Lesley Thomson

Failing better

I’ve been talking a lot about failure recently. We know that risk and failure are central components of innovation. Indeed, it’s been claimed that “success can breed failure by hindering learning at both the individual and the organisational level” (Gino and Pisano, 2011).

So, I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen that we need to share our experiences of failure as well as our success stories.

It isn’t easy though, is it? Particularly in the public sector. Failure is news. It generates controversy, particularly about who was responsible.

Taking the time to tinker

I come from a family of tinkerers. My granddad was always in his shed hacking away at something or in the garage mucking about with his Morris Minor. He was a postman, not a carpenter or an engineer or a mechanic. Mostly, he didn’t know what he was doing. My grandparent’s house was full of botched repair jobs. (Putty, I remember a lot of putty. And gaffer tape.) And the car probably only just stayed on the right side of road worthiness.

Blogging as creativity

So. Blogging has (almost) come of age. Twenty years ago, a software developer in California ushered in a new era of communication. Dave Winer published his first blog post on 7 October 1994. He called his blog Davenet, and he’s been writing it most days since. And today he’s joined by many millions of bloggers worldwide.

Going undercover

Undercover Boss is one of my TV guilty pleasures. The premise of each episode is simple: the head of a large organisation leaves their ivory tower to go ‘undercover’ to find out what everyday life is like for frontline workers inside their organisation. This means rolling up their sleeves and pitching in to do the dirty jobs, as well as facing no-holds-barred feedback on what the company's doing right and what it needs to do better.

By the end of the show, the leader is humbled, often contrite, and certainly better educated and more appreciative. And I’m in tears.

Are you thinking with your hands?

“We have to understand that the world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplation. The hand is more important than the eye…The hand is the cutting edge of the mind.”

(Bronowski, 1973)

We’ve been running some design thinking ‘crash courses’ over the summer.

The ‘crash course’ is a short, hands-on, introduction to the design process – developed by the d School at Stanford University. In pairs, we take a real-world problem and come up with some solutions. In 90 minutes.

Are you getting your five a day?

It’s possibly the best known of all government health messages. It’s a simple and motivating message to eat healthier; it’s easily remembered and is neither patronising nor preachy; it’s entirely general and somehow deeply personal.

There’s a version for the mind, too - The New Economics Foundation’s ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ (Thompson, Aked, Marks and Cordon, 2008).  

Random coffee

“Poetry and hums aren’t things which you get. They’re things which get you. And all you can do is to go where they can find you”. (Milne, 1928)