Thursday, 28 October 2010

HR Innovation on Jon Ingham's Blog

A nice piece on Jon Ingham's excellent blog on the Roffey Park HR and Innovation Conference. Thanks Jon!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Are you sitting comfortably? How Leaders Use Storytelling to Drive Business Success

The book - a - let, as I am calling it, is ready. Who wants a copy?

Email me at

Social Media Training

As if I am not Twitter enough I have signed up for a day of Social Media Training - I really want to help companies make more of Social Media. c4sevendays re-tweeting me madly!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Zappos All Hands Meeting

I am a huge fan of Zappos and hope to visit them shortly to find out all about their culture and customer service ethic for myself, first hand.

In the meantime, I have signed up for the Zappos All Hands Meeting Live Webcast

If you want to know how to drive a service business thought culture, why not sign up now?

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Golden Tweets

I am trying to win a Golden Tweet Award - please click the link and vote for The Innovation Beehive!

Buzz Buzz Buzz

Only two days to go

Final preparations are under way for our Innovation and HR event with Roffey Park on Friday. Last minute slides, speaker briefings and delegate handouts. Can't wait

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Learning Social Media and Learning from Bees

I had a great training session last night at The Museum of Brands ( all about how to use Social Media. It was run by Educated Change ( Check out their website for a nice piece on how Bees are coping with change and a little video from Davos on the process of idea generation

Monday, 4 October 2010

Chapter Six - The Future of Storytelling

Chapter Six

The Future of Storytelling

“The history book on the shelf, is always repeating itself”

Waterloo, ABBA

Who would have imagined, five years ago, that we would all become Storytellers? For I believe that is what we now all are.

The worldwide success of Facebook has turned us all into Storytellers – relating the tales of our lives is cyberspace for all who care to read.

And the phenomenal growth of Twitter means we can relate a tale to our followers instantly in 140 characters or less.

One thing is for sure, throughout the centuries, stories on cave walls have taught us to fish and hunt, in the Bible they have given us the promise of eternal life and from our parents they have taught us how to grow up to be productive members of society. Brands have got in on the act, with everyone from Maxwell House in the 80’s to British Telecom and the on-going soap opera that is Adam and Jane.

IDEO recently suggested that, as we progress further into the digital age, the publication of books will be very different. They will appear increasingly on line, giving the user the ability to add comments and build the story.

Channel Four’s show ‘Seven Days’ has broken new ground in Reality TV. It charts the lives of twelve of Notting Hill’s most interesting characters over their last week and the choices they make – the story they tell – is influenced by the viewer via Twitter and the specially develop ChatNav programme. Comments are relayed on-line in real time and the show’s characters get to interact and respond with the viewer. And change their individual storyline in response to viewer feedback.

The age of collaboration is upon us.

I believe that the role of the Storyteller will change. Their role will be one of a Catalyst and Provocateur – to start the debate rather than deliver a complete narrative. Through the use of technology, the receiver will no longer be passive, but will become actively involved in shaping the story, in making it relevant in their personal setting and ensuring that the story continues to be told in many different formats to many different people many miles removed from the original source.

Innovation and HR Conference

Just to remind you that the fantastic HR and Innovation event Masterclass takes place on Oct 15th in Roffey Park.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Chapter Five - a business book in seven Days

Chapter Five

Telling Stories to create a Culture

“Culture isn’t just one aspect of the game – it is the game
Lou Gerstner

When we dream alone it’s just a dream, but when we dream together it’s the beginning of a new reality”
Brazilian proverb

Ever since our ancestors sat around fires in caves, human beings have felt the need to be part of something. Remember your group of mates at school? Remember the sense of security you had, mixing with kids who had the same interests as you?

Well, organisations are a bit like groups of mates or tribes of Neanderthal man around a campfire – only with suits and laptops. The same fundamental thread runs thought all these groups – a need to form itself in a collective group, with a shared sense of identity; and that identity is consolidated and developed through its C ulture.

Much as been written about what culture is and I am not going to try and re-define it here . The best definition of culture I have read is from Honey and Mumford who describe is quite simply as “the way things get done around here”. It is the living incarnation of all the organisation’s policies and procedures, the way its people interact with each other and their customers, and how it demonstrates it Values.

And successful organisations use Storytelling to give their culture rocket fuel.

The Disney Corporation is the master of Storytelling. When I went to study at The Disney Institute in Florida, my trainer, Gwen Burch, told me a story:

“ I have an eight year old niece called Olivia and she thinks I am really cool because I work with Cinderella. Can you imagine how much kudos she gets in the schoolyard by telling her friends that I hang out with her?

I decided that I was going to give Olivia a special gift for her birthday. I would take her to Walt Disney World and introduce her to her idol, and my co-worker, Cinderella.

So she came down tot the property and we had a wonderful day playing on all the attractions. But the best was yet to come.

I had found out where Cinderella was going to be at 4.30 and at 4.25 we were to be found casually strolling up Main Street on our way to the rendezvous.

Suddenly, Olivia’s little hand had slipped out of mine and she was racing up Main Street. She had spotted the fairytale Princess!

And off in the distance, with her back to us, I could see a figure in a beautiful blue ball gown, with long flowing hair.

Olivia rushed up to Cinderella and tugged on her gown shouting ‘Cinderella, Cinderella, it’s me – Olivia’

Cinderella turned around.

In one hand she held a cigarette. In the other a cup of Starbucks coffee.

‘OK kid. I see you. I’m on a break. Give me five minutes and I’ll be back’

Olivia crumpled and began to cry”

I can imagine what you are thinking now. When I heard this story I was truly shocked and remembered the heroes and heroines of my childhood. How awful would it have been to be disillusioned like that? And shame on Disney for allowing it.

Well, we can all calm down.

It isn’t true.

Gwen was using a story to illustrate a very important Disney policy – “Always stay in character’.

When you go to induction at a new job, you hear hundreds of rule and regulations. You many even be given a handbook of do’s and don’ts. Disney recognises this and brings their policies to life through Storytelling.

With the potential to mentally scar 8 year old visitors from all over the world, through Storytelling, Disney has created a magical culture where ‘cast members” go “on stage”. They know they are playing a part and they know what is expected of them. It is a culture of “magic” and each employee has a crucial part to play in it.

Another attribute of the Disney culture is great Teamwork- they call it “All in this Together”.

Another story illustrates how, if all employees come together, they can achieve great things. And all employees means, in times of need, whatever your status is in the organisation, you are expected to pull together.

To keep delighting their customers and keep one step ahead of the competition, Disney is constantly opening new attractions and new guest accommodation. These openings are well-oiled machines, but sometimes things can go wrong.

