blogging news

March 2019

In a recent search for further understanding about innovation I came across 2 articles that have made me re-think my practice.

Jun Nakamuro, Leadership Development Trainer for Organizational Reform 

based in the US. In his article ‘Re-Translating Lean from Its Origin’, re-examines the Kaizen methodology that informs  The Toyota Production System.

He looks at the language and its translation and notes how a different view focusses on Kaizen as a mindset.

Kaizen is not about making physical improvements. Kaizen is about changing one’s behaviors ‘

Mark Masuoka Director and CEO of Akron Art Museum in the US, wrote an article in 2018 discussing the requirement for our people to have imagination. With the challenge of AI potentially removing transactional work, what remains is work that requires problem solving, vision making, thinking differently and human pattern recognition analysis.

All attributes and outcomes of a creative and active imagination.

Innovation often focuses on product development and the processes that shape our roadmap to new products. And although there is no doubt that technological innovation can support our move to more sustainable economies and environments, my practice has been focused on developing and growing people.

Once at work we cease to ‘play’.

Homo Ludens first published in 1944 in which Johan Huizinga defines play:

It proceeds within its own proper boundaries of time and space according to fixed rules and in an orderly manner.’

Play does have intrinsic rules – how often do you hear a small child complaining about their pal who didn’t play by the rules? These rules are often co-created – you cannot build a fort with leaves or shoot your team mates.  An argument ensures and small children often build a consensus to change or accept that rule.

Innovation tools and techniques can re-encourage that mind set, providing space, authority and skills to apply ‘play’ to an organisational criterion.

However, it is still difficult for organisations and business, in this current economy, to see the real value in growing their people creatively when other targets take precedence.

So how do you marry the creative and pragmatic approach to drive real value for organisations?

One of the methodologies I have come across recently is Mark Browns’ total innovation management framework of the Dolphin Index.

Here he talks about the ambidextrousness of companies that succeed and the need to marry both development streams.

I am always looking to discover new ways to marry these two requirements in the programmes I develop.  Play to innovate, whether as an individual or as an organisation, can only build long term viable and desirable value for any organisation wishing to think for their future.

How do you do it – how do apply creativity in people to pragmatic outcomes in a quantifiable methodology?



November 2015

My partner with 2 talented young filmmakers are going to Calais with as much money as they can raise, to give out aid to women, children and families in the camp known as ‘The Jungle’.

It is hellish to hear the stories and feel powerless to help. Faith In Humanity  are travelling down as well with a truck load of donations- tents, warm clothes etc.

The manager of City Mission is going to giving them hygiene pouches to distribute with soap, toothbrushes etc. The City Mission were going to take them down in January but are delighted that they can get there earlier. The group are going on the 25th of Nov and they will take advice and use the money to either give to those most in need to buy food down there whatever they most need. Food bought locally not only provides support to the local economy but engenders a community link with the residents of Calais.

The situation is getting worse by the day with more people arriving. And the weather is worsening.  The group are organising a raffle in local workspaces with some super prizes for which they are really grateful.

Prizes include:

One night’s Bed and Breakfast at The Kings Arms Hotel Castle Douglas

NLP Practitioner Course by Kate and Toby McCartney worth almost £3000. It will be held in Glasgow early next year.  The details are here

They have a free taster weekend this coming weekend at the Grand Central Hotel which still has places.

 Dinner at the Pacific Tiki Bar and Kitsch Inn

 Babu Bombay Street Kitchen tote bag and meal vouchers

 Meal vouchers for Frosoulla’s restaurant

 One as yet undisclosed gift from Wild Fig Catering

 2 x Life Coaching sessions worth £100 (Dorothy C Le Grove)

 A Shop Of Interest Goodie bag of art prints, candles, bracelets, furry moustache brooches.

Meal for two at Rio Café

Everything raised will go straight to someone living under a tarpaulin or a tent  in December who is probably got scabies from the filthy living conditions and is trying to keep their child warm and fed.

While they  are there they will also be making a short film to raise awareness and try to counter the skewed narrative coming from the Murdoch’s News International which is all about marauding groups of young men rather than the reality of the situation which  includes abandoned children and families.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

A friend told me a story about walking along a beach where thousands of star fish had washed ashore and were dying. She started picking them up one by one and throwing them back into the sea. Her friend said ‘there’s no point, theres too many of them’. And she replied as she launched another one ‘he thinks there is’.

Their endeavor will be a drop in the ocean but there are loads of people who are doing amazing things and there is a transition point where drops become a body of water. And there is nothing more empowering when you think you are part of the solution – that’s when ordinary magic begins.

