OUR WORK

Energy is at the heart of everything we do. We bring energy into your organisation with fresh thinking, new ideas and our unique approach.

FINDING YOUR PURPOSE: Cawston Press

“We’re saving soft drinks.” This was the moment Cawston Press nailed their ‘why’. Cawston have a rich heritage and an unshakeable passion for incredible soft drinks. Managing Director Steve Kearns wanted one story for his team to get behind. He wanted his team “to ride in a peloton.” To get behind that one story and travel quicker, more effectively and more efficiently.

How did we help this team? We ran two workshops. In our first workshop, with the Board, we listened to their stories and got a sense of their energy and focus. We took this learning and crafted an intensive two-day event with the wider team. Using a variety of creative activities, we coaxed, cajoled and cracked their precise ‘why’ and helped each person find their connection to it.

CULTURE: The Clorox Company

This 105-year-old company is looking to stay ahead of the competition, to drive sustainable growth and continue its legacy for another century. We worked with Clorox’s Talent and Culture Team to design a bespoke workshop which helped drive ‘bolder’ behaviours and actions across the company.

The two-day immersive experience took teams of up to 45 people through a unique journey. Together, teams explored what it meant to be ‘bold’, to them personally and professionally. Groups also discovered how embracing a bolder workplace culture would achieve business success. This signature program ran more than 40 times across the world and met with unprecedented positive reviews. The Bold experience continues to support more than 1300 employees.

THINKING DIFFERENTLY: Wm Grant & Sons

We’ve been brought in to inspire and transform people’s thinking around Hendricks Gin and House of Hazelwood Whisky.  Whether it’s the search for new avenues of innovation, or testing a brand positioning and exploring where to take the category, we provided a wealth of different starting points to help these teams think more broadly and more boldly.

William Grant give us the latitude to bring in experts in many fields.  A perfumer, a visualiser, a chocolate-maker, a chef and a wordsmith have all featured in our workshops.  All have played a specific role in unlocking ideas and helping to take people to places they couldn’t have imagined and taking their brands forward.

COMMUNICATION: Unilever Media Team

GOOD MORNING, GOOD AFTERNOON, GOOD EVENING AND GOOD NIGHT!

How do you link up a worldwide team in a way that really connects, inspires and engages? Think Live Virtual Broadcast.

This is what we do with Unilever’s Global Media team twice a year. Bringing together the worlds of TV production, Skype and live webcasts, we craft an agenda with the leaders. We engage a cross-section of the global team to host and deliver parts of the broadcast. We coach presenters how to tell stories that captivate people’s attention and we bring to life key messages with supporting films, quizzes, polls and Q&A sessions.

COMMUNICATION: Innocent Drinks

The people at Innocent Drinks are nice people and it was our delight to take a call from the Banana Phone (they really do have one) and put together a special training workshop for Office Manager, Charlie Heavey.

Charlie wanted a fun course where her team could develop their communication skills. An avid painter herself, she was intrigued to use our ‘arts-based’ learning approach.

Using a glorious fruit bowl (with pineapple) we led a series of drawing and painting activities which allowed the group to experience first-hand their different communication styles and how each of them could improve. The result? Real understanding, real learning and real change. As well as four new paintings hanging on the walls of Fruit Towers.

COMMUNICATION: The Art Of Listening

Richard Mullender knows how to listen. Or, more accurately, Richard learned to listen on the job. And that job was as a hostage and crisis negotiator. Listening is one of the skills you never get taught and it is critical. It’s critical in relationships and it’s critical in business. Richard’s unique perspective makes his courses a much sought after session:

“My reason for teaching listening skills is to transfer what I’ve learned through hostage negotiation into every walk of life. If you listen properly, and I mean properly, you’ll find out very quickly what makes that person tick and what they need from you. The key is to understand the other person’s values.”

SKILLS DEVELOPMENT: Askonas Holt

What does it take to be a great classical music agent?  How do you learn to balance the constant demands of work with the importance of your own life? We worked with one of the best classical music agencies in the world, to design and deliver bespoke workshops for the team.

Facing unique challenges, we created a range of interactive courses for this vibrant company. We used a team-based approach where we encouraged peers to learn from each other. We also invited senior leader members to lunch as part of the workshops, which allowed them to share their expertise with the emerging Assistants and Artist Managers, helping to pass on their experience.

INSPIRATION: Danone

We were given the challenge of inspiring a group of marketers from around the world, during an off-site conference. We were given the themes of naturality, sustainability, collaboration and their role in transformation. Working with a group of specially selected craftsmen and women, we transformed the hotel conference room (our venue for the evening and the conference) into a tropical rainforest.