Gwen told us that a new guest accomodation was about to open, but due to supplier complications, the day before arrived and things just weren’t ready.

Every spare person was drafted on site; to make up beds, hang pictures and wash floors. But there was one big job left to do – to lay the lawn at the front of the hotel.

A whole team of Disney employees, many of whom should have left for home hours ago, were taking pre-grown tuft off delivery trucks and laying it out at the front of the hotel.

And then there came a visit from Management.

One particular Senior Manager worked in the Marketing function and began questioning the busy cast members about time plans and asking how they got in this awful mess.

He went up to one employee and began his conversation, but the employee was busy laying turf and knew he only had about two hours left to get it all done.

After politely trying to answer the Marketing Manager’s questions, he continued to lay turf. And the Marketing Manager continued to ask questions.

‘You know” said the temporary turf layer “you could help us out here and work with me to lay the lawn”

To which the Senior Manager replied, “I’m sorry I can’t help you. I work in Marketing and have no experience of turf laying”

That was enough for the junior member of staff. He took a piece of turf off a lorry, threw it to the floor and stamped it into place with his foot

“Green side up. Now get on with it”

I don’t know if this story it true, or if Gwen was again using a tale for illustrative purposes, but they more the tale is told the more it confirms the Disney culture of Teamwork. That they are all in it together and, only by coming together in times of need, regardless of status or job role, will they continue to create magic for the children of the world.

I have also been fortunate enough to spend time studying the Ritz Carlton Hotel Group. Their Vision is “Ladies and Gentlemen, Serving Ladies and Gentlemen”. This makes it stand out in the world of hospitality as it puts respect for the individual at the core of its business. It also places the customer at the heart of what they do.

Every day, before every shift, The Ritz Carlton has “The Daily Line Up”. This happens in all departments, all over the world, regardless if you work in housekeeping or human resources. A different member of the team runs it each day and hierarchy has no place to play in who chairs the meeting. And Storytelling is at the heart of the Line Up.

Each day, team members tell real stories of customer service experience and there then follows a group discussion on how it relates to one of their service principles. Each day, a service principle is re-enforced and brought to life by the telling of tales.

And the service experience at The Ritz Carlton is outstanding. This is in part due to the fact that the Ladies and Gentlemen are empowered to spend up to $2000, without management permission, to put something right for a guest.

Sometimes the stories are big and emotional – how the quick thinking of a staff member saved someone’s wedding day; and sometimes they are small gestures, but equally as impactful.

On one visit, I heard a story that has stuck with me for years.

We’ve all seen the little pieces of chocolate, left on the guest’s pillow at night. One housekeeper noticed that the guest in the room she was servicing, was throwing the chocolates in the waste paper basket. Also contained in the waste paper basket were Snickers wrappers. It wasn’t that the guest didn’t eat chocolate – she just didn’t like the ones being placed on her pillow.

So, knowing that delighting guests was at the heart of The Ritz Carlton’s culture, and armed with her $2000, the housekeeper went out to Seven Eleven and bought a bag on mini Snickers. Each night, she would place a mini Snicker on the guest’s pillow, and every morning there would be a wrapper in the bin.

Yes, it’s a small thing and probably only cost a few dollars, but can you imagine the impact on the guest? No manual or policy book is going to tell you substitute one chocolate for another, but through Storytelling at The Daily Line Up and the empowerment of the $2000, the housekeeper created a tailor made experience for the guest, that encouraged huge loyalty to Ritz Carlton. And I bet they got a load of free advertising as the guest probably told everyone she knew about the Snicker bar on the pillow.

If Culture is the way an organisation works, then it can be encouraged, enforced and enabled by Storytelling. By bringing polices and work practices to life, you can create an engaged community of employees, who are able to think for themselves and delight their customers.

So my advice to you is when you have your next meeting, instead of talking about policy, ask yourself – what story will I tell?

Thursday, 30 September 2010

A business book in Seven Days - Chapter Four

Please let me know your thoughts on Chapter Four!


Chapter Four

Storytelling to Create a Vision

Alice went on ‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go?’
That depends a good deal on where you want to get to, said the Cat
‘I don’t much care where’ said Alice
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat

Alice In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

“When there is no Vision, people perish”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

A few years ago I had the opportunity to take a group of CEO’s on a tour of the Eden Project in Cornwall. We weren’t looking for ways to save the world or the next big sustainable thing in business. We were looking for Leadership. And we found it in spades.

When you first meet Tim Smit, the charismatic founder of the Eden Project, you are immediately stuck by his immense energy and charisma. Even if you didn’t know he was once a successful record producer, re-discovered The Lost Gardens of Heligan and then went on to create what many consider to be the eight wonder of the world, you can’t help but be intrigued and impressed by him.

He is a big man. And he talks at a rapid pace, about great big important things, with humour, determination and flair.

As he led the group of Execs on a tour of The Eden Project he explained the seemingly insurmountable problems he, and his team, had to overcome to get it open. And that’s when he began to talk about Storytelling.

He explained that all his life he has employed “the Tinkerbell theory”. I can’t remember his exact words, so forgive the fact I am quoting from his book :

“In Peter Pan, Tinkerbell is a fairy who exists only if people believe in her. I know that if enough people can be made to believe in something it will happen”

With a, sometimes, fractured – and often unpaid team - he created a shared Vision of what Eden could be – it’s potential contribution to the local community, to education and to the planet. They in turn used this shared Vision and the passion it generated to persuade council planners, environmentalists, hard-nosed media types and the people of Cornwall that Eden simply had to be built.

Tim admits, that occasionally he has had to stretch the truth to get through a sticky situation, but in his inimitable style he calls this “the telling of future truths”. It may not be true today but if enough people believe in it, it will be true tomorrow.

The first lesson for my group of CEO’s, that wet day in Cornwall, was:

If you want to build a successful business you need to get people to believe in that which is not yet real.

Tim is not alone in using stories and “future truths” to drive change.

Martin Luther King’s famous speech ‘I have a Dream’ was delivered to 250,000 civil rights campaigners, at the end of the ‘March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom’ in August 1963. This speech is often cited as the catalyst for the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Dr King started by setting a context:

“Five years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves, who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.”

He went on to bring state the current situation, though repetition and dramatic imagery:

“But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land”

He continued with the, now famous, Vision for American society:

“ I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

This is our hope”

His Vision and call to action crossed generations, class, creed and colour to break down the barriers of segregation and deliver emancipation to the Black people of America.

Now to bring us right up to date in the Digital Age.

