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Gabriella Eberhardt, HR Leader at GE Mining, shares her impressions after our London event 'Transforming Culture at GE Mining'.

Interested to learn more? Fresh Thinking Labs is the international platform for company networking and workplace innovation, On Line  and In Person:

Please contact us for further information!

DS Smith Lockerbie believes in open, inclusive and devolved decision-making.

As part of the company’s commitment to workplace innovation, morning meetings in the Operations Room were introduced to improve communication and enable joint planning and problem-solving amongst employees. Front line representatives from each work area take part in these meetings and use a series of visual management boards to record their daily discussions. Participants take turns in leading the meeting and are encouraged to keep the tone optimistic and collaborative.

Meetings are coached and scored by members of the management team, using a standard proforma to measure the quality of factors such as effectiveness, participation, inclusivity, and the avoidance of blame and recrimination. The MD usually coaches the Friday morning meeting and encourages reflection on ‘how to make next week better than this week’.

The change has been welcomed by employees, who are steadily embracing the new culture and are extending more participative ways of working into other areas of the business.

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DS Smith is a European leading packaging company of customer-specific packaging, based in Lockerbie, Scotland. Operations Manager David Murdoch asked Peter and Rosemary from Workplace Innovation Europe, as part of the Scottish Enterprise Workplace Innovation Engagement Programme, to help involve his staff in innovative ways to improve the business.

A facilitated Mini-FabLab session, with front line staff representing each area across the workforce, was a new experience for DS Smith. The group rose to the challenge and modelled and then re-modelled the factory, deep in discussion and sharing experiences and creating solutions… using boxes and paper! They addressed production issues, suggested improvements for team work, and identified where quality improvements could be made. Some were quick wins and some quite radical changes.

They presented the redesigned model to David who was very positive and receptive to their ideas, and will support the group to continue to meet every month to develop improvements. David also welcomed their idea of the teams of operators pausing production to identify and resolve a problem together at the time it is flagged, rather than at the end of the line, which he agreed will reduce waste and improve quality control.

So, plenty of creative improvements to take forward and they had fun and enjoyed the experience!

Want to know more? Get in touch!

Liberty Steel is one of ten companies taking part in the Scottish Enterprise Workplace Innovation Engagement Programme led by Workplace Innovation Europe.

As a market-leading steel plate mill,  Liberty Steel Dalzell  has an established history of engineering outstanding heavy steel plate. Through their action plan, Willie and Peter recognised the need for openness, transparency, team working, visible and supportive leadership, and, above all, engaging the workforce. They designed an ambitious framework of regular meetings and forums involving all levels of the workforce.

Problems with the cutting machine brought the benefits of workplace innovation into focus. Everyone was looking to senior management to find a solution but none was forthcoming until a problem-solving forum was set up, bringing together frontline employees and younger engineers. Re-examining the evidence using problem solving tools and whiteboards, they identified the issue and corrected the machinery, leading to the most efficient 24 hours from the machine and the highest shift production level ever.

“What makes the Workplace Innovation Programme different from others, it’s about resilience, keeping going, don’t give up at the first hurdle. And that’s why we have been at every session and enjoyed every session. We’ve taken the learning and ideas and brought them back and implemented them, and they work. Trust us, if they can work in our environment they can work in any environment” (Willie McWhinnie, Chief Engineer, Liberty Steel).

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Fresh Thinking Lab members enjoy access to a unique range of opportunities for sharing knowledge and experience, building professional relationships with like-minded people and collaborating with them on issues of common interest.

Open Events are available to all Fresh Thinking Labs members.

2017 Open Events
February 22nd-23rd February, Nottingham
E.ON: Diversity, Inclusion and Culture

EON is one of the UK's leading power and gas companies - generating electricity, and retailing power and gas. The company has been passionate about Diversity and Inclusion for many years and has won several awards for its initiatives in this area. During this event E.ON will examine the question: “how do you embed Diversity and Inclusion in the very DNA of an organisation – and reap the resulting benefits in terms of enhanced engagement and business performance?”
March 8th-9th March, Copenhagen
Two day event: Collaborative Workplaces of the Future with the Danish Technological Institute & Novozymes
Denmark’s capital has become an innovation hotspot and host to some of the world’s most innovative and creative companies. Inspired by exciting companies and leading experts we will immerse ourselves in an intensive two-day programme featuring speakers from IKEA, Hitachi, Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies, ISS, VELUX and more. We will network and learn how to make our workplaces more collaborative and engaged in creating innovations that excite our customers, including interactive learning sessions and hands-on workshops.
12th-13th July, London
Transforming Culture at GE Mining
GE Mining is on a journey to build purposeful, high performing teams dedicated to winning together. That involves trust, moving away from performance rankings towards mutual accountability and a commitment to delivering for each other. For example, GE’s Performance Development tool leverages horizontal feedback, helping people to understand their impact on others.
26th - 27th September, Tallinn
Designing Organisations for Empowerment and Competence Development
In 2014 Estonian software development company Proekspert announced that it had become a manager-free, flat organisation… and won first place at the ‘Employer of Your Dreams’ 2014 competition in the business sector category. Staff are invited to “organise your own work, choose your own tools, and communicate directly with your clients”. So how do you embed – and sustain – such a change?
TDB Autumn 2017
The Good Work and Mental Well-being Lab*: Opening Workshop
Fresh Thinking Labs and Mindful Employer are delighted to launch the Good Work and Mental Well-Being Lab in association with Macmillan Cancer Support, E.ON, Jacobs and TNO (the Dutch national research organisation). A highly interactive event combining insights and knowledge from leading experts with opportunities for participants to learn about each other and to share practical experience.

