User blogs

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!

Fresh Thinking Labs brings together companies and other organisations from across Europe to learn from each other about creating high performing, innovative and healthy workplaces.

Our  programme offers opportunities to share practical experiences with people leading change in a diverse, international range of organisations, and to learn from leading European experts about what really works.

The focus is on releasing the creativity and talent of people throughout the organisation, enabling employees to contribute actively  and systematically  to innovation and improvement in products, services and processes. Employee-Driven Innovation is a bottom-up approach which empowers people, to reflect on past experiences and future challenges, to ask difficult questions, to learn from diverse places and to take part in creative dialogue with a wide range of other stakeholders.

Being part of the programme gives you automatic membership of Fresh Thinking Labs, providing you with access to a growing international community of enterprises Fresh Thinking Labs members benefit from:

  • Personal introductions to other members by experienced international facilitators.
  • Online search and matching based on your interests and expertise.
  • Live knowledge-sharing forums and Sofinars on member-identified themes.
  • In Person Labs: small, closed groups exploring a specific issue together.
  • Sharing and developing good practice through facilitated workplace visits.
  • Unique resources including research evidence, case studies and practical tools.
  • Workshops and company-hosted events for all Fresh Thinking Labs members.

Individual rate €350 / £300. Participation in events and the online platform for twelve months.

Corporate rate on application

Join the Fresh Thinking Labs Programme here


Upcoming Events


TBC
Arnhem, Netherlands

Flat, agile and world class

Learn from experts how Dutch companies are achieving competitive success through versatile and adaptive working practices. You’ll also see these principles in action in two innovative SMEs.

October
Cork, Ireland

Leadership for Workplace Innovation

A deep dive into the principles and practice of workplace innovation as a route to high performance and employee engagement.

November
Stockholm, Sweden

Workplace Innovation & the Digital Economy

International experts and leading Swedish companies (including Astra Zeneca and Scania) sharing latest thinking and practice, including two company visits.


Any questions?

Contact us at info@freshthinkinglabs.com


What they say about us


What we’ve seen today is that the Fresh Thinking Labs concept has helped us get a pretty good picture of what we’re actually trying to do. Sometimes we try to tackle stuff without knowing exactly what the problem is. So what I’ve found today is that the questioning from all the different organisations has given some clarity to our thinking. They ask ‘what exactly is your problem? We don’t understand it so what makes you think you understand it.’

This makes us really think about what we are doing, what we are trying to achieve and what our problem is.

Tom Francis, Saint Gobain


Today has been absolutely brilliant. Fresh Thinking Labs is about interaction and the whole concept of bringing businesses together to share their experiences in this way is ground-breaking and invaluable.

Herman Kok, Lindum Group


I think the Fresh Thinking Labs concept is incredibly important because if you only rely on your own company and the people in your own organisation, then you’re very limited as to how you are going to develop innovation and engagement.

Coming together with other companies helps you recognise that we have similar problems and challenges. In some case other companies have actually tackled a problem you’ve got, and come up with a solution that may have taken you months or even years to resolve. Getting together and sharing ideas has real value, real benefits.

Malcolm Bond, Rittal CSM


The power of events of this nature is that you are exposed to things you wouldn’t normally be exposed to. It reminds you that if you only act on what you already know, you’ll never change. The concept of Fresh Thinking Labs exposes you to new ways of applying different thinking to the organisation and that’s the real power of it. I have learned a lot today – much more than I anticipated when I first arrived.

Jeremy Ling, Bristan Group


Fresh Thinking Labs provides an amazing opportunity for individuals to get together, share what they’re doing and have the chance to think outside of work. Taking that step back, reflecting and being able to bounce ideas off others is invaluable. There’s lots of things I’ve already taken away after just one session.

It’s easy to think that you’re the only one going through these challenges when actually a lot of us have similar things going on, similar ideas and we all want to progress. The opportunity to compare different perspectives and bounce ideas around is invaluable.