Who amongst us has not used Google? From a garage at Stanford, the co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, have built a by-word for the Internet Generation. There is even a verb “to google” in the OED.

Much has been written about Google’s fantastic culture, the rigorous hiring methods, and the company’s Values. But when I have been fortunate enough to visit their ‘campus’ both in the USA and Europe, what stuck me the most is their Vision.

Google’s Vision is

“to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”

This is as audacious as it is awe inspiring.

Some of the very best minds in the world go to work everyday, knowing that this is what they are being paid to do. The very audacious nature of the Vision forces them to think more and more creatively for ways to achieve it. This has resulted in break through technology that was unimaginable a few years ago.

Google’s Vision is tri-fold

1) Organise - though Cloud technology

2) Universally accessible – though ubiquitous connectivity we can access our data in the Nevarda desert on a mobile phone

3) Useful – connecting data and information and offering solutions to the user with innovations like Google Maps and Fastflip

But there is a danger that a Vision so large could be daunting and, rather than inspire the Googlers, it could defeat them.

In order to achieve their strategy, they have developed a clear framework:

1) Create a climate of innovation
2) Focus on the User
3) Create Partnerships
4) Be global, but truly local
5) Create value and be competitive

The “future truth” is set out and the path in clear. And with a consciously created climate of innovation, they are proving that, almost, anything is possible.

So I want you to ask yourself the following questions.

1) Why did you get out of bed and go to work today?

2) How did that ‘duvet chuck’ moment feel?

3) What story will you tell when you get home tonight?

And more importantly…

3) What story would you like to tell?

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

A business book in seven days - Chapter Three

Please let me know your thoughts - any builds will be accredited in the book!

Chapter Three – Telling Stories about the Individual. The CEO as Chief Storyteller.

“Screw it, let’s do it”

Richard Branson

One of the fundamental truths of all stories is that there is a main protagonist. Someone has to go through a series of events in an engaging enough manner that the reader or listener wants to find out what happens next.

I am going to ask you to take a leap of faith and think of organisations as stories writ large and see the CEO as the main protagonist. I believe that the role of the CEO has become that of Chief Storyteller – to the organisation, to the customer and to the investors.

He or she is the one who stands up at the annual conference and reviews the year for the employees, he is featured on the news in good times and in bad, and it is their behaviour and choice of words that reveals the core values of the brand and organisation.

To understand how critical CEO behaviour is in consciously or unconsciously telling stories take what happened to Tony Hayward, CEO of BP, who was photographed sailing around The Isle of Wight when millions of gallons of oil were seeping across the Gulf Coast. He found himself demonised in the world press and severely reprimanded by the White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel.

A father taking a day off from a dreadful workload to spend time with his son and re-charge his batteries? Or an overpaid, uncaring and incompetent Chief Executive who showed little care for countless fishermen whose livelihood’s were in danger due to the biggest environmental disaster in decades?

You will have your own personal opinion on this (and it will have been shaped by the stories you tell yourself about big corporations and their Senior Managers); but we all know how the world press took it. And we all know that Tony Hayward is leaving for Japan.

My Mother always says “Actions speak louder than words” and in Tony’s case it shouted from the front pages of the newspapers.

With the growth of the Internet, twenty-four hour news stations, the phenomenal success of reality TV we have become a personality and celebrity obsessed culture. This can have its upside – Lauren Luke was trying to sell make-up on U-Tube from the home she shared with her mum and daughter. It got picked up and ‘went viral’, with thousands and thousands of ‘hits’. The result is a once penniless single mum now has a global cosmetics brand, a weekly column in The Guardian and is the author of her first book. On the other hand, our obsession with celebrity has also given us Jedward.

It is a stretch to claim that CEO’s are the new celebrities, but as we become more and more obsessed about the face behind the mask, they are under increasing scrutiny and need to tell ever increasingly effective stories.

There is increasingly a cult of celebrity developing around the CEO - and if they use it in the right way, it can be dynamite.

Take Steve Jobs. Every year he holds his summit at Apple HQ to launch new products to employees and the world’s press. Everything he says and does is crafted to a tee to tell a story. His dress code is always the same – black polo and jeans. His clothes are simple and uncomplicated and the subtle message he is sending out is “I am picking something comfortable, that won’t distract me, so I can focus on the real task ahead of me”. It’s much easier to be creative if you don’t have to waste energy focusing on the trivial things.

In this book “Inside Steve’s Brain” Leander Kahney says “Jobs has turned his personality traits into a business philosophy”. He tells us that Jobs wants to create “products so good you want to lick them”, that “I’m not afraid to start from the beginning” and that “softwear is the user experience”

What Jobs is doing in stating these beliefs (or telling these stories) is creating a mantra inside Apple that guides the work of everyone from retail staff to App developers.

But beware too much the cult of personality. When Jobs announced that he had pancreatic cancer, the share price took a nosedive. He had made Apple so much about him, that the investor community did not believe it could continue if he chose to step down. Happily for Jobs he is a well man today, but if you ever get a challenge from one of your line managers about “another pointless succession planning meeting’, just remind him or her just tell the cautionary tale of what happened to Apple’s share price when there appeared to be no immediate successor to Jobs. They will beat you in a mad dash to the conference room to start drawing organisational charts.

Another ‘celeb’ in the business world is Sir Richard Branson. Love him or hate him, that man has dominated the business world since the first Virgin record store opened in Oxford Street in 1971.

We have seen this Knight of the Realm dressed up as a bride, get gunked on national TV, fly up (and come down) in attempts to circumnavigate the world by balloon, take on the might of British Airways and Coca Cola and now, for $200,000 he is offering you the chance to go to space with Virgin Galactic.

There are many commentators who have applaud Branson for his knack of getting free publicity and, most of the time, he must be his Marketing Director’s dream; but by putting his own personality at the forefront of everything the Virgin group of companies do, he is telling a very well thought out story.

In his biography “Screw it, Let’s Do It” Branson tells us:

“My interest in life comes from setting myself huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise about them…. from the perspective of wanting to live life to the full, I felt that I had to achieve that”

But the fact that he does this in public and links it so strongly to his brands, Branson is telling a story to staff, customers and investors. He is saying that Virgin will keep on achieving, that Virgin will keep on doing what everyone else says is impossible and it will keep on being mavericks who buck the system and show up the competition. He shows that Virgin is fearless, takes risks and is an exciting brand to connect with.

As we have become more and more focused on personality, the CEO has become the Chief Storyteller. Do this well and it can reap great rewards, but tell the wrong story and the results can be disastrous.

