Along with some others from Made by Many, I was in Malmö in August to attend The Conference which, yes, is a conference about complexity in the digital era. There was a lot of talk about empathy at this event, which moved me to write this piece looking at how (and indeed if) empathy should be commoditised into business, as it is, increasingly, today. Are we reaching “peak empathy” and will “Big Empathy” be a thing soon, like Big Oil, or Big Data? It’s a question worth asking.
Speaking of empathy, under the auspices of my work at Made by Many I’m also volunteering as storyteller with a project called Minds@Work, which aims to break the stigma attached to mental illness in the workplace. Minds@Work is led by Geoff Macdonald (ex- of Unilever) and MxM managing partner Georgie Mack, along with my colleague Camilla Upson. The group meets every couple of months and is fast turning into a really effective network-cum-working party dedicated to making positive change in the place where it often matters the most – the workplace. At the last event, I invited the author Amy Liptrot (whose memoir on addiction, recovery and the natural world “The Outrun” is deservedly a bestseller now) to be interviewed by my friend the writer Emma Warren. Amy and Emma proved to be the star turn of that particular meetup. If you’d like to know more about Minds@Work, or get involved, take a look at the site I built, with no small thanks due to the blisteringly hot web design skills of Made by Many’s Adam Morris.
Over July and September I also worked as coach for personal and professional development with the young people at James Hilhouse and Susie Burdekin’s Commercial Break programme, pulling apart (and then reassembling) ideas around success, DIY creative, responsibility, proactivity and so on, with Stefan, Esther, Nai, Zahrah, Violet and Charlie. I’m sure these talented young people will go on to do great things, in the advertising industry as well as outside of it. We all went for lunch at the end of the programme, and Stefan (third from left in the picture, who is also a rapper and American football player) easily won the eating competition.
If you are interesting in my coaching & mentoring work, get int touch via kb [at] permitfullexpression.com
Earlier this year at Made by Many, I edited a report on innovation labs: departments in big businesses which are trying to turn their legacy-shaped ships around to embrace innovation in the digital era. Many companies are trying to do this, with limited success. This report raises some of the important questions in the field. A sequel to the report, to be published by Made by Many, is in the works. Download the first volume here.
Lastly, here's a visual diary of the last four seasons, showing photos from some of the places I have visited in the last 12 months, including Somerset, Shropshire, Dartmoor, Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Snowdonia, Malmö, Le Gers and the Pyrenees.