Mary Lester, Nottingham City Council


It’s good to see that other businesses have exactly the same challenges and to be able to collectively solve the problems that we’re facing. There’s a wealth of knowledge around that we can access and help each other out.

Tom Francis, Business Manager, Saint-Gobain


It’s really nice to have a group of organisations coming together to share things that have happened in our workplaces. Even if they’re different, there are commonalities that we can learn from.

Natalie Wilkie, Innovation Team, The Met Office


We’ve built a good community of people who share what they’ve got and know that they’re not alone in facing the challenges they have in their own companies.

Mark Wightman, Head of Development, Red Gate Software


While taking part in the lastest and most challenging Fresh Thinking Lab with GE Mining, I was asked what I got out of participating in the event, which was a great question and one that caused me to reflect on the whole event. For me it is all about Personal Development. By applying my Experience, Knowledge and Beliefs to a different organisation I must analyse and examine the issues from the point of first principle. In doing so we inevitably reflect on the application and effectiveness of those aspects within our own organisation. Testing what we believe we know to be true refines our understanding leading to continual improvement; every day is a learning day.

Warren Glover Head of Employee Wellbeing and Development, Lindum Group Ltd


We wanted a WOW factor and you’ve certainly delivered that!

Tony Williams, Executive Director of People, Orbit Group


From a personal point of view I found Peter and Rosemary very easy to work with and their knowledge of the workplace is exceptional. They were always there to help, guide and point us in the right direction.

Irene Emery, Customer Services Director, Pendragon Contracts


Our collaboration with Professor Totterdill and his colleagues proved to be inspired. Professor Totterdill filled the role of Masterclass facilitator with what seemed like effortless ease, thanks to a thorough grasp of the subject matter, a warm and engaging style of interacting with the audience, and a thoroughly professional approach to planning and preparation.

Lucy Fallon-Byrne, Director, National Centre for Partnership and Performance, Ireland


I highly recommend Peter and his team to anyone wanting to inspire and educate people about how to manage change well in organisations.

Sharon Darwent, Head of Employee Engagement, BT

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 info@freshthinkinglabs.com 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: info@freshthinkinglabs.com


    Workplace Innovation Europe CLG, Fresh Thinking Labs and Mindful Employer are delighted to launch the Good Work and Mental Well-Being Lab in association with with Macmillan Cancer Support, Jacobs, TNO, the Institute for Employment Studies and other leading organisations keen to share experiences of creating positive mental health in the workplace.

    The Good Work and Mental Well-Being Lab is a closed network of organisations committed to exploring leading edge practice and identifying practical, evidence-based solutions.


    The Lab

    Enables the sharing of good practice and ideas between workplaces.

    Builds active relationships with your peers in other organisations.

    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.

    Develops practical tools and resources for workplace change.

    Provides access to expert guidance.


    Mental health problems are a huge issue affecting people and business. Statistics tell us that 1 in 5 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, 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 productive and engaging work.

    Get in touch for more information


    The Programme


    Here is our unique programme of opportunities to learn, share and be part of fresh thinking:

    2017 - 2018

    Opening Symposium

    5th-6th December 2017

    Nottingham
    An evening introduction and orientation to the programme on the 4th, followed by a highly interactive event on the 5th combining insights and knowledge from leading experts with opportunities for participants to learn about each other and to share practical experience.
    Expert contributors include:
    Stavroula Leka, Professor of Work, Health & Policy and Director of the Centre for Organisational Health & Development at the University of Nottingham. She is a Chartered Psychologist and her main interests include psychosocial risk management andthe promotion of mental health in the workplace. Stavroula is an expert advisor to the European Commission, the WHO, the ILO, the European Agency for Safety& Health at Work and the European Parliament.
    Steven Dhondt (Prof., PhD) has a doctoral degree in social sciences and is currently senior researcher at TNO and visiting professor at the University of Leuven (Belgium). His research lies in the field of work, technology and health, covering various topics such as quality of work, working conditions, technology and work, social innovation, health and well-being. One of his instruments is the WEBA assessment tool which helps to evaluate the quality of jobs and gives practical directions to improve them.www.freshthinkinglabs.com
    Stephen Bevan, Head of HR Research Development at the Institute of Employment Studies is an advisor to the government, winner of a special award from GAMIAN-Europe forhis contribution to mental health, former Director at the Work Foundation and founding president of the Fit for Work Europe Coalition.
    Macmillan Cancer Support