A film called “The Social Network” charting the history of Facebook comes out at the end of October 2010. It is reputed to be rather unflattering about Mark Zuckerberg.
Mr. Zuckerberg has just announced that he is to donate $100,000 to Newark schools. Is he getting his side of the story in first?

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Writing a book in Seven Days - Chapter Two

Chapter Two

Principles of Storytelling

“Analysis might excite the mind, but it hardly offers a route to the heart. And that is where we must go if we are to motivate people not only to take action but to do so with energy and enthusiasm”

Stephen Denning

We have all picked up a book and given up on it halfway through. Or been told a story and had to repress a yawn.

Have you been at a conference and heard a bunch of Senior Manager’s getting excited about the company direction yet all it has done is left you flat and bored?

I have.

So what is it about some stories that keep you engaged and some that turn you right off?

If I am to really understand how some businesses use storytelling so effectively, I have to find the answer to this conundrum first.

So being from an HR background, I started to look at learning theory for inspiration. Yes. Really.

There is the school of thought that goes like this; not all people learn in the same way and to communicate knowledge the teacher has to take different learning styles into account.

Anyone who has picked up a training book from the CIPD will have read about all the different theories on how learners learn. But in truth, try as I might, when I pulled my old course notes out of the filing box, I just didn’t get all that excited by the Sunbury model of democratic education or David Kolb’s experiential learning framework.

Then an email popped into my inbox. From Innocent Drinks. It intrigued me and I went on the website and had a look at their blog. And a wonder it was to behold.

Full of anecdotes, pictures, jokes, videos, recipes and product information, it was amazingly engaging. I especially liked the bit about The Big Knit – where they get their customers to knit hats for their bottles and 50p from each hatted drink sold goes to keep old people warm (101,246 hats knitted so far!).

Have a look for yourself at

But what is it about the stories that they tell that make them so compelling – why did I want to keep pressing hyperlink after hyperlink and have found myself writing about it now?

After many hours of happy surfing I have found some key principles that they employ and that you can apply to any story you tell.

They are passionate about what they are talking about – fruit to them is the most exciting thing in the world.

It has a great tone of voice – there is a real Innocent style – quirky, friendly, and personal

It has a context – whether it’s about “what Alex did this week” or World Peace Day, there is a reason they are telling their story. To call readers to action – to make a difference – to make us more healthy (oh, and to sell smoothies)

It is collaborative – the stories are full of anecdotes from, and about, their staff and customers. There is a chance to join in and have some fun along the way.

So that is how Innocent Drinks make their stories so engaging.

Then I remembered my English Degree at Goldsmiths’ College. I, rather pretentiously, had chosen a Classics Module (I say pretentiously as this was also accompanied by Anglo Saxon English Translation and the poems of Milton – I could have decided to study Modern American Literature).

Were the hours spent pouring over Plato and Homer going to finally prove useful in life? Well, the answer is Yes.

I remembered that the fundamental principles of storytelling are contained in Aristotle’s Poetics.

For those of you who haven’t read it – hands up – here is a quick summary.

Aristotle says that every story must have a beginning, middle and an end. It must have characters and a main protagonist. There must be a unified plot, with spectacle and surprise. And finally there must be a reversal of fortune or a discovery, with a lesson learnt

He says

“ A good plot progresses like a knot that is tied up with increasingly greater complexity until the reversal of fortune, at which point the knot is untied until it reaches an unknotted conclusion”

Now that is a lot of knots!

So next time you are writing a speech or creating a power point presentation, have a think about Aristotle and Innocent.

Are you demonstrating your passion for this subject?

Does your story have a beginning, middle and an end?

Is your story coherent?

Is there a lesson to be learned?

Are you involving your audience?

Is there a call to action?

There you have it. Storytelling from the old and the new Masters.

Apply those principles to a speech or presentation and you will have them begging for more in aisles.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Trying to write in 7 days - Storytelling in Business

I am co-hosting a conference on Innovation and HR at Roffey Park on October 15th ( but time is running away with me. I have a speech to deliver that day, and a workshop to run. And I also wanted to produce a white paper on something I have been meaning to write about for years - Story Telling in Business.

But time is running out - so I have set myself a challenge. To write a short chapter a day (max 1000 words) and publish it here for you to see and comment on. Please support me in this - add any comments or criticism. Let's collaborate to tell the story together!

Here goes....installment one:

Are you sitting comfortably?

How the world’s most innovative companies are using storytelling to drive business success

"What really counts is that I’m Irish and I know how to tell stories”
Jack Welsh


Introduction – my father, the storyteller

Stories about the Individual

Stories to create a Vision

Stories to create a Culture

Storytelling to your Customers

The future of Storytelling


When I was a child I used to get really excited around bedtime. I am aware that this is unusual behaviour as most children try to find every excuse in the book to stay up late with the adults.

It wasn’t that I had a particular penchant for sleep or the best bedroom in North London. What excited me was what happened just before the lights went out.

My father, an immigrant from Ireland, and like many from his homeland, is a master storyteller. Every night, before lights out, he would sit at the end of my bed and tell me a story. He didn’t read me a story. He would make one up on this spot – with either my brother or I as the lead character. It was a tale personal to us.

And as I heard magical tales of Glinda the Wicked Witch of Wales or Detective Michael Patrick O’Keeffe, he taught me lessons about life that have stayed with me forever.

In the fight between the good witches and the bad witches, I learnt the importance of morality. In the one about my brother and I solving great crimes, I learnt that hard work and diligence pays off. And in the one he told me one Christmas, about there being no Santa Clause, taught me that sometimes we have to be disappointed in life to learn lessons that help us to grow.

As I grew up and moved into the world of business both in London and New York I ran conferences, wrote internal communications, crafted CEO speeches, developed new products and pulled together marketing campaigns I realised that I was telling stories – just like the ones my father used to tell me all those years ago.

And as I look around the business world, I see that successful leaders, organisations and brands are all using stories to inspire their people, engage their customers or, sometimes, make a real difference in the world.

This pamphlet is an attempt to share with you some of the great examples of storytelling I have seen and to inspire you to throw away some of your policy manuals and bring them to life – through the power of stories.

From the early cave man drawing on walls, through the Greek Myths and right up to Reality TV, the human condition and its development is bound up with stories.

What a powerful organisation you could have if you harnessed a bit of that.

Busy Bee drinking tea

We are really pleased to have just signed up a new project for Twinings Tea. It's a great piece of work building the Marketing Capability for the Global Marketing Team - working on insights and agency briefing.