On the way, groups explored their own personal experiences and attitudes to change with a mask-making workshop. We partnered with Thomas Matthews, communication designers, to make art from discarded ocean plastic and the group learned about the transformative impact of plants with the expert help of Conservatory Archives. The result? An evening to ignite the group’s commitment to sustainable, change – both in their markets and in the world.

INNOVATION: Scottish Waterways Trust

How do you re-imagine your business model, future-proof your business and stay true to your mission? Scottish Waterways Trust knows the world is changing, and it has ambitious plans to grow and extend its reach. To do this the Trust needs a sustainable way of generating income, a move which heralds a shift in mind-set for the organisation.

We ran an innovation workshop with leaders, Board members and key partners from the Trust. By the end of the session, we’d discovered over 50 potential streams of income with plans to develop four ‘big ticket’ items. A balance between innovation and action – this is the first step in a bright future for Scottish Waterways Trust.

INNOVATION: DiGging for new insights

Rapid prototyping is a technique designed to get lots of ideas on the table and enable a team to iteratively work up the best ones. As the Persil/Dirt is Good (DiG) team began their search for fresh ideas to new products, they asked us to stage two workshops, using this process, to disrupt their thinking.

Critical to rapid prototyping is the inclusion of carefully selected external experts into the mix. We brought in a Seamstress, a Visualiser, a Professor in Storytelling, a Wordsmith and an Illustrator. Working alongside the core Persil team, fresh challenges, reference points and questions emerged. The process is highly creative - there’s always a new way of looking at an old problem.

INNOVATION: Unilever Art Collection

Unilever's contemporary art collection is having a reboot, all in aid of 'doing business better'. For the world's second biggest advertiser, this means boosting their creative thinking on a daily basis. 'Be Kind, Rewind' is a fun, fresh and unusual art project designed to get people to use the art collection more pro-actively. Installed in their London Head Office, this project involves vintage Sony Walkmans and a series of reflective commentaries sitting alongside specific art works, narrated by senior staff.

Claire Tunstall, Head of Art, Archive and Records Management at Unilever, was tasked by CMCO Keith Weed to make the art collection work harder. Paintings now act as stimulus - mini masterclasses - in looking, visualising, storytelling, imagining.

CULTURE CHANGE: Burt’s Bees

Burt’s Bees had a challenge. Acquired by Clorox in 2007, the time had come to integrate Burt’s unique ‘Bee-haviors’ and values with those of Clorox. The Burt’s leadership team asked us to guide them through this journey. Their mandate: help us retain the ‘essence of Burt’s’ and be an authentic part of the Clorox business.

We took 35 people from across the Burt’s business on an exploration of meaning: What does it mean to work for Burt’s today? What do Clorox’s values mean for us? What are our culture stories?

One outcome was the Burt’s Bees Culture Card. Beautifully designed by the in-house creative team. This little postcard attracts a lot of attention: “I was impressed how seamlessly the business and brand purpose works together, how the strategy supports it, and the high premium they put on a culture that supports it.” said Eric Reynolds, CMO of Clorox on a recent visit.

CULTURE CHANGE: Burt’s Bees Marketing Studios

Changing the way you work is a big deal. People need to see the value to them as well as to the business. There must be a consistency of message and action. Ownership is key. The marketing function at Burt’s Bees is moving to a new model – less silo-ed, more collaborative, collective, consumer-focused, less process-driven.

We worked with Head of Marketing Mariah Eckhardt, and devised a ‘retreat’ for the whole studio. Our theme was ‘Bringing Yourself into Focus’.

As they work together more closely they wanted to understand the widest range of their skills and experience and know when to share and use these. In turn, they needed to get to know each other's strengths so they could tap into this expertise more regularly.

CULTURE CHANGE: The Phoenix Group

How can an Artist help you see your own business better? Stephen Jefford, HR Director at The Phoenix Group shares his experience of inviting Anna (the artist) into their Glasgow office.

“I wanted a game changer. Something a tad dramatic that celebrated the employee at work. We weren't particularly glamorous, nor indeed did our employees find their working environment glamorous, so would Anna address this? Yes.”

”Creativity is one of the few home runs of competitive advantage and most managers are not blessed in this regard - or at least they think they are not creative. Anna’s work triggered ideas about creativity and acted as a catalyst to have a conversation about what it could mean for our business.”

