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We're delighted to invite you to the launch of our Open Event programme, to be hosted by Fresh Thinking Labs Founder Member Saint-Gobain at its new Bristol FabLab on 5th-6th October 2016.

Saint-Gobain, an advanced manufacturing company, was founded in 1665 and employs over 200,000 people worldwide. The Bristol plant has built a powerful approach to self-managed teamworking and employee-driven innovation, supported by a senior management team highly committed both to sharing their experiences and to learning from other leading companies. Its FabLab, opened in 2016, exemplifies the company’s belief in releasing the creativity and knowledge of its entire workforce. Read the article by Tom Francis, Saint-Gobain's Business Manager, here.

Themes for exploration and discussion identified by Saint-Gobain include:

How do you link employee driven innovation with customer focussed innovation?
How do you balance employee-driven innovation with the daily running of the business?
And how can you devolve effective decision-making in complex organisations?

Other themes will be identified by participants.

This highly interactive event will include:

• an immersive exploration of Saint-Gobain's philosophy and its approach to employee engagement and empowerment;
• sharing experience and practice with Saint-Gobain’s senior team and staff as “critical friends”;
• open forums to share issues and challenges identified by participants;
• "Talking Circles" with experts including leading international experts on high involvement innovation Professor John Bessant, Dr Penny Tamkin, and Professor Peter Totterdill.

The event will also launch the In Person Lab on Employee-Driven Innovation, a programme of company-hosted meetings for a closed group of members.

Practical stuff

The event begins with lunh at 12.30 on Wednesday 5th ending at 14.00 after lunch on Thursday 6th October 2016. Accommodation and a Networking Dinner will be booked for delegates in a nearby hotel (extra cost £200).

This event is open to members of Fresh Thinking Labs.

Company Standard membership starts at £750 / €950 per annum and provides you with 2 Member Accounts. It includes one place at each Fresh Thinking Labs Open Event as well as access to our state of the art Online platform and learning resources;

Company Plus at £1800 / €2200 per annum provides you with 10 Member Accounts and gives you three places at each Fresh Thinking Labs Open Event as well as the benefits enjoyed by Company Standard Members;

Company Premier at £5000 / €7000 per annum enhances these benefits by offering up to 20 Member Accounts, five places at each Fresh Thinking Labs Open Event and free access to all In Person Labs.

Places are limited! Please apply by emailing telling us your full name, email address, company and company website, and which category of membership you are interested in. We will then be in touch with confirmation, and more details about how to pay.

What is workplace innovation? And how do you create a system of working practices that leads to high performance and high quality of working life?

The Essential Fifth Element was created precisely to help organisations of all types answer these questions. It builds on in-depth analysis of literally hundreds of research articles and case studies, as well as on much practical experience of stimulating and supporting workplace innovation.

Business and organisations looking to enhance the quality of their leadership practices, improve employee engagement and strengthen job design and teamworking can now benefit from a free on-line diagnostic tool based on The Essential Fifth Element, to help them assess their workplace innovation progress.... more

On Tuesday 23rd August 2016, the Workplace Innovation team teamed up with the Danish Technological Institute (DTI) at its campus just outside Copenhagen, to offer a Fresh Thinking Labs roadshow to 15 companies. Participants from diverse industries including aerospace, defence, engineering, mobile technologies - and even a chocolate machine manufacturer! - gathered for this interactive event.

The DTI is a self-owned, not-for-profit organisation which works to develop and support the Danish business community, while offering benefits to society at large, through a combination of development projects, entrepreneur support activities, and collaboration with leading research and educational institutions. Members of Fresh Thinking Labs can find the the Danish Technological Institute, and connect with its members, via our Companies page.

Professor Peter Totterdill and Rosemary Exton from Workplace Innovation introduced The Essential Fifth Element to participants, as a means of describing the enabling, responsive and innovative culture that is so deeply embedded in some organisations, and sharing practical learning about how to achieve workplace innovation. Extensive research evidence demonstrates the benefits of workplace innovation in terms not only of organisational productivity and employee engagement but also its transformative effect on employee health and wellbeing.

The question clearly followed: if workplace innovation carries such benefits, why are companies and organisations everywhere not doing it? What blocks innovation happening, and how can organisations tackle these obstacles?

We looked at some case studies of innovative companies across Europe including Ederfil Becker, British Geological Survey, and Bristan and reflected on the practical methods these companies have employed to achieve both high performance and high quality of working life.

Participants shared experiences of "irritating obstacles" as well as inspiring practices from their own organisations, before individually completing a paper diagnostic to assess their organisation's practices holistically through the lens of The Essential Fifth Element.

Some key 'catalysts' for workplace innovation were explore: namely, trust, experimentation, resourcing, and dialogue. Fresh Thinking Labs was introduced as a way to stimulate the latter by sharing experiences, good practices, challenges and questions with organisations on similar journeys.

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