The event is in January so we will be busy bees till then!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Collaborative Innovation

Yesterday we went to London Fashion Week to see the Todd Lynn Show. We have been working through LAB - brand and culture innovation company ( for Ecco Leather over the last year, and it was really exciting to see the project come together on the catwalk

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Innovation and HR

We are really excited to be partnering with Roffey Park to run a one day conference on how HR can drive Innovation. Check it out:

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Looking for innovation in all the right places

A great piece from today's FT which argues that to really innovate organizations shoukd look outside of marketing to other functions such as Customer Services to really understand consumer needs. Nice bit on Apple's use of external partners too

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Some thoughts on making innovation live and breath

Pick up any Management magazine today, or look at the events on the conference circuit and you will see a plethora of articles about “Innovation”. It is the latest mantra and, in this tough economic climate, Management Teams are looking to it as the way to differentiate their product or service. They read about Apple, Google and Tesco and look to these organisations for inspiration and whilst lessons can be learnt from successful organisations, it would be a mistake to simply lift what works at Apple and put it into a bank.

The Innovation Beehive works on the principle of stimulus – look at successful organisations, unpick the principles of why they are successful and then apply those principles to your business.

There isn’t the space here to write about all the building blocks that go into creating an Innovative organisation, but I want to share a couple of key learnings. And if you want to know more, then give us a buzz.

All the organisations we have visited have one thing in common – as well as making lots of money (!), they have clearly defined and communicated a “Higher Purpose”. We call this freedom in a gilded cage” – an articulation of their reason for existing that is more that about profit and a clear communication to staff of what is and isn’t on brand.

One company that constantly innovates is Ikea.. They exist:

“To Create a Better Everyday Life for the Many People”

This is far more inspiring than, “we exist to sell inexpensive furniture”. It’s a real duvet chuck statement – a reason to get out of bed and go to work on a Monday morning. If we unpick it further, it creates a unique organisational lexicon – “the many people” is uniquely Ikea – it sounds just sounds like Ikea. Additionally, this Higher Purpose can be translated into an employee, customer and product proposition – whilst building the gilded cage, they have created a Vision that works for all parts of their business.

Ask yourself – do I have a Vision that inspires my people? Is it about more than money? Are we doing well and doing good?

Following on from the Higher Purpose, Innovative organisations are clear on where their Innovation is going to come from.

The Ritz Carlton believes that the best innovation happens at a local level; when it responds directly to guest’s needs. They empower their staff with $3000 to make things right for the customer, without the need for management approval. Staff are constantly looking for ways to improve the guest’s experience, whether it is fixing something that has gone wrong, or delighting them with unexpected surprises. We heard about a chambermaid who noticed that the guest was putting the nightly pillow chocolate in the bin, along with several Snicker wrappers. She realized that the guest loved chocolate – just not the one supplied by the hotel. So the chambermaid went out to the local Seven Eleven and bought a mini pack of Snickers and, every night, placed one on the guest’s pillow. A tiny service Innovation, but a great wow for the guest.

Proctor and Gamble have developed a whole innovation system – they call it Connect + Develop. In 2000 they set themselves the goal to source 50% of innovations externally. They had 9000 in-house R&D experts, but believed this strategy would give them access to over 2 million scientists worldwide. Today, this ‘open source’ innovation programme has resulted in some of their most successful products including Swiffer Wetjet and Crest White Strips. They publish their big opportunity areas annually and anyone can submit an idea though the Connect + Develop website. Alongside this they have worldwide ‘scouts’ that search out the latest thinking in service, technology and product devices from university labs, small businesses and venture capitalists.

Ask yourself – do I have a structure in place to drive Innovation? Does all my Innovation come from the centre? What ideas lie outside my organisation or with my employees?

All the innovative companies we have visited have a real buzz about them – a real energy. In part their physical environment drives this. Environment can either drain you or provide you with energy. And energy is the key to innovation (and employee engagement). The best examples of organisations that drive Innovation is where they provide places for creative activity, places that stimulate, spaces for reflection, spaces for collaboration and spaces to play. All these spaces live and breath the Brand – whether it is Innocent’s grass filled offices, P&G’s dedicated off-site Innovation Centre called The Clay Street Project or Virgin’s Headquarters, where bold graphics communicate the company philosophy (“Screw it, Let’s Do it”) and an informal meeting room called “The Love Room” create a sense of play, brand values and creative spirit.

Ask yourself – what does our physical environment say to our staff? How is it influencing behaviours? Does it drive the behaviours we need to win in business?

Innovation is a system. I have described three elements of that system above. To really live and breath innovation you will need to look at many other components – Leadership, Communication, Recruitment, Reward and Recognition, Skills and Customer Closeness.

But if you start with the three above, you will begin a journey that is exciting, financially rewarding and will give you a real duvet check on Monday morning

For more on this check out “I wish I worked there! - A look inside the most creative spaces in business” by Kursty Groves

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Lessons from Number 10

So the love in has well and truly started at Number 10, and the whole of the UK waits to see what the 'partnership' between Dave and Nick will bring.

We started to kick around some thoughts about what we can learn from these, once sworn enemies, who used to describe each other as "a favourite joke".

In August last year, in thinking about how businesses might cope with the recession, we advocated getting into bed with the competition, with no idea it would happen in the UK Parliament; so here, in slightly light hearted spirits, here are our key thoughts:

1) Listen to your customer - the UK voter sent a message to the politicians. We don't really trust one of you individually to govern on your own. The Lib Dems rejected the entreaties of Labour's unelected Mandelson and Campbell to join them and went with the party that the 'consumer' had given the most votes to
2)Embrace change - we heard so much about time for change through out the campaign. The test came with a hung parliament and, judging by the smiles from the Prime Minister and his Deputy in the Rose Garden, they are grabbing it with both hands
3)Have pace and energy - it was pretty tortuous watching the negotiating parties go back and forth across College Green last week and the already fed up electorate were becoming increasing frustrated. We had hoped for a Govt to be formed in three days - it took nearly a week
4)Give ground - there is a significant amount of each party in Senior roles and the announcements this week around income and inheritance tax imply that they are actively listening to what is important to the other party
5)Don't speak too soon - Nick Clegg's promise to introduce the most significant parliamentary reform for 200 years may sound sexy now, but let's see how it is judged in five years time

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

New Address

Change of address going out soon, but from 27th May, we will be at:

Unit One
The Ink Building
Notthing Hill
W10 5DR

Friday, 14 May 2010

Central St Martins Innovation Event

We are really proud to be on the panel for Central St Martins first Innovation conference

Speeches are us

Had a great time this morning at the Freshtracks event in Borough where I gave a speech on idea generation and conferences. Thanks to those were there for your feedback

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Vision Spring - a sight for sore eyes

We were really excited to see our client Vision Spring on CBS the other night. They provide eye tests and reading glasses in India, via microfinancing - we helped them define their Vision

"To Provide The Vision for a Dignified Future"

For more information and to see Innovation in action, making a difference to people's lives, go to the CBS link

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Open Source Innovation in Action - Wild Peeta, IDEO and Insights from Ideas Arabia

I have had a great time at Ideas Arabia here in Dubai, where I was a keynote speaker, opening the conference.