CULTURE CHANGE: Unilever Catalyst Programme

The Catalyst programme is one of the most successful examples of art and business partnerships. Alastair was invited by James Hill and Keith Weed, chairmen of two of Unilever’s UK businesses, to establish a programme to fuel a more enterprising and creative culture as the businesses merged.

Catalyst showed people: what’s possible within themselves (exploring creative potential), within teams (building a collective experience), and within the company (by challenging the unsaid). It is now credited as being one of the most advanced, strategic, creative initiatives undertaken by a business.

TEAM DEVELOPMENT: Worldpay

What was more memorable? Watching the Head of Corporate Marketing learn to breakdance (learn a new skill in three minutes) or a Crisis and Hostage Negotiator reveal the secrets of elite listening? We’ve been working with Worldpay’s Partnerships & Marketing team over the last three years to craft team days that energise, educate and connect.

Getting 60+ people together is time and money well spent. When else do you review strategy and get to really understand its context? When do you share each teams’ achievement and celebrate success? When do you connect people, build business relationships and introduce new members?

We push the limits of what you can achieve in a day by identifying a theme (e.g. listening, impact, innovation) and crafting an agenda to match. We find guests to educate and challenge and we coach all the presenters and provide formal feedback as part of their personal development.

TEAM DEVELOPMENT: Givaudan

The Flavours team at Givaudan, led by Oana Ocico, had a goal: to once again be a major supplier of flavours to Unilever across its signature food brands. We produced a three-day meeting in London to kick-start that journey. There was a lot at stake.

Fast-forward three years and Givaudan are back on the rostra, pitching for the best business. That original workshop has been cited by the team as being instrumental in changing the mindset and mentality of the team. It galvanised their vision, confidence, energy and ambition.

“It was hugely rewarding to see that everyone took with them not just a weeks’ experience but a thread to guide them in these three years.” - Oana Ocico.

TEAM DEVELOPMENT: The Body Shop

How do you get a new team working together quickly and brilliantly? That was the challenge the International Creative Director at The Body Shop faced. We were asked to facilitate a session which sparked people’s creativity in a new light – how to be a better performing team.

Activities included visual thinking, creative writing and metaphors to spark a team identity (e.g. ‘if our team were an animal it would be…’). Every exercise increased the team’s awareness of who they were and where they wanted to go. Crucially, the event gave the team the time and space to think. The team listened to what was important to one another, what generated and sapped their energy. By the end of the day, they were committed to supporting one another and ‘upping their game’ back in the office.

CULTURE: Zurich Group

We have partnered with this large insurance company on many occasions. One of our earliest projects was to guide a strategy team through their vision of a ‘customer-centric’ business – and what this could mean to the company. This also involved coaching and preparing the group to present their findings to the Executive Board. We were asked to be part of their ‘learning week’ and delivered a series of arts-based learning sessions (including ‘Picasso and his Bulls’) to their staff.

We also frequently support the UK Marketing Team as they explore what it means to be a leader in the business. We co-design and facilitate these off-sites which develop the skills and awareness required to lead in an ever-changing industry as well as helping these employees to create a career which promotes their own personal well-being and striking the right balance between life and work.

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT: Unilever Global Media

If people are at the heart of everything you do, bring them together for a few days of collective inspiration, stimulation and learning. That’s what Unilever’s Global Media team have been doing for several years.

We've been developing and staging their top 50 directors' conferences in locations as varied as Bangalore and Barcelona, New York and Singapore, San Francisco and Montreux. These events inspire with speakers as diverse as Scott Galloway and Agapi Stassinopoulos. We bring the team together with key business partners in Google, YouTube, Apple, Twitter and Instagram.

We weave together presentations, speakers, learning sessions and working sessions. The team walks away with actionable deliverables and valuable insights into their industry.

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT: Unilever CMCO Team

When an explorer, a supermodel, a storyteller, an aspiring astronaut and a Tourette’s hero walk on stage...you’re having an extraordinary evening. And that’s exactly what Unilever's CMCO, Keith Weed, and his team experienced.

With a theme of ‘Transformation’ we co-created an event which got people talking, listening and thinking deeply about change at a global, local and personal level. The discussion and insights shared by these very different characters, provoked a mindset shift that had not been seen before.

Those in the audience knew they had experienced something special. The energy and enthusiasm the event generated was palpable and that’s why we do what we do.

"IF THE TRUTH CAN BE TOLD SO AS TO BE UNDERSTOOD. . .

...IT WILL BE BELIEVED"-  Terence McKenna