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Mark Mason on the importance of creativity

Following recent events, the future of our next generation is even more uncertain and the opportunity to plug the ever-widening digital skills gap, with young hungry talent, is becoming increasingly challenging.

 

In the UK we have traditionally been known as a creative nation, one that prides itself in its ability to develop innovation culture and engender an entrepreneurial spirit in its approach to business.

However, last week the National Union of Teachers (NUT) held a strike and the union’s acting leader Kevin Courtney told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Class sizes are going up. We are being told of schools where there will be classes of 35 in September. Art, dance and drama teachers are being made redundant or not being replaced when they leave – individual attention for children is going down.”

We need to find a way to continue to engage students in creative subjects and champion the arts alongside STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) based subjects. The way to do this is to create a head of STE(A)M where the creativity is injected through the Arts based subjects.

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The Next Generation – IoT (Internet of Things) Challenge, design workshop, with Reading based students that was run in June as part of a series of events championing STE(A)M, is a good example of what we can do here.

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Run at GROW@GreenPark we invited IT and business students from Reading Girls School and Henley Business School to join us and partnered them with mentors from Nvidia, KPMG and 1854 Concepts. They all came together for a fun filled day of creativity and collaboration.

The students formed teams and were asked to generate concepts using Design Thinking #designthinking methodology.

At the end of the session each team delivered a five-minute ‘pitch’ to a panel of judges and a winning concept was selected.

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The day was energetic with both the students and mentors throwing themselves into the challenge with great enthusiasm, meaning the day was fast paced and a lot of fun.

One student commented…

“This has been the most exciting and fun day I’ve had (outside of school) ever!!”

What better inspiration and motivation to want to continue to fight for Arts based subjects in education?

Mark Mason

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If you would like to get involved and help us champion STE(A)M, find out more about how you can join us either in person or through collaborating remotely with our Westminster event on 1st November

 

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Several of us at Holy Brook find that a client often starts by working with us in one area and ends by needing support in a different area – which is one of the reasons our team with complementary skills love working together.  Here Sarah explores a common issue facing communications professionals:

I and many of my fellow internal communication professionals will be familiar with the situation expressed in this tweet from Internal Comms Guru that I spotted on Twitter recently. More than once in my career – both in-house and as a freelance specialist – I have asked for details of the strategy or business case for a project so that I can write the key communication messages to support it and been met with blank looks. It never ceases to amaze me how many things happen at organisations without a clear reason and based on instinct (or whim) alone.

The lack of a strategic business case doesn’t always automatically mean it’s a bad idea, of course. Sometimes that powerful gut instinct or ‘nose for success’ can be extremely accurate and beneficial. Companies that follow a flexible approach to trying new ways of working and developing new services can often claim to be truly innovative. But it does make effective communication tricky and it can impact on employee engagement too.

Last year I worked with a not-for-profit organisation who had asked me to carry out an audit of their internal communications. They had grown in size very quickly and the methods of communication that had served them well as a small band of like-minded souls in one room were no longer fit for purpose. One of the themes that came through my research was that employees were confused about why some people’s ideas for new lines of work were taken forward and others were not. Without clear communication about what was happening and the reasons why, employees were becoming disheartened and disengaged.

So what can you do if you find yourself in this position? I believe that one of the key skills of good communicators is to ask questions and really listen to the answers. This can be really useful in getting to the bottom of what is going on and why. We all live with a certain level of ambiguity, but having a clear enough view of what is happening so that you can at least put together some draft messages is a good start. And in my experience, once you have something to share with your client or stakeholders, this can act as a mirror to show them what they’re currently giving out as their messages. This can in itself be useful, as it provides an opportunity for them to reflect on whether that is what they really mean. You will often find that you have either hit the nail of their business case on the head or that you are wide of the mark and they feel obliged to put you straight.

I am aware that things are rarely as black and white as this in real life, but having a plan of your own is a great way to move things forward. What do you think? I’d love to hear your experiences, either in the comments below or via email.

Post originally published on Sarah’s own blog

Holybrook Associates_4421b_resizeThis week is Dying Matters week and I have been talking to people from Holy Brook colleagues to Anne Diamond on her BBC Berkshire Radio station about the importance of thinking about death and the end of life.

A number of people have commented how morbid this might be or depressing.  Obviously to an extent it is but in my experience actually the people who work in end of life – from funeral directors, to hospice workers to people who are looking at how to improve policy seem to have something in common.

It is a sense of life and the importance of ensuring that their life is lived to the full.  This ranges from a council worker who climbed Kilimanjaro in her 50s to Baroness Greengross who has devoted her life to looking at aging and end of life to a young care worker I met who supports patients with dementia.

They all believe in a life well lived and that death and end of life may be the end of our story (at least on this earth) but that it is an important part of our story.

I believe that the approach to end of life in this country can be better.  With an aging population, public sector austerity alongside huge potential for using digital technology and information to change our approach to death both as a community and for professionals involved changes are coming anyway – we can do more to help more people have a good death.  We have one chance to get it right.

If you are interested in this area please get in touch – I am always happy to discuss how we can improve this– what is the harm in reaching out?  After all as the twitter tag says: #YODO (#Youonlydieonce)

rachel.eden@holybrook-associates.co.uk