One presentation I was really impressed with was from the guys at Wild Peeta - two brothers, who spent a good deal of time in FMCG in USA and had a nine year dream realised when they opened a shawmana (pitta sandwich) restaurant in Dubai.

The really interesting thing is that they have used social networking sites and open source innovation to build the business, and have 6000 followers on Twitter. Examples of co-creation range from customers telling them what sandwich to make, what sauce to offer and to move from take away and delivery, to a dine-in offering too.

They are all about being local - local food and local talent. The restaurant was designed by students, based on the principles contained in the IDEO method cards, and is a great example of how creative brainstorming and real consumer insight can be impactful.

The Wild Peeta mantra is:

We are and always will be “Proud to be an Emirati enterprise”.
The customer is always right. They are the reason we exist.
When others say they can’t; Wild Peeta says they can.
At Wild Peeta, quality is not a word; it’s a way of life.
Wild Peeta sets the standards, and then raises them.
There are no shortcuts. The Wild Peeta way demands a solid foundation ahead of growth.
Wild Peeta will always do the right thing. It’s our banner, and we wear it proudly.

If you get to Dubai, please do check them out. Our dinner last night was lovely!

and have a look at the fantastic IDEO method cards

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Ideas Arabia

We are very excited that MOK will be appearing at Ideas Arabia this week in Dubai as Key Note Speaker at the conference. The event is hosted by His Highness Sheidk Ahamed bin Saeed Al Maktoum and MOK will be talking about the link between Innovation and Employee Engagement.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Bring your child to work day 22nd April 2010

So we are thinking about what our little darlings could possibly offer us in the way of new ways of working and thinking on Thursday - Bring Your Child to Work Day.

When The Innovation Beehive works with clients, we impress upon them the importance of playfulness in Innovation. A new way of thinking about the world or a product or even a people process can never be achieved by behaving in the same way we have always behaved. When we were children we continually experimented - to kids, every day is a new adventure, every experience gives them a new insight about the world. They learn as they go.

But something puts an end to this innocent exploring - adults. They teach us the rules of life and children are taught that some things just can't be done. We are taught the big impossible.

This is the mindset that The Innovation Beehive tries to break - to have really successful Innovation you must have a child like view of what is possible ; limiting beliefs never fueled a Fortune 500.

So, when you take your child to work this week - sit them down and explain your biggest work challenge. You might just learn something.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Zappos does it again

We just love the new advertising campaign from Zappos - it has taken real customer phone calls and "acted them out" with puppets. Hard to explain, but worth a look.

and if you want to see how they got all the staff excited about the new campaign, check out the employee launch party

and if you haven't yet checked out this amazing company, "powered by service", have a look at

Monday, 15 March 2010

Management Wonderland

Tonight I went to see Alice In Wonderland, the new Tim Burton film. Just wonderful and I recommend you all go out and see it - especially if you can catch it in 3D.

Being the Leadership Development geek I am, I was struck tonight by a few parallels between "underland" and Leadership. So if you would like to follow me down the rabbit hole...

1)You must keep believing you can do what others think is impossible. Alice regularly thinks of "six impossible things before breakfast". And, how about a Dodo anyone?
2) Be persistent - if your first go doesn't work, try something else. Alice follows the "Drink Me" bottle's label and then has to try the "Eat Me" cake. Only then does she get the key to the tiny door. Second time lucky, whilst learning from the first attempt.
3) Stay true to what you believe in. The White Queen could probably do away with her sister, but to do so would break her vows - something she is not prepared to do.
4)Change happens all the time. Don't be afraid of it - the caterpillar welcomes his cocoon and in doing so eventually becomes a beautiful butterfly
5) Don't expect to be the Champion on Day 1. Alice has to go through a number of experiences until she is able to defeat the Jabberwocky. The Mad Hatter knew she was always going to be the White Queen's Champion (despite the Dormouse's protestations) but she had to grow into the role.
6) Sometimes you need to get in bed with your enemies - the Bandersnatch originally tries to kill Alice, but eventually is one of her defenders.
7) Always have a few crazies on the team - not that surprising a piece of advice coming from The Innovation Beehive, but would Alice really have defeated The Red Queen if she had not been creatively inspired by the mad creative world of The Hatter and the March Hare?
8)The Red Queen may seem to have all the power in the world but she rules by fear and discovers it is not "better to be feared than loved". We don't want to get into a whole debate again about employee engagement (see the post In Response to The Sunday Times Best Place to Work) but you all know that this management style can only work in the short term (someone please call Downing Street).
9) Have a clear Vision of where you want to get to and communicate it clearly - my favourite part of the orginal Lewis Carol story (sadly left out of the Tim Burton film) is when Alice meets the Cheshire Cat and asks him which way she should go:

'that depends a good deal on where you want to get to' said the Cat
'I don't much care where' said Alice
'Then it doesn't matter which way you go' said the Cat

Oh and, by the way, the film is excellent!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Top Ten hints on how to be more creative at work

A lovely piece in Director Magazine from Kursty Groves

Design consultant Kursty Groves offers 10 tips to help you get creative at work

1. Limit your budget
Great creative spaces don't have to cost a fortune. Many exciting workplaces are modelled using reclaimed furniture and objects. People on a budget become more resourceful and inventive.

2. Give people freedom
Allow employees to create their own "home" at work. When workers are permitted to express themselves by displaying items that interest them, closer connections with colleagues are forged.

3. Collaborate
Generating a buzz is easier when colleagues have ample opportunities to bounce thoughts and ideas around.

4. Engineer collisions
Create more opportunities for staff to bump into each other throughout the day. An effective way to do this is to provide a free kitchen and use food as a lure.

5. Friendly competition
Set teams the challenge of decorating shared spaces. Pick a theme and choose areas where customers don't enter to lower any fear factor about getting it wrong.

6. Breathe life into dead spaces
Hallways are often overlooked as tools for communicating and generating excitement. Hang stimulating artwork, soon-to-be-released products, business updates or information about staff. And keep updating the exhibits to grab people's attention.

7. Writing on the wall
Shared thinking allows ideas to be developed and honed as they happen. So create plenty of opportunities for staff to scribble ideas on the walls for others to see. Transform entire surfaces into a canvas, and make sure there's an abundant supply of colourful marker pens or chalk.