NB: timing and content of events may be subject to change.

*Labs carry an additional charge unless your company has Premier membership.

How do I sign up?

Become a member of Fresh Thinking Labs to gain access to these Open Events. The registration form invites you to indicate which of these events you are interested in signing up to, so that we can allocate your place as soon as possible.

Please note that Company Standard Membership of Fresh Thinking Labs includes one place at each Open Event; Company Plus Membership enhances these benefits by offering up to three places, while Company Premier Membership includes up to five places.

In Person Labs in 2017

Fresh Thinking Labs members also enjoy unique opportunities to form In Person Labs, which are closed groups of circa 15 companies focused on a specific theme or geographical location. These groups meet three or four times a year, typically in members’ workplaces, enabling the host to showcase good practices and gain support from other participants as ‘critical friends’. Fresh Thinking Labs Members join In Person Labs either at a reduced subscription fee or free of charge, depending on their category of membership.

Find out more about In Person Labs running in 2017.

Any questions?

Contact us:

Register Now for our latest news and updates or for Fresh Thinking Labs.

Join us for 24 hours of knowledge sharing and out-of-the-box thinking on: “How do you create workplace cultures that help attract and retain the best talent?”

When: Wednesday 12th July (12.30-17.45) & Thursday 13th July (8.30 - 13.00)

Where: GE UK HQ, The Ark , London, UK

Registration: here.

Join Fresh Thinking Labs in London for an afternoon and morning of learning and knowledge-sharing about changing culture at GE Mining.

GE Mining is on a journey to build purposeful, high performing teams dedicated to winning together. That involves trust, moving away from performance rankings towards mutual accountability and a commitment to delivering for each other. For example, GE’s Performance Development tool leverages horizontal feedback, helping people to understand their impact on others.

GE Mining’s aspiration is for a culture that will help its adaptation to a changing workforce while accelerating processes of change and technology adoption throughout the company. ‘Delivering for each other’ also involves shared intelligence, developing a ‘living knowledge base’ that survives employee turnover.

Yet what does this mean in practice? And how far has GE come on its journey?

This event will provide participants with the unique opportunity to

  • learn about GE's leading-edge thinking and innovative practices;
  • build cumulative insights, by discussing the issues with a cross-section of staff at GE's London HQ and, via video link, with GE mining teams across the world;
  • be a 'critical friend' to GE Mining's senior team during constructive feedback sessions;
  • share knowledge and experience with a diverse group of Fresh Thinking Labs members from other companies - including over a vibrant networking dinner!

Who can participate?

This event is open to companies and organisations of all sizes and sectors. We invite you to get in touch if you are interested in workplace innovation and in sharing your experiences and insights with GE, and other external participants, as 'critical friends'. Please note that we are unable to offer places to consultants.

    How can I register?

    Participation in this event is available on a one-off cost basis, or as part of Fresh Thinking Labs annual membership, which offers access to a further programme of Open Events of this kind across Europe.

    Please book your place here or contact Naomi Imms, Fresh Thinking Labs Coordinator by email at or by telephone on 0115 933 832 to discuss flexible rates for your organisation and to reserve your place.

    Proekspert’s Journey to Success: winners of the European Excellence Awards HR 2017 in the category Work 4.0 - work of the future!

    Time and Date: 11.00-17.30 on Tuesday 25th, and 9.00 – 15.00 on Wednesday 26th September 2017
    Place: Proekspert, Sõpruse puiestee 157, 13417 Tallinn, Estonia
    Booking info: here.

    Join Fresh Thinking Labs in Tallinn for an afternoon and morning of learning and knowledge-sharing about organisational design at Proekspert.

    Proekspert is a unique organisation, which has made the transformation from being a ‘typical software company’ to a service, design and product development company, at the same time as becoming ‘bossless’ – in other words, manager-free!