If you have donations there are still people collecting and ready to truck or drive down – and also what is needed is volunteers to sort and pack these donations.

A new post will list some of these organisations and donation centers.

November 2015

All summer my partner and I have watched whilst the trickle of refugees turn into a torrent of people pouring away from their bombed homes and dead neighbours. And like most of us, we have asked each other how we got to this state, knowing full well our own country’s complicity. We have asked what we can do about it, accepting our own unwillingness to forgo our comfortable and safe lifestyle.  
And the tipping point came for most of us, with the pictures of young children dead on the beaches of Greece.  
Research in mainstream media reports of the ‘jungle’ camp and a search for statistics mentions the 90% inhabitants being young male and there start the comments of Jihadists and terrorists. A report talks about the truck drivers carrying tasers being scared for their lives. 
There is a positive spin on the recent report of the French Court judgement requiring the Calais Council to supply more water tap outlets, latrines and rubbish collection for the camps. But it was generated by the only official organisation on the ground there, Doctors of the World.  
 But it is only really on Facebook that you come across the volunteer stories, the ones from Greece where volunteers hold dying children in their arms and the names of the medical staff volunteering their time and money to go help in the hospitals. Here you find stories of the women’s’ camp in Calais that no-one ever mentions, the unattended young children whose remaining family members are running nightly for trucks or trains to get into the UK. More scared of trying to take them with them in this risky endeavour, than leave them abandoned in the camps. It is here that you find out that there is E-Coli in the water and that scabies is rife. 
Today we visited a young women in the south side of Glasgow who single-handedly has set up ‘Faith in Humanity’ ( an organisation dedicated to helping the destitute, who created the web site on her phone. She has four young children of her own and stands in the upper floor of a cold and dusty church surrounded by cardboard boxes and black bags filled to the brim with donations. Everyone wants to help – no-one wants to sit idly by and feel powerless to make a difference. As Jenn says we are an island – it’s difficult to imagine that war could happen here – but what if it did ‘What if it was my children, my family. Who would help them?’ 
Donations are pouring in here and elsewhere and there is patently a need in the UK to make it clear that we will not stand by whilst our governments argue politics, in the face of such need.  
But both here in Glasgow and elsewhere in the UK the donations come in and good people pack them up and drive them to where they are needed, but sorting, packing, labelling takes time and requires more volunteers. In Calais particularly, bodies are need to sort and distribute so that this act of mercy, this feeling of a connected humanity, setting fire to the hearts of people in the UK, is not wasted by the lack of co-ordination. Blankets still in the warehouse do not provide warmth to that woman or child running for sanctuary. 
Jenn hopes to go to Calais by the end of November. Her contacts will help her distribute where the donations are most needed and friends with medical training intend to go with her. 
She has managed to raise funds for a truck to drive down and is looking for support for the cost of the journey and mostly people want to be able to help. These people create a chain of goodwill, of support and humanity that eventually touches the displaced peoples in Calais and elsewhere across Europe. 

 August 2015
It’s interesting to see different blogs out there.

August 2015



People are inherently creative and want to shape their own experiences.

The clash between the system and the people who use the system is, in my experience , one of the main areas  where failures occur. Until the system designers take all stakeholder perspectives into consideration in their complex and messy environments we will continue to design systems that fail. The co-creative enterprise is an examples  where a design turn has been taken to the benefit of all.

In co-creation, strategy formulation involves imagining a new value chain that benefits all players in the ecosystem

‘.. a company with an Indian soul, its leaders empathized with the struggling small farmers and their fierce desire to stay independent, and wanted to help lift them out of poverty. ITC’s leaders reasoned that the best way to raise the farms’ productivity and quality was to help growers discover and implement better practices. So improving the individual farmer’s experience was a primary goal at the outset.

ITC decided to involve multiple stakeholders that shared this goal, including NGOs and the Indian government, from the start. In early workshops with farmers, the idea of holding forums that taught them how to improve yields and upgrade crop quality quickly emerged. The farmers also expressed interest in learning how to store their crops and when to sell them to maximize the price received.

In response, ITC built a series of kiosks with internet access called e-choupals. (Choupal means “meeting place” in Hindi.) Each was located within walking distance (four or five kilometers) of several villages. Each provided information in the local dialect on the daily weather forecast, crop prices, and other agricultural news; advice on farming methods; an e-mail service that let farmers interact with scientists at agricultural universities, technical people at ITC, and fellow farmers who may have dealt with challenges similar to theirs; and access to land records, health and educational services, and information from NGOs on the latest developments in cattle breeding and crop seeds.’