    Leeds

    27th-28th March 2018
    Macmillan is one of the largest British charities and provides specialist health care, information and financial support to people affected by cancer. Macmillan’s wellbeing programme looks to inspire and support health and wellbeing amongst its workforce to help ensure it achieves its goals: “We need to ensure that Macmillan’s employees are provided with an environment and opportunities that encourage and enable them to lead healthy lives and make choices that support their wellbeing. Macmillan has developed a range of approaches to address wellbeing in the workplace, drawing on research into wellbeing and based on feedback obtained from the Wellbeing Audit. This has led to the development of a range of initiatives aimed at helping staff improve their wellbeing.”
    University of Exeter

    Exeter

    13th August 2018
    Join other organisations keen to share experiences of creating positive mental health in the workplace.
    Review Macmillan Cancer Support’s approach to mental health in the workplace.
    Discover the latest research on management interventions to support mental health – and how it is influencing practice in Cornwall Council.
    Explore the University of Exeter’s approach to mental health in the workplace.
    Symposium

    Institute for Employment Studies, Brighton

    27th November
    Fresh Thinking in Innovation – hosted by the Institute for Employment Studies in Brighton, and bringing together experts and experiences from several employers across the UK and other European countries. What are the lessons and how can we translate them into positive mental health in our workplaces?

    Get in touch for more information


    How it works


    The Opening Symposium will bring participants together with leading experts to learn from the evidence and to build a shared framework for positive mental health in the workplace. It will enable Lab members to share their own experiences and to identify common challenges and opportunities that will help share the remainder of the programme.

    Two full-day company-hosted visits (with dinner on the previous evening), hosted by Macmillan and Jacobs, provide participants with opportunities to learn from the host company’s good practices, meet a cross-section of employees and work together as ‘critical friends’ to address current challenges and dilemmas. Expert contributions and facilitation further enhance each visit. Delegates receive a Case Report after visits.

    Continuing dialogue takes place between meetings on the Fresh Thinking Labs platform. A closed online Lab will enable participants to reflect on each event, share their own good practices, discuss challenges and dilemmas, and access an evolving resource bank and guide to good practice. Fresh Thinking Labs is the international platform dedicated to sharing good practice within the workplace. Participants also benefit from bespoke introductions to other Fresh Thinking Labs member 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 case studies, tools and articles for practitioners. For more information see www.freshthinkinglabs.com.

    The second Symposium will ask ‘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? It will include contributions from other leading edge-practitioners from companies in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, as well as from leading experts.

    Following the programme, we will generate a practical guide and resource pack for positive mental health at work for Lab participants.


    The Labs will be facilitated by:


    Dr Peter Totterdill, is a Founding Director of Workplace Innovation Europe CLG and a Visiting Professor at two universities. A passionate advocate of organisational practices that combine high performance and high quality of working life, Peter’s career has focused on building bridges between academic knowledge and practice. He has led successful innovation and change initiatives in a wide range of private and public sector organisations.


    Rosemary Exton, is a Founding Director of Workplace Innovation Europe CLG. Building on many years’ experience as a clinician, manager and trade unionist in the NHS, Rosemary has provided programme management, leadership and development training and support to several organisations. Rosemary gained an MA in Management and Leadership from the University of Leeds in 2008. She has published articles on workplace innovation and entrepreneurial behaviour and is a regular speaker at international conferences.


    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.


