The circus comes to Engineers Without Borders

Imagineering was the title of the 2011 Engineers Without Borders Conference, rounding off the Year of Humanitarian Engineering with a celebration of innovative engineering aid in developing countries.  There was also space for sharing best practice and reflecting how we can do more.

I opened my presentation with a handstand.    It was spontaneous and yet not without motive – we were in the carbohydrate slump slot forty-five minutes after lunch and shifting the energy was critical if I wanted to keep my audience with me.  So I got them moving, I did a handstand and we knew we were going to do things differently.  This presentation was about seeing problems through new eyes so as to find creative solutions with a more positive social impact.

Continue reading “The circus comes to Engineers Without Borders”

Through the eyes of a clown: the art of facilitation

A Perth version of Clowning for Facilitators will be running on January 12.  For a word that wasn’t in use not so many years ago, facilitator gets bandied around a bit.  In this workshop we use the art of Clown to get you, the facilitator or communicator, connected with the intangible part of your work.  How do you develop your ability to read the energy in the room and convince a bunch of engineers or bankers that drawing a picture of a tree on yet another post-it note really is worth their while?  How do you develop the confidence that you will get your group wherever they need to be – even when things seem to be going completely wrong? Continue reading “Through the eyes of a clown: the art of facilitation”

Engineers v. entrepreneurs: the great impro-off

Every played at improvisation? These are the exercises actors use to be able to create whole performances from scratch on the spot.Improvisation in companies takes those exercises and applies them to building skills which help improve business performance.On the surface, it looks like a facilitator having you running around and playing games to stimulate your creativity and capacity for complete ridiculousness. What it actually does is help you practise bringing more of your great ideas to your company. Continue reading “Engineers v. entrepreneurs: the great impro-off”

The hidden cost of cheap air travel (The Times and moi sort of agree)

What air travel will never offer - buskers and drunken dancing
What air travel will never offer - buskers and drunken pole dancing

I got excited when I saw The Times had a double page story on the hidden cost of cheap air travel.  ‘At last!’ I rejoiced, ‘The world has seen sense.  A £30 flight to Mallorca doesn’t justify the damage to the Earth.  Train travel will be embraced, prices reduced so it’s accessible to all, and the world will be saved!’.

As you may have already intuited, this wasn’t QUITE the angle this particular Times journalist was taking.  No, the hidden costs include such outrageous-ness as extra fees if you make a mistake with your booking etc. etc. etc.  (To be honest, I didn’t read the whole thing – hence vagueness.)

A few pages later I read an editorial ruminating that bargain flights have taken the luxury out of travel.   In 2009, a vacation abroad starts with queues, the RyanAir experience and wearing three coats so your hand luggage looks smaller.  A call to old times, the writer begged!

I personally prefer trains to planes (though getting to London from Oz sort of required a plane).  It’s easier; there’s more space (a necessity rather than a luxury when you’re nearly 6ft); train stations are fun; you get to see the countryside; and I can pretend I’m Julie Delpy in Before Sunrise.  You don’t have to pretend to listen to the safety message; and you don’t have to be scared by the implications of the safety message.  The environmental benefit is an added extra.

I like what The Times is saying (since it agrees with me!).  Perhaps we’ll put a bit more thought into our holidays.  Jetting off for just a weekend will be a bit too much hassle.  We will learn to slow down and take a train or boat and the journey there will be part of the adventure.

Bit like the financial crisis showed us that striving for continuous growth not only has fundamental economic weaknesses, but isn’t too great for the planet either.

Read about low carbon travel at and seat 61.  (Nope, I don’t work for either of them!)

Capitalism is the new activism: big business and media lead the way to social and environmental change

Late last year I had the pleasure of meeting with Sophie Tranchell, Managing Director of Divine Chocolate  and an activist at heart. Armed with management experience in the film industry, Sophie arrived at Divine ready to merge her passion for social transformation with good business sense, understanding that the market has the power to bring about massive change and that creativity and communications are the key to people’s hearts. Continue reading “Capitalism is the new activism: big business and media lead the way to social and environmental change”