    Over Tuesday 25th and Wednesday 26th September 2017, the team at Proekspert will share the story of their organisational transformation during interactive learning and facilitated reflective sessions. As a participant, you will have the opportunity to:

    • learn about Proekspert’s uniquely employee-centric organisation and culture, and how it was shaped;
    • help staff at Proekspert to identify and reflect on the opportunities and challenges that their organisational transformation has presented;
    • share your own organisation’s experiences, achievements and challenges in this area with other participants;
    • identify new techniques to encourage employee-driven innovation back in your own organisation.

    The Host Company

    Proekspert, in its own words, ‘creates software for companies that shape the modern world’. The company prides itself on mixing insight-led technology with cutting-edge design and usability to deliver solutions across industries. Their apps are used for a diverse range of functions and clients – ranging from mobile-controlled adjustable luxury beds to real-time stock market interactions, remote payment for parking spaces to banking updates and air conditioning controls.

    The company’s innovative approach to delivering client-centred technological solutions is mirrored in its approach to organisational design and employee experience. At the end of 2013 Proekspert decided to ‘go flat’ by returning managerial power to the grass-roots level; with communication and team effort taking over from middle management. It has also cultivated a unique, holistic HR philsophy, which you can find out more about in this article, written by Tiina Saar-Velmaa, Workplace Happiness Advocate at Proekspert.

    Proekspert’s success in pioneering a relatively radical ‘bossless’, employee-centric organisational model has attracted a string of awards over the past three years including Excellent Employer award, the Best Design Implementer, plus Estonia’s Dream Employer of the Year award. The company has also just been shortlisted for "National Public Champion for Estonia" in European Business Awards in the 'The Award for Innovation' category.

    Find out more about what makes Proekspert special in the video below.

    Interested in booking? Please let us know:

    Fresh Thinking Labs and Mindful Employer are delighted to launch the Good Work and Mental Well-Being Lab in association with Macmillan Cancer Support, E.ON, Jacobs and TNO (the Dutch national research organisation).

    Mental health problems are a huge issue affecting people and business. Statistics tell us that 1 in 4 people will be affected by a mental health problem at some time in their life with the result that 17 million working days are lost each year, at a cost of around £26bn to UK employers alone.

    These figures only paint part of the picture, and recent research has also shown that employees are likely to give different reasons for taking sick leave because of poor mental health.

    While there is undoubtedly a myriad of factors contributing to individual mental health – whether genetic, environmental, or otherwise – it is clear that the workplace has huge potential either to promote or to undermine mental wellbeing.

    Good work supports mental well-being for everyone. Employers increasingly recognise the need to identify and support people with mental health problems but the wider task is to identify and address those workplace practices which build or undermine mental well-being. So, what can employers do to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem?

    The Lab is based on a small, closed network of companies, public sector and not-for-profit employers committed to exploring and developing future-focused workplaces that generate positive mental health and well-being for all through healthy and engaging work.

    The Lab
    • Enables the sharing of good practice and ideas between workplaces.
    • Creates a forum for collaborative innovation and problem solving.
    • Bridges the gap between research and practice.
    • Draws on experience from our network of leading companies from across Europe.
    • Will generate a practical guide to positive mental health at work, exclusively for Lab participants.

    • Meetings hosted by member companies, each providing an opportunity to share achievements and current challenges.
    • Build active relationships with your peers in other member organisations.
    • Be part of an online community with access to a wider international network.
    • Expert guidance relating to evidence-based practice.

    Premium Members can join at no extra cost!

    Get in touch for more information or

    How the Good Work and Mental Well-Being Lab  will help

    The Lab offers a unique opportunity to bring together leading experts and experienced practitioners in a journey of knowledge sharing, discovery and fresh thinking. Research evidence will be tested against the reality of busy workplaces with competing priorities, while good practices in host organisations will be examined by ‘critical friends’ to explore their robustness and generalisability.

    Based on the above analysis, the Lab’s agenda begins with the following themes, forming the framework for a practical guide to positive mental health at work prepared exclusively for Lab participants. These themes may change in response to ideas, needs and input from organisations participating in the Lab.

    • Raising Awareness

      How can we diagnose the current workplace climate and assess the factors that contribute to, or undermine, positive workplace health? How to build the business case and win support for for change? And which policies should be put in place?

    • Building a Momentum for Change

      Once the right policies are in place, how do we raise awareness of mental health and improve the standard of practice throughout the organisation?

    • Line Managers: Barrier Reef or Mental Health Ambassadors?

      Training managers in mental health awareness and fostering appropriate behaviours is often necessary but what does good practice look like – and is it sufficient? How can management roles, processes and behaviours be rethought to support positive mental health and high performance simultaneously?