    Get in touch for more information


    About the Good Work and Mental Well-Being Lab


    The Lab offers the chance to join a unique 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.

    1. 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 change? And which policies should be put in place?

    2. 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?

    3. 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?

    4. 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?

    5. 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?


    Building Positive Mental Health through Good Work


    Contact us for further details. Download the Flyer

    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: info@freshthinkinglabs.com

    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!

    When: 12.00, Wednesday 22nd February – 14.00 Thursday 23rd February, 2017
    Where: E.ON, Annesley near Nottingham and M1 Junction 27



    We know that diverse and inclusive organisations are not only great places to work, but that they also perform much better as businesses. Extensive research evidence shows that the ‘business benefits’ of diversity and inclusion include:

    •    Better communication with and understanding of customers and clients;
    •    The ability to connect with and reflect society, including the latest consumer and market trends;
    •    Access to a diversity of perspectives, enabling a more responsive, innovative and creative workforce;
    •    Improved organisational legitimacy, image and reputation;
    •    Attraction of a wider talent pool of staff, including improved capacity to fill skills gaps;
    •    Increased employee satisfaction, retention and productivity via a positive company culture.

    While diversity and inclusion clearly create real value for businesses, many organisations have yet to translate this huge potential into reality. How can organisations meaningfully embed diversity and inclusion into their workplace practices and culture, rather than treating it as a ‘tick box exercise’?

    The host

    E.ON is one of the UK's leading power and gas companies - generating electricity, and retailing power and gas. It is part of the E.ON group, one of the world's largest investor-owned power and gas companies employing around 9,000 people in the UK.

    "Our purpose is Improving People’s Lives; our vision is to be our customers' trusted energy partner. And our values include, amongst others, ensuring that we put the customer first and act responsibly with an open mind."

    The Programme

    This Open Event will address the gap between research and practice around Diversity, Inclusion and Culture from an in-company perspective, by allowing participants to:

    •    Explore E.ON’s special take on Diversity and Inclusion including the company’s achievements and current opportunities in this area;
    •    Identify cross-cutting "problem statements" to explore with the collective insight of E.ON’s senior team and participants from other companies and organisations acting as “critical friends”;
    •    Share issues and challenges identified by participants during facilitated interactive sessions;
    •    Arrive at new and innovative ways to promote diversity and inclusion to take back to your own organisation.

    What E.ON says about the event...

    ‘E.ON has been passionate about Diversity and Inclusion for many years and has won several awards for some of our initiatives, particularly around our recruitment practices. As we think about how to progress further, we know that Diversity and Inclusion will be central to the way that our culture develops. The evidence describes the business performance uplift that Diversity and Inclusion can bring, as well as it just being “the right thing to do”.

    Yet how do you embed it into the DNA of the organisation? How do you turn the principles of Diversity and Inclusion into heartfelt action, especially in times of business challenge?
     
    During this interactive event we’ll be looking for your insights and creative thinking around Diversity and Inclusion, and will be posing some specific challenges for consideration and debate.'

    Our facilitators

    Claire Jamieson, Diversity Manager
    and Jo Horton, Corporate Responsibility Manager at E.ON,  are focused on integrating and embedding Diversity and Inclusion and how this integrates with culture across the organisation; seeing this work as a journey which takes patience and determination. Both are particularly focused on communication, education, evaluation and embedding in the organisational context.

    Professor Peter Totterdill is a Founding Director of Workplace Innovation, Visiting Professor at Kingston University London and Mykolas Romeris University Lithuania, and a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bath. A passionate advocate of organisational practices that combine high performance and high quality of working life, Peter’s career as a researcher, policy advisor and consultant has focused on building bridges between academic knowledge and practice.

    Rosemary Exton,
    is also a Founding Director of Workplace Innovation. She builds on thirty-five years’ experience as a clinician, manager and trade unionist as well as on our international portfolio of projects involving a diverse range of companies. Rosemary has provided programme management, leadership and development training, and expert support to several organisations in the private and public sectors alike.

