Thursday 23 May 2019, Manchester

We were delighted to have Dr David Hall at our May North West PM Forum, which Freshfields kindly hosted.

The session focused on how removing blockages can unleash the power of 'Breakthrough Thinking' generating ideas that are both novel and useful. A culture of creativity can substantially differentiate an organisation, attracting and retaining the best staff whilst enhancing added value.

Dr David Hall, CEO of The Ideas Centre, presented his big ideas on how to unleash creativity. David is an engineer and scientist so not very creative at all but he can follow a process – his words not mine. When he was working for a manufacturing company he was sent on a creativity course which he describes as literally life changing. After a number of different roles, David left corporate comfort in 2011 to establish The Ideas Centre Ltd, to pursue his passion for business transformation through the release of individual potential. He coaches businesses of all types to unblock “breakthrough thinking”, introducing an “ideas culture” that drives the innovation process. Having experienced 25 years in board level leadership in a range of sectors, his practical approaches to creativity and innovation are geared to embedding systematic approaches within the organisation.

David opened by drawing a graph of change over time where he showed that the rate of change fuels the rate of change which means new opportunities are available all the time. The only problem is that we can’t keep up with the rate of change. The way we make sense of the world, and change, is to look backwards, review our past experiences, schooling, training etc., grab what’s relevant and use it to solve current problems. This means we get trapped in a world of ‘what is’ – a world of convention and tradition. David specialises in getting people to move away from the world of ‘what is’ to a world of ‘what might be’. But we all have mental blocks which keep us safe and David used a cave man analogy to prove we are descended to people who played safe – mainly to stay alive.

David knows that unconventional techniques bring breakthrough but he warned us they are weird. And if we are serious about creatively we need to be childlike and that involves playfulness. Or we could get a classroom of seven-year olds to do the work for us. Seven-year olds are the best at problem solving because they come up with novel ideas that are useless which is great as you can then take the characteristics that make the idea work and then use these to solve the problem. Or you could take a room of six people who want to play and use one of the techniques devised by David which could be solving the problem by creating a Lego structure of the problem then revising it until we have a structure that will solve the problem. Or each person in the room is given a superhero character and they have to solve the problem using the characteristics of that particular superhero. Sounds weird – well not as weird as some of his clients who have dressed up for workshops to get fully in character. He has photographic evidence!

Writted by Isobel Hainsworth-Brear
Edited by Rachel Kelly