8. Change the pace
The creative brain works best when it is fed a problem and then allowed to reflect. Create deliberate barriers in well-used paths or provide places to play games. Such techniques slow people down and gives them the space they need to think.

9. Design places to escape
Sometimes we need to get messy to create. But often, especially with "clean desk" policies, people don't feel free to test ideas. Provide hidden spaces where teams can experiment without fear of judgement.

10. Get away
Even the most inspired staff in innovative companies need to go offsite. Getting away from the hyper-connectivity of the wireless world is essential for ensuring a team achieves focus. But make sure that the venue is set up to challenge thinking.

I Wish I Worked There! A Look Inside the Most Creative Spaces in Business by Kursty Groves and Will Knight is published by Wiley, priced £39.99

Career Dreams can come true!

I remember when I was a student at Goldsmith's College. My mate Lines and I were sitting at Disco Delirium, the name for the Wednesday night bash at the Student Union Bar and we were contemplating running a pub together when we left college - "that way we would see each other all the time". Well, she now works in the City and I run an Innovation and Creativity consultancy, but if the new scheme from Punch Taverns had existed back then things might have been different.

Punch is offering new graduates the keys to failing pubs for a very low entry price of £5k. In total there will be 236 up for grabs. Thinking is that young keen and bright young things will be able to turn around the fortune of failing boozers. With massive graduate unemployment, huge student loans, and the Government's target of 50% of young people going to University, Britain's most indebted pub group may just be onto something.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

How to get ahead - take a nap?

Margaret Thatcher famously got by on four hours of it. Winston Churchill used to do it though out the day and sleep was called "the new sex" a few weeks ago by The Sunday Times. Well, if you ever feel the need for a little re-charge at the office, help is at hand with the MetroNap pod, where you are immersed into a world of darkness (controlled by a timer) and lulled to sleep by ambient music whilst being gently re-fuelled.

Check out

This is the kind of innovation we like...

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Talent Culture on Employee Engagement

We love this piece from Talent Culture on Employee Engagement.

If you want to check out Talent Culture's great blog you can find it on:\

Employee Engagement: What’s a Leader to Do?
By Charee Klimek

For quite some time now the employer/employee relationships have been deteriorating. But there are bright spots that have emerged from this dark recession. Employee engagement is starting to look different and leaders are beginning to understand that it’s no longer a warm and fuzzy, it’s an absolute necessity to catapult their business and drive results.

The reasons are obvious. Progressive leaders recognize that an engaged workforce leads to an engaged customer and that leads to increased profits and better business results.

The question is where to start and how to identify the drivers of employee engagement.

A new approach to employee engagement

Rather than devising employee engagement surveys that measure attitudes and opinions about the company, how about developing questions that reveal what sort of people thrive in your organization and what motivates them?

Experts like Octavius Black, founder and managing director of the Mind Gym, say viewing employee engagement from a customer-centric focus helps employers understand what drives and motivates employees and therefore, changes the way companies communicate with workers.

As companies begin to grasp the drivers and motivators of the employee base, internal communications strategies begin to look more like external marketing strategies. In many cases this will require increased collaboration between human resources, marketing and communications to develop in-depth qualitative and quantitative methods that tap into the hearts and minds of the employees. –LISTEN.

What can leaders do to help employees contribute to business success?

Close the trust gap.

If employees cannot or do not trust that company leaders will do what they say they will do, it’s difficult to get employees to engage in the business goals. And this is a two way street because employees have to believe that leadership trusts them to do their jobs.

How well managers communicate to employees determines the level of trust and integrity, which can pay huge dividends. Without trust, companies get what The Speed of Trust author, Stephen M. R. Covey, calls “The Trust Tax.” Companies pay when leaders don’t ‘walk the talk.’ –LEAD BY EXAMPLE.

To Brand is Not to advertise

Brand and culture play a big role in employee engagement. When it comes to the brand, many companies have long perceived it as a marketing or advertising campaign. Perhaps some of that misperception lies at the feet of advertising agencies that perpetuated that myth.

In reality, the brand culture of a company embodies the very essence of the organization. It speaks directly to the fundamental fabric of a company and must start on the inside with the employees before it comes to life externally. –KEEP IT REAL.

How does this tie to employee engagement?

When employees understand the brand behaviors, employees are more likely to make a commitment to living the brand behaviors and actually doing what is expected of them in their roles. –SHOW THEM HOW.

What are leaders doing to drive engagement in their companies?

Recognition and rewards have long been a short-term method implemented by companies to drive employee engagement. But for the most part, these have not proven to be effective because they failed to integrate the fundamental measures of performance and examples of ‘how’ to drive business success. Furthermore, they did not align employee behaviors to company strategies. –IT’S TIME TO GET RESULTS.

What are you doing within your organization to drive engagement and on brand behaviors?

A response to The Sunday Times Best Small Company to Work for 2010

Do you remember that Christmas Eve feeling when you were a kid? The anticipation and excitement of knowing what was going to come tomorrow? I can’t say it was quite as exhilarating as listening out for sleigh bells in the snow, but I did have a definite sense of anticipation last Saturday, knowing that The Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies to Work for 2010 was to hit news stands the next day.

Up with the lark, off to the newsagents and, with coffee and croissant (and dog), the supplement was taken out and poured over (usually it’s Business, Property, Style and Review in that order).

What a let down.

Yes there are 55 new names here and a few interesting movements in ranking, but I am distinctly underwhelmed. Maybe it is a sign of 2009’s economic troubles but I didn’t really find much Innovation happening on the list. I did find some fun perks (hypnosis to lose weight anyone?) and some great investment in training and development - particularly of note is the peer coaching model at Fairbarin Private Bank and the financial investment made by Savile Group of £3000 per employee. Elsewhere, however, whilst sushi making may be a laugh, it does seem a bit gimmicky and over engineered.

I was also struck by how many consultancies there are in the top 100. Over 50 of the winners work in communications, HR or PR. Now I would not ever accuse them of using The Sunday Times for their own purposes, but there does seem to be an overcrowding of companies that don’t make anything and spend their time telling others how to make stuff or finding people who will do it for them (I know this is pot and kettle black stuff).

Employee Engagement is vital for Innovation – who is going to bother improving your offering if they don’t really want to be behind that till or answering that phone? And that is why this list is so important. It is a snap shot of engagement levels, and therefore potential to innovate, in the lifeblood of the UK economy – the SME.