    How to join

    This event is open to Fresh Thinking Labs Members as part of a 12-month programme of knowledge-sharing and networking Open Events included in Membership. Company Standard Membership is £750 / €900 for 12 months; further flexible pricing options are available to suit your Company’s needs.

    Find out more about Fresh Thinking Labs by watching our short animation and click the 'Sign Up' button below to start the registration process.



    Are you interested in a day rate for this event? Find out more by getting in touch with us at info@freshthinkinglabs.com


    Participants from a diverse group of 12 Basque, Belgian and UK organisations (Bristan, Convestro, CSV Diversiteit, Clarcor, Ederfil Becker, E.ON, GE Mining, Lindum, Nottingham City Council, Trinity Laban, Rittal CSM) were welcomed to Saint-Gobain’s Bristol FabLab over two days in October, 2016 for the launch Fresh Thinking Labs Open Event.

    Saint-Gobain was founded in 1665 and employs 200,000 people worldwide. The Bristol ‘Performance Plastics’ plant, which manufactures bearings for the automotive industry and other sectors, has created a powerful approach to employee-driven innovation and self-managed teams – with many striking achievements and challenges to share.



    The Open Event

     
    After an icebreaker lunch, Saint-Gobain’s Business Manager Tom Francis provided participants with ‘the big picture’ including a whistle-stop tour of the past five years from the management team’s perspective. Much of the journey, including experiments with dedicated teams for innovation, customer journeying, 'value stream mapping', cross-functional working, and agile methodologies, has been about moving from a pyramidal hierarchy to a more circular organisation where decision making power is given to those with the most amount of knowledge in that field.


    Saint-Gobain's global network of FabLabs are dedicated workshop spaces equipped with high-tech machinery including 3d printers, allowing employees from any division to “put their ideas into form”; and for the Bristol plant exemplifies just one way in which employees are being encouraged to move move away from the hierarchical psychology of obeying and seeking permission, to using initiative, creativity and passion, and being empowered to make decisions.

    Setting the wider context, Fresh Thinking Labs’ Peter Totterdill explored working practices that enable employees at every level to use and develop their full range of knowledge, experience and creativity in day-to-day work, while Professor John Bessant (University of Exeter) explained how the ‘flat, networked’ style of 21st century innovation is not only becoming increasingly important but also increasingly possible thanks to the internet and online platforms like Fresh Thinking Labs.

    The visitors joined three internal teams in reflecting on Saint-Gobain's achievements and challenges – or, as Gabriella Eberhardt of GE Mining put it, things to ‘continue or consider’. After exploring challenges from the Saint-Gobain perspective, the three groups pooled their ‘big questions’ for exploration during Open Forums on the following day.

    By lunchtime on Day 2 participants had examined ways of overcoming internal power struggles, engaging the whole workforce in innovation and improvement, and managing career progression in a flatter structure, each taking away actionable insights both from Saint-Gobain and from the other visiting companies. A full report of outcomes is available to participants.



    Participant feedback from the Saint-Gobain Open Event

    "What we’ve seen today is that the Fresh Thinking Labs concept has helped us get a pretty good picture of what we’re actually trying to do.  Sometimes we try to tackle stuff without knowing exactly what the problem is.  So what I’ve found today is that the questioning from all the different organisations has given some clarity to our thinking.  This makes us really think about what we are doing, what we are trying to achieve."

    Tom Francis, Saint Gobain

    "Today has been absolutely brilliant.  Fresh Thinking Labs is about interaction and the whole concept of bringing businesses together to share their experiences in this way is ground-breaking and invaluable."

    Herman Kok, Lindum Group

    "I think the Fresh Thinking Labs concept is incredibly important. Coming together with other companies helps you recognise that we have similar problems and challenges.  In some case other companies have actually tackled a problem you’ve got, and come up with a solution that may have taken you months or even years to resolve. Getting together and sharing ideas has real value, real benefits."