    • Rethinking Job Design and Work Organisation

      We know that empowered workers are healthier and perform better – but what does this mean for the redesign of individual jobs, teams and organisational structures?

    • Leading People-Centred Change

      What is the role of leaders in promoting positive mental health at work? How are they persuaded to become visible champions of change? And how does the definition of leadership itself change?

    How it works

    • The Opening Workshop. This highly interactive event combines insights and knowledge from leading experts with opportunities for participants to learn from each other and share practical experience. Expert contributors include Professor Stavroula Leka (University of Nottingham), a leading work psychologist with expertise in psychosocial risk management and promoting mental health in the workplace; and Professor Steven Dhondt (TNO, Netherlands), an international expert in job design and quality of working life.
    • Three full-day company-hosted visits (with optional dinner on the previous evening). Visits provide participants with opportunities to learn from the host company’s good practices, to meet a wide cross-section of employees and to act as ‘critical friends’ in addressing current challenges and dilemmas. Expert contributions and facilitation further enhance each visit.
    • A closing session focusing on ‘what are the lessons?’ What have we learned from the Lab to date, and how can we translate our findings into practical ways of building better jobs and workplaces that actively contribute to mental well-being?
    • Continuing dialogue with other Lab participants through membership of Fresh Thinking Labs Online, the international platform dedicated to sharing good practice within the workplace. Members benefit from bespoke introductions to other companies with similar interests, online forums, a programme of Open Events  on a wide range of key workplace topics and access to a growing body of learning resources.
    The Labs will be facilitated by:

    Professor Peter Totterdill, Director of Workplace Innovation Europe, an international organisation committed to sharing and developing good practice in the workplace. He has more than 25 years’ experience of helping create high performing workplaces through research and practical support for organisations. Peter is an expert advisor to the European Commission and to national and regional governments internationally.

    Richard Frost, Lead at Mindful Employer, an NHS initiative providing businesses and organisations across the UK with easier access to information and support for staff who experience stress, anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions.

    Professor Stephen Bevan, Head of HR Research Development at the Institute of Employment Studies, is also an advisor to the government, winner of a special award from GAMIAN-Europe for his contribution to mental health, former Director at the Work Foundation and founding president of the Fit for Work Europe Coalition.

    Contact us for further details. Download the Flyer

    Joining the Good Work and Mental Well-Being Lab gives you automatic membership of Fresh Thinking Labs, the International Open Source Platform for Workplace Innovation. Membership provides access to a growing international community of enterprises including an online forum and personalised introductions to others based on shared interests and experience:

    With Novozymes, the Danish Technological Institute and Fresh Thinking Labs + special guests including IKEA, Hitachi, Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies, VELUX, ISS and Nosco

    **Book before 31st January to receive a 10% discount on the registration fee**

    Innovative organisations and businesses are increasingly creating value through collaboration; using new methodologies and technologies to draw on the collective intelligence and creativity not only of their employees, but also other organisations, and society more widely. Do you want to learn how to maximise and leverage the potential of collaboration for your own organisation, using the latest thinking and best practices from across Europe? Join us at this two-day event for an immersive, hands-on approach to collaborative workplace innovation, which will provide you with insight-based inspiration to take back to your own organisation.

    What’s on the programme?

    Be inspired by the creative and entrepreneurial atmosphere of Copenhagen as we immerse ourselves into an intensive 2-day program covering:

    •    Ideation Platforms: Online and In Person
    •    Corporate Social Innovation
    •    Design Thinking for workplaces of the future
    •    Incubators: strategic and operational perspectives
    •    Enterprise Social Networks
    •    Service innovation
    . . . and much more!

    This highly interactive and stimulating event will include hands-on learning sessions and workshops, expert perspectives, TED-style talks, panel debates, training in the use of collective innovation tools, and facilitated reflection sessions with peers. We will network, learn and practice how we can make our workplaces more collaborative and engaged to create innovations that excite our clients and customers.

    Who should join?

    This event is open to companies, organisations and practitioners with an interest in building workplaces that are innovative, collaborative and future-focused.

    Already a member of Fresh Thinking Labs? Get in touch with us to register for this event:

    Why Copenhagen?

    Denmark’s capital, at the heart of the greater Øresund region, is known as an ‘innovation hotspot’, home to some of the world’s most innovative and creative companies with strengths in the biotech, information technology, design, and shipping industries.

    Denmark is also home to The Danish Technological Institute, a national hub for innovation development, entrepreneurship and technological skills, which will be our venue on Day 1. The DTI serves Danish society and customers as well as clients from around the globe.

    The city’s former Meatpacking District, which will be our venue on day 2, is today bustling with start-ups, incubators and innovation labs. Participants will have opportunities to explore this fascinating area of Copenhagen including over dinner and drinks on the evenings before the event, and after the first day.

    Find out more and sign up!

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