August 2015

Uploaded image: No description set.
An anthropologist thought he would test these African children. He placed a bowl of fruit underneath a tree and and told them that the first one to reach the tree could have all the fruit. When he told the children to run, they all took each other’s hands and ran together. They all enjoyed the fruit together.
When asked why they didn’t run the course alone, they answered, ‘UBUNTU! How can we be happy when others are sad?’
UBUNTU in Xhosa is roughly translated as ‘I am because we are.’

June 2015 

tinos- sun and stairs


Last week I spent a week in Tinos, a beautiful unspoilt Greek island just north of Mykonos in the Mediterranean. 

I attended the IVSA annual conference with Dorothy Le Grove  and Brenda Trinidad 

I am interested in how people see their world from both a business organisational context and within and as communities. I design and facilitate creative, collaborative arts projects with Imaginary Zoo and I wanted to see how visual sociolology could inform my work, provide different perspectives and to be honest, spend some time in the sun! 

The conference examined the concept of ‘what you see is what you get – new ways of seeing society’ and I attended some fascinating discussions and lectures. 

The programme included a diverse range of subjects and I was only able to attend a few of them. 

I was particularly struck by the following areas. 

Civil Dialogue 

Developed by John Gennet of Arizona State University the Institute of Civil Dialogue. 

 “Civil Dialogue (CD) is a structured format for public dialogue that provides a tool to build bridges across the chasm of public viewpoints. CD can be used in multiple contexts to help people communicate in civil and productive ways, especially when they face “hot topics” and need to employ “cool heads.” 

 Essentially I see this as a methodology to recognise and listen to personal testimonies 

With a format and ground rules,  Civil Dialogue provides a tool to open discussions across multiple perspectives, facilitate the development of both active listening and ownership of ideas in a Systems Thinking and Practice approach. 

I can see a use for it in work streams where multiple stakeholders have the potential for conflict – a tenant community and their landlord or management company; between stakeholders from different parts of the organisation, for instance IT and Legal but also in the community where values and beliefs appear to be at odds with each other. 



‘Sharing Seeing’ presented by Caroline Ali-Khan. An educationalist with the University of North Florida, she had worked with photo elicitation with school children in a Pakistan village with great effect. 

‘Children are typically positioned as unable to participate as actors in the knowledge economy. Their insights and voices are seldom heard in educational spaces. Using image-based research the authors solicited the voices of children by encouraging them to speak to adults through multiple mediums.’ 

“Photovoice is a process by which people can identify, represent, and enhance their community through a specific photographic technique.” 

Trying to think creatively –  how and when could this be used as an elicitation tool for community engagement, representation and expression? Could I apply it in a business setting, by tenants to show what they see on their doorsteps? By members of different departments to show what their working day looks like? 

Could it be used to develop community projects for disadvantaged groups, for generating visual media as seen by them as opposed to a presupposed view by someone external to that community? 

I came away from the conference with some great ideas and had been party to some intense conversations. The sky was blue, as was the sea and it was interesting to spend some time in Greece at the height of this political unrest and come to a place where history has and is being made.



March 2015
we have recently loaded two working life stories with vastly different experiences of Social Work in the UK and a fascinating insight into working at Paisley’s factories in the early part of the last century.

geriatric-social-work Health Workers Collective

I think you will find that they are all remarkable.
If you want to interview someone you know so that we can add it to the collections, please contact us for some advice about how to do this.

Do you want us to publish your working life story?

Are you interested in volunteering as an interviewer?

Let us know your thoughts.


Feb 2015


Imaginary Zoo is in process of putting together our Collections. Stories not told, histories not spoken, voices not heard. These collections, bought together in one place, will be a resource for us all, providing us with some hope that we will learn from our history as we move forward.
Follow us to keep up to date with these new developments.

Our Words


Jan 2015

In 2005, Pauline and Esther Weinstein (a mother and daughter team) came up with a way of
helping people who after many years in employment had suddenly lost their
jobs. They set up a website WISEArchive in order to preserve the
stories they told us. The archive is still accessible on line but  Esther and Paulne have now
moved on to fresh pastures.

However they want to say a big thank you to the many interviewers,
transcribers and other volunteers who have over this long period supported
WISEArchive in so many ways and to reassure them that all the material is
safely stored in the Norfolk Record Office. We also wish to thank all the
funders who have believed in us and our many well wishers
Thank you
Pauline and Esther