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The Emporium of Dangerous Ideas aims to re-establish the importance of dangerous ideas as agents of change in education – to shift the axis of what is possible! It is for everyone who is passionate about education including college, university, school staff and students as well as those engaged in education throughout the creative communities.

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Friday, 6 February 2015

Lighting Fires

I was at Workforce Scotland’s event ‘Flourishing Workforce’  on Thursday and what an inspiring event it was. 

This was in part due to the participatory nature of the event, with key listeners rather than speakers, but also the sheer commitment from 90 plus participants engaged in shaping and leading a  future Scotland.  

Some key themes that emerged from the day were:  in redefining the workforce and the workplace we need to move away from an egotistic type of leadership where it’s all about the leaders and what they are going to achieve/change, to one where there is an emphasis on collaboration and developing the creative capacity of all staff.  Less of the ‘I’ want , ‘ I’ am going to,  ‘I’ need ,  to an emphasis on demonstrating values through behaviours There were some fantastic examples of a council fully engaging staff in generating ideas for budgetary cuts and reshaping services. There was a very strong message of tapping into the knowledge, expertise and ingenuity of staff rather than bringing in independent consultants.   The more staff themselves are actively engaged in shaping the service, the easier the change and the better the culture.  There was another example of housing association staff that were working with tenants ,  who could instantly ‘say yes’ to reasonable requests.   

There was a plea for senior leaders to move away from command and control style of leadership, dismantle hierarchies and focus less on systems and performance management. Why not ask staff to draw up their own job description?   They will focus on their strengths, and the work that really matters.  

A central theme to the day was around taking risks, demonstrating autonomy and not waiting for permission.  This can be done by lighting small fires:  testing out ideas, risk taking , not waiting for permission -and ultimately the sense of autonomy will grow.   This is very much part of an asset-based approach and related not only to staff but also the wider community.

There was a great deal of interest in the Emporium of Dangerous Ideas, which was viewed as a model for risk taking, collaboration and generating innovative thinking.  Of particular interest is the proposed work-place swap across public and private sectors to generate collaboration and develop ideas, as well as gaining a fresh view of what makes a creative workplace?


Key  speakers/listeners included Roseanne Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for fair Work, Skills and training; Sir Peter Housden, permanent Secretary, Scottish Government, Bernadette Malone, Chief Execuative, Perth and Kinross Council, Professor Irene McAra-McWilliam,  Head of the School of Design and Director of the Institute of design and Innovation, Glasgow School of Art; Professor Patricia Findlay, Professor of Work and Employment relations, University of Strathclyde; Anna Fowlie, Chief Executive, Scottish Social Services Council, Doreen Grove, The Scottish Approach, Scottish Government, Steve Allen, Scottish Government (on secondment from Police Scotland where he was Deputy  Chief Constable  and responsible for the safety and security of the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup 2014).


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