    Malcolm Bond, Rittal CSM


    “The two days were great in bringing different people from different backgrounds and different industries together. I’m a great believer in learning from each other, and the most powerful thing is when you have a problem statement, which is not even from your context – but your brain starts working, and you have some inspiration which you can take in analogy to think ‘how can I apply this to the issues, questions or challenges in our own organisation?’ It is not only ‘fresh thinking’ but refreshing!”

     

    Gabriella Eberhardt, GE Transportation – Mining

     

    "Fresh Thinking Labs provides an amazing opportunity for individuals to get together, share what they’re doing and have the chance to think outside of work. Taking that step back, reflecting and being able to bounce ideas off others is invaluable.  There’s lots of things I’ve already taken away after just one session."

    Mary Lester, Nottingham City Council


    Want to be part of our next Open Event? Join Fresh Thinking Labs to access the 2017 Open Event Programme.

     



    The Good Work and Mental Well-Being Lab


    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. Excellent support for individual employees on its own doesn’t address the underlying factors in the workplace that either promote or undermine mental well-being. Employers need to do more to fulfil their duty of care.


    Experience and research evidence accumulated over several decades shows that jobs which enable employees to exercise discretion, to work in self-organised teams, to have opportunities for learning and development, to contribute their ideas for improvement and innovation, and to have their voices heard in decisions that affect their work make organisations more productive and their workforce healthier. People are more likely to go home satisfied, feeling that they have done a good job, and this can have a significant impact on mental well-being. These practices have come to be known as ‘workplace innovation’.


    The Lab is based on a small, closed network of companies and public sector employers committed to exploring and developing future-focused workplaces that generate positive mental health and well-being for all through healthy and engaging work.


    More details here



    The Employee-Driven Innovation Lab


    Fresh Thinking Labs is delighted to launch the Employee-Driven Innovation Lab in association with four leading companies willing to share good practices and to explore the challenges involved in engaging employees at all levels in innovation and improvement.


    Innovation is popularly associated with R&D, ICT investment and high-profile entrepreneurs. However this association can be misleading. Much of the innovation in products, services and processes that leads to enhanced business competitiveness and performance is generated by interaction, dialogue and exploration within the workplace. Unsurprisingly this is more common in workplaces where employees have greater control over their own work coupled with discretionary opportunities for learning and problem solving.


    Systematic opportunities for shared learning and reflection are well embedded in these workplaces. It means the ability of employees at every level to reflect on what has gone well and what can be improved in the future, to share knowledge and skills gained in the course of recent work experience, and to anticipate and reflect on the impacts of future challenges and change. Sometimes it involves imaginative opportunities to ‘think out of the box’ by bringing people together across different departments and divisions to share knowledge and experience and to think creatively together.


    The Lab is based on a small, closed network of companies and public sector employers committed to exploring and developing future-focused workplaces that generate positive mental health and well-being for all through healthy and engaging work.


    More details here


    The Employee Representation and Direct Participation Lab


    Fresh Thinking Labs, the Involvement & Participation Association and LO Denmark are delighted to launch the The Employee Representation and Direct Participation In Person Lab in association with four leading companies willing to share good practices and to explore the challenges involved in bridging the gap between representative participation and direct participation in the workplace.


    Partnership between management, employees and trade unions can take many forms, but always requires openness, transparency and two-way communication. At the very least it can be an effective tool for positive industrial relations, minimising conflict and resistance to change.


    Yet partnership also needs to transcend the industrial relations sphere. An important body of research has begun to show that representative partnership structures on their own may have little direct impact on performance or quality of working life. Rather they can exert a positive influence on the development of activities and practices that may do so. In short, they can become the animator and guardian of employee empowerment and engagement.


    The Lab is based on a small, closed network of companies and public sector employers committed to exploring and developing workplaces that generate win-win outcomes for businesses and employees alike.


    More details here
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