I was over in Ohio last week at the 42nd annual state HR conference. It was an excellent trip catching up with old friends, making new ones, and learning from each other. Whilst there I gave a talk on Art for Work’s Sake, and two more on collaboration. At the end of each session I gave away a copy of Austin Kleon’s book, Steal Like An Artist. I give this book away often, so often I’ve lost count of the number of copies I have bought and passed on. This time – I decided to add a little something of my own to the mix, so I included a small water colour and pen sketch with each book.
I painted some water colour onto wet card and let them dry overnight. Then I drew on some iconic London related imagery, added the London Calling call sign, and my signature. All in all I guess each one took me about 45 minutes to make, the blue one slightly longer. I think I will repeat this experiment with future book giveaways, I enjoy being able to include something personal, something handmade.
In a few short weeks, Neil Morrison and I are heading off to the 2014 Louisiana SHRM Conference. I’m excited to be the conference mc this year, and Neil and I are giving a talk on the morning of day two. What will we be talking about? Here’s an excerpt from our pitch.
We believe that in addition to the functional expertise HR already does so well, there is something more we can do to create greater value for our organisations, colleagues and customers. This is more than just being a strategic partner, or being commercially focused, this is a role that only HR can play.
HR is uniquely positioned and connected with all other parts of the organisation and it is through a systemic approach that these connections can be tuned in such a way as to help the organisation create additional strategic value.
Adding value comes in many shapes and sizes, and whilst it’s tempting (and sometimes necessary) to focus on the ‘next big thing’, we also believe that small is the new significant. Our approach focuses on participation and experimentation, on developing unique internal and external relationships, it focuses on both macro and micro environments and delivery through people, not around them.
I’m excited about this gig. Neil and I share some thoughts and views, and of course we have differing opinions too. We’ve never been afraid to disagree in public, we come from very different walks of working life, and I hope we can create some useful tension and pose some interesting questions for our conference guests.
And seeing as how some of our conference guests may not have visited London, or experienced us previously, we’ve also put together a short, ultra serious video which we hope will help position our talk. Enjoy.
I facilitated another Art for Work’s Sake session in Milton Keynes a few days ago, and it went down a storm. Something that really interested me about the session was how we enabled a mixture of conversation and emergent thinking and action to develop around a framework, albeit a loosely structured one. We also cocreated a safe space in which to talk, work and experiment which certainly helped.
Here is some of the learning from recent Art for Work’s Sake sessions, pulled together for you in a SlideShare. I hope this stuff is helpful to you, feel free to download and play if you would like.
I can also confirm that I am off to Chicago again in the Autumn. I will be delivering an Art for Work’s Sake session for the people at the Illinois 2014 Society for Human Resource Management conference, with my co facilitator, Joe Gerstandt. I’m hugely excited about the work itself and about collaborating with Joe. Joe and I have been in touch for a good while now – patiently impatient – looking and waiting for a chance to do something epic. We haven’t rushed it – we’ve kept in touch – we’ve shared the good and bad in the process. And we are now ready to serve. More details on this soon.
And if that wasn’t enough, I received confirmation from Ohio over the weekend that I will be heading their way in September to do likewise. I love the way that the HR community is responding so positively to this creative and artistic way to improve the way we work.
I’ve received a lot of requests to run further sessions. Even though I am London based I’m very happy to travel to help spread the word, I think this work, this use of artistic practice to make work better, is important. So if you’d like me to come to your town or workplace – drop me a line and let’s talk.
And finally, to celebrate the great start to 2014, we are giving away our 2014 tour t shirt, a copy of the very excellent book, 101 Things To Learn In Art School, by Kit White, and a set of Stop Doing Dumb Things cards. We have three sets to give away. To win, all you have to do is leave a comment on the blog and say you’d like to go into the draw. We’ll draw the winners at random in a few weeks and then get in touch to ship your goodies to you.