Social HR Leadership and Cultural Clues

When I was in Louisiana recently I was fortunate to meet up with Nisha Raghavan, aka Your HR Buddy. Nisha kindly asked if I would be interviewed for her blog and I happily agreed. Her post, including the interview was published this week.

Despite the fact I look a lot like a convict who has just got out of bed (note to self, buy a hairbrush) – I wanted to share the video interview here, which Nisha describes as follows:

Doug talks about using social tools to create opportunities to collaborate and co-create things more innovatively at your workplace. He urges us to share our passion which is really an interesting way to connect with each other and inspire one another. He says ‘With the growing use of social tools we have a chance to re-humanize work and put people back at the heart of work, not the other way around. We can use transparency, systems thinking and even our vulnerability to create powerful places to work’.

In addition if you choose to listen, you’ll hear about my growing interest in art meets work, and my long held belief that we’re all of us capable of much more than we first believe. Experimentation is a vital ingredient in life. There’s also a reference to my New Year’s Evolution and a couple of other things too. The interview lasts sixteen minutes and fifty seven seconds so why not grab a coffee first, and I hope you will find something useful in here. Thanks again Nisha for the opportunity.

Leap Day Learning

leap day paint brush

Wow! Leap day came and went in a blur of useful fun. Our numbers ebbed and flowed a little through the day, and that movement combined with the choice of venue, those who came along, the weather, the whole mix, really inspired and contributed to a great day.

To remind you – the day was loosely framed around connections between art and business, and being Leap Day, taking a leap into the unknown. Our time together started with a vigorous conversation around psychometric tests, fuelled by my recent MBTWhy? blog post. I’d not expected this and the conversation and debate flowed for about an hour before we drew our attention to matters a little more artistic.


Vandy found a super poem hanging on the wall of the Perse School in Cambridge, which we shared to help set the scene:

See what I found

Some new corners of myself

Hiding away, tucked out of sight,

Untapped, untried, I found them

While reaching out to others.

I wonder how much more of me

There is to discover

– Anon


From there we tried our hand at drawing. Jonathan asked us all to draw in pencil for two minutes. We then shared our drawing with our immediate neighbour who asked non judgmental questions about the drawing for a minute. We reversed roles for a further minute and then were invited to either enhance the drawing, or draw again. How would the brief, non judgmental coaching we had given each other affect our work?

pencil drawing

My intention was to try and recreate a realistic impression of a pencil, at a much larger scale. I think these two before and after shots show how powerfully and quickly someone can improve after some non judgmental questioning of their work.


Vandy gave us a great introductory lesson in water colours. We all had a play and tried our hand at painting a grape.

bruised grape

I think my attempt is OK – it looks a bit bruised! And I’ve had another play with the techniques we learned which you can view here if you would like.


Jon Bartlett brought a camera and took some great pics. I pinched an element of one of his photos for the picture at the start of this post and you can see the whole album here. Jon’s photos are well worth a look and they convey a sense of the warmth and inclusion we cocreated on the day.


Since the day a number of people have written about it. You can read Vandy’s excellent summary here. David Goddin wrote a thought provoking piece here, and Jon captured an unexpected and special moment here.

I think we covered a useful spectrum of art based activities on the day. We certainly had a lot of useful fun, and I can see lots of ways in which elements of the day would fit very well into learning in the workplace. In the aftermath people who attended described the day with words like ‘awesome’ ‘friendly’ ‘real conversations’ ‘informal and creative’ ‘welcome’ ‘inclusion’ ‘fed the soul’.

We’re planning to run some more of these sessions sometime over the Summer. I’ll keep you posted. Meantime I’m interested to know what you think of this concept, and whether or not you think there’s a place for art and business to collaborate better?


Leap Day

Leap Year Leap Day

photo c/o rick harrison

Amid all the good morning and Happy February greetings on Twitter it struck me that 2012 is a Leap Year. Woohoo – we get a free, bonus day. What to do with it? Surely we can think of a few fun, useful and interesting things to do together?

So I hereby declare 29th February 2012 as Leap Day. I’d like to make a few things happen in London on that day and I’d love some help.

Maybe some of you will join in, maybe you won’t.

Maybe some of you will suggest stuff we can do, maybe you won’t.

Maybe some of you will come along for the whole day, maybe just a part of it.

Maybe some of you will organise your own Leap Days in other places, maybe you won’t.

If you would like to get involved in anything from coming along to suggesting and perhaps leading on a part of the day all ideas are would be very welcome. Time and enthusiasm will be given freely. Any cost for the day will be agreed in advance and will simply cover materials, any entrance fees or anything else that is suggested and co-created and all that jazz.

Warning! If you choose to take part you may end up meeting interesting people. You may end up enjoying yourself and there is a high risk you will learn useful new things.

So if you fancy a mini adventure, a Leap into the unknown – stick your name down here and we’ll start to make stuff happen.


Leap Day is Taking Shape

Bringing work and art closer together has interested me for as long as I can recall. Art helps us think differently, whether we are viewing it or creating it. Different parts of the brain are stimulated by different activities and I’ve seen for myself how applying art into a team environment can spark new and different ways of thinking, and solving.

I would like to invite all our Leap Day guests to explore and discuss and practice how we might bring work and art closer together, for mutual benefit. Developing creative opportunities, learning opportunities, business opportunities.

Vandy Massey, one of our Leap Day guests, is an accomplished painter, specialising in water colour. Vandy has kindly agreed to lead a painting workshop as part of the day. We’re also looking at visiting a gallery, and bringing some speed coaching into play too. Doubtless other things will emerge as more ideas are sent in and shared.

I’m in discussion with a quirky, different, and suitably lovely venue close to Waterloo which I hope we can use as a base, as a leaping off point for some of our activities. I’ll have more news on this soon.

The day will start around 11am with coffee and conversation and we’ll take it from there. I expect we may want to wind things up around 4pm and perhaps move on for optional beers and maybe even a bite to eat in the early evening. There will be opportunities for people to hook up with us through the day if the suggested start and finish times aren’t suitable.


Photography will be playing a part in the day. Some folks are bringing cameras so I wonder if we can try and make a photo collage and try out some cool photo apps too. We may have a poetry reading too.


Delighted to confirm the venue for Leap Day is Coopers Natural Foods, 17 Lower Marsh, London SE1 7RJ. Coopers was featured in the recent Rebecca Ferguson video – Nothing’s Real but Love. Awwww. Thanks to Tim at Coopers for agreeing to let us use his famous place as a base.