At a CIPD conference last year I heard one HRD remark:

“I’ve spent a fortune on employee engagement programmes over the last few years. That’s all going to stop now. They are lucky to have a job”

This is exactly the kind of attitude that encourages presenteeism and celebrates an historic rate of low staff turnover. I would like to see her share price in 12 months time.

All that said, there are some great examples of Innovation in HR on this year’s list.

We love Peter Kelly, the founder of Best Place Winner, Softcat with his utopian dream of “just caring that people are happy”. The company is run like a democracy and people decide what team they want to work in.

Qedis has taken an Innovative approach to employee engagement and set up employee action groups. The use of language is interesting here – they call these groups “Families”. Lexicon also plays a part at Practicus Recruitment Consultancy where employee of the month is call a “player” and overall employee of the year is called “the player’s player”. Language can have such an influence on an organisation’s culture, I was glad to see this level of attention played to it.

Little mention was made of technology, but worthy of merit is Red Gate Software’s joint CEO Neil Davidson who is likened to Stephen Fry for his Twitter updates to staff. Also interesting is Bite Communications who encourages staff blogging and has live Twitter feeds on their website. Apart from that, the IT revolution seems to have passed most HR Departments by.

Perhaps it is telling that Savile Group, who specialise in providing support to those who have recently been made redundant, are the least stressed employees in this year’s survey. I am sure they saw profits rise in 2009.

With signs that the UK economy is in recovery I look forward to some real Innovations on next year’s list. Let’s hope, like my dreams of Santa Claus, I don’t end up disappointed.

Monday, 1 March 2010

MOK talking about Innovation

We are really pleased to confirm that MOK will be talking at the Exclusive Consult Breakfast in Manchester on 29th March. His subject? How to make an innovation culture live and breath.

Monday, 22 February 2010

The World's Most Creative Organisations

It can be quite hard to track Kursty Groves down, but when you do – even by Skype – it is well worth the effort. Kursty is the author of (soon to be published) “I Wish I Worked There! A look inside 20 of the most creative spaces in business”.

It seems somewhat of a misnomer to call Kursty just an author, for she has a background in industrial design, worked as a television presenter, runs her own business and is a fully paid up practitioner of Innovation, who has helped some of the most successful brands in the world continue to grow market share.

Kursty divides her time between London and New York and we managed to catch up with her for a quick chat in the few weeks that are left before “I Wish I Worked There!” hits bookshops.

Over the last few years Kursty has been helping organisations build creativity and innovation capability, frequently running these interventions at off-site venues.

The chief motivation for this book were two nagging concerns :

“When I run a creative session, there is invariably something wrong with the venue. Either there is too little light, or there is no space for people to reflect”

“And even if the venue is great and the delegates leave inspired, they often return to an uninspiring workplace that undoes all the good work we have done together”

Some organisations think they can address this by introducing a ‘creative space’.

Kursty visibly flinches when she tell me “it can be so misguided. Someone in HR decides to paint a room green and put in a few beanbags. They seem surprised when no-one uses it.”

When pushed on how to make creative spaces work, she can’t be stopped:

“The first thing is that management have to use the creative space. If they role model behaviour, then others in the organisation will follow. Also, it has to be firmly on brand – the bouncy balls will only work at Google- they don’t fit the culture of a bank.

You can’t just copy what is in one creative company and expect it to work the same in another”

Google is always seen as the go-to guy when you want an example of a creative space, and the author is clear that one of the reasons their space works so well is because it is firmly on brand. They are all about making the world’s information universally accessible quickly and speed is a key measure at Google. Kursty tells me that this then gives them permission to have things like a fireman’s pole in the building. It fits with what they are trying to achieve overall.

EA designers have intense periods of absolute concentration whilst they develop new gaming software. Their offices are intentionally dark places where inventors can tinker with code and graphics and continue to create the world’s most successful games. In contrast to the low-lit work areas, there are huge expanses of outside spaces with softball pitches and gyms, to encourage play, create energy and encourage collaboration.

So we know that just copying other organisations is not going to help our organisation become more creative, so why should we buy the book?

“The book is intended to be act as inspiration. I have visited what I consider to be the 20 most creative organisations on the planet. I have then boiled down what makes them so successful. They all have environments that inspire, stimulate the brain and encourage communication.”

So how could we have the perfect creative space in our office? Kursty sums it up by saying it should do the following:

1) Stimulate

2) Enable reflection

3) Promote collaboration

4) Encourage play

She has also identified the 7 Foundation Principles that need to be in place, but is keeping tight lipped about them telling me “you’ll have to buy the book”.

By now the clock was ticking and I had only a few more minutes of Kursty’s time before she got on a plane. In our last few minutes she told me about her new business, , where she and her team will help find you the perfect venue for your off-site meeting

“Even the most creative people in the most creative companies need to go off-site and find inspiration”

Creative guru, innovator and entrepreneur. Kursty Groves seems to practice what she preaches.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Apple launches the IPad

So after weeks of rumours, Steve Jobs introduced the IPad to the world today. The innovation starts with multitouch. They have put over 1000 multitouch sensors in the product so it will give us a new level of multitouch experience. The back lighting system is LED, so it is crisp and colourful. You can look at the screen off angle and not lose picture quality.

We are excited to hear that it will sync with all the aps on your IPhone, works with the 140,000 Aps currently available and plans are ahead to release softwear to enable developers to create Aps specifically for the IPad.

But we are really tempted by the IBooks, which could blow Sony's Kindle out of the water. You can read a book - great- but you can also enter a title, download it and start to read it there and then!

Is it just a big IPhone without the capacity to make calls? Or will it change the way we work and use the internet? The Innovation Beehive is on the list to receive one of the first into the UK, so we will let you know!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

I Wish I Worked There

At The Innovation Beehive, we are beside ourselves with excitement about the soon to be published "I Wish I Worked There" by Innovator, Television Presenter and Author, Kursty Groves.

We are interviewing Kursty shortly and can't wait to tell you all about her insights from some of the most innovative organisations in the world - like EA Games, Dyson and Dreamworks.

In the meantime, for a sneak preview of this fantastic new book check out

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Coke is the real thing

A new battery has been revealed today by student Daizi Zheung as part of her graduation show at Central St Matins (where MOK is an Associate Lecturer). The battery has a screw off top and, when the glucose molecules in the Coke are digested by enzymes, it produces molecules that are converted to power.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Beatrix Potter The Business Woman

If, like us, you always thought there was something special about Beatrix Potter, then you will love The Beatrix Potter Guide to Business. Want to know when a deal is too good to be true (Gemima Puddleduck), or the importance of cash flow (The Tale of Ginger and Pickles) or finally how Samuel Whiskers can teach you all about business expansion?

Check out