we meet along the way.

Talk to us to share ideas – Debbie and I would love to have help to write up our experiences and create a toolkit to be used widely. We also know that many of these ideas are now being used in teaching – fusion!  And of course we would be delighted to support you in your journey to excellence.


The Micro Jazz Cow Pitch

Journey to excellence

For real time updates follow us on twitter @DebbieHolley1 and @SclarkeSusanne @LoisFarqharson


#BUFUN  #BUicingonthecake 

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