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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!

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

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

Date: Monday, 7th November 2016

Times: 12.00 for 13.00 (with lunch and a gallery tour) – 17.00
New Art Exchange, Nottingham, NG7 6BE

People leading change in different organisations benefit enormously from exchanging ideas and experience of ‘what works’ (and what doesn’t), by sharing problems and solutions, and by acting as ‘critical friends’ to each other.  This half-day workshop offers a rare opportunity to discover how a growing number of companies are transforming their working practices and culture in ways that lead to real improvements in productivity, performance, engagement and well-being. You will have a unique opportunity to assess workplace practices and culture in your company against some of the best examples in Europe, and to identify positive opportunities for innovation and improvement.

Over four hours this interactive workshop will:

• Examine the business case for ’workplace innovation’ as well as its impact on employee health and well-being
• Explore core workplace practices that lead to high performance and high quality of working life
• Identify international examples of good practice through short films and case studies
• Hear a stimulating in-person case study of engagement in the Lindum Group by its General Manager Warren Glover
• Enable participants to evaluate current workplace practices in their own companies and identify priorities for change and improvement
• Provide opportunities for participants to share ideas and experiences with each other
• Access a rich database of learning resources.

Attendees will also discover Fresh Thinking Labs, the international open source movement for workplace innovation, combining state of the art Online interaction with In Person opportunities for knowledge sharing. Fresh Thinking Labs is for everyone looking for ideas and practical support, building one-to-one and group relationships. It facilitates collaboration and knowledge sharing between members with common interests and challenges.

This interactive workshop will be led by Professor Peter Totterdill and Rosemary Exton from Workplace Innovation, the international not-for-profit organisation committed to spreading good practice in the workplace.

The workshop will begin with an introduction to the New Art Exchange and a gallery tour from 12.00, followed by lunch from 12.30.

Please note that up to two places per company are available at this event depending on availability, so please forward this invitation to a colleague to apply for the second place.

Find out more and apply here.

Launching Fresh Thinking Labs means an array of opportunities for the first wave of members to meet In Person and Online, build relationships, share experiences and create Communities.

Fresh Thinking Lab partners are currently working on the following Open Events and the programme will be further extended in coming weeks.

When and where Theme
Bristol UK
5th-6th October 2016
Employee-Driven Innovation
and devolved decision-making
Hosted by Saint-Gobain in its new FabLab
December 2016
Self-managed teams and empowerment Hosted by a leading Scottish company
February 2017
Employee-Driven Innovation
and ideation platforms
Hosted by a leading Danish research institute
April 2017
Empowerment in the workplace Hosted by two leading Basque companies
June 2017
Flat management structures Hosted by a leading Dutch company

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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