Helpful Banking

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Helpful Banking?

In tonight’s Panorama program on BBC One, reporter Adam Shaw investigates the current state of Britain’s high street banks, and reveals that while base rates remain low, the cost of borrowing for customers has risen significantly – with one bailed-out bank charging an effective interest rate in excess of 3,000 per cent – while small businesses are finding it just as hard to get a loan.

This reminded me of one stormy evening in September 2009, when an incredible mix of people gathered for our Big City Brainstorm, where we explored “How to rebuild the reputation of the UK’s financial services sector and the City of London as the world’s leading financial centre”. The overwhelming impression we had then was how angry people were about what had happened. They had lost their trust in what was previously the great hero of the country. How could we rebuild it?

The Big City Brainstorm came up with some ideas for rebuilding the trust that, while being tongue-in-cheek, also reflect how people felt at the time.

Lately I’ve noticed a lot of banks are now using messages like “helpful”, “trust us”, “we’re different” and “we understand” in their advertisements. The line goes “we’re here to help”. They entice with throwbacks to the good old days by saying you can speak to your bank manager about your mortgage or savings (Bank managers still give mortgage advice? Not in my branch). Clearly the need to rebuild trust has become apparent to their marketing teams.

However, eighteen months after the great British banking crash, there are few visible changes. Most of the same old names are still there, and the banks are back to making handsome profits and equally handsome bonuses – rewarding themselves to the tune of 6 billion pounds in 2009. The banks, however helpful & different they claim to be in their adverts, don’t seem to have changed their ways .

So what can they do to restore trust?

Author: Kristine Pitts

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MIRROR – Reflective (and Creative) Learning at Work

Football Kick-off

[tweetmeme]Amidst the football madness, Neil Maiden and I journeyed to Saarbruecken in Germany for a different sort of kick-off, the project kick-off for MIRROR – an EU Framework 7 funded project.

“MIRROR is aiming to develop the first technology-enhanced learning approach that can be used in highly dynamic working situations and situative context, where no teachers, no formal content and no explicit knowledge are available. “

It seems the EU has recognised it’s tough out there at the moment, and that many forms of formal training can be time consuming and costly, especially in SMEs where sending staff on training can mean difficulties in finding cover for the work they will be missing. Wouldn’t it be great if they could learn while they are on the job? (Doesn’t sound radical yet does it? Be patient, please).

When we’re taught new things or have new experiences we learn from them by reflecting on what we’ve experienced or been taught. Reflection is key to the MIRROR approach and the project aims to support the approach with technologies that enhance and motivate both individual and collaborative reflective learning process.

The key part that interests us is that reflection is not limited to the retrospective element, on the contrary there is an intimate connection between reflection and creativity. How? When we reflect on past events and experiences we train our capability for critical thinking and arrive at new insights or new perspectives from which to view a problem.

Our goals (here at City) in the project is to:

  • Understand opportunities for and barriers to reflective learning during creative problem solving
  • Develop creative problem solving strategies that have the potential to support reflective learning
  • Integrate model of reflective learning behaviour and outcomes with existing models creative problem solving
  • Develop software-based tools that support reflective learning during creative problem solving

We will be working closely with (among others) some UK based care homes, looking at how the MIRROR approach and technologies can support care home staff working with people who have dementia.

Where will it take us? We’ll keep you posted.

Author: Kristine Pitts

Everyday Innovation Networking Event

[tweetmeme]City University London and the Work Psychology Group recently completed a research project on ‘Everyday Innovation: How to enhance innovative working in employees and organisations’ This has been published by the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA) in collaboration with the Charted Management Institute.

Organisations across the private, public and third sectors are increasingly recognising that innovation is crucial to their productivity and effectiveness, particularly in these tough economic times. Yet many organisations struggle to make innovation a practical day-to-day reality. This report offers several practical examples to show how to promote everyday innovative working at the employee, group, leader and organisational levels.

The findings and recommendations of the report were launched in December 2009 receiving wide interest from a range of organisations. As part of the ongoing wider dissemination, we are hosting an early evening networking event to showcase our findings in an informal setting. If you attended the December launch event, this is an ideal opportunity to follow up on the report since then. If you are yet to see the report, please come to the event to find out more.

Event format: There will be some brief presentations followed by plenty of time for discussion and networking with light refreshments available. We hope you can join us for what we expect to be an exciting and thought-provoking evening.

If you are unable to attend but are interested in this area or discussing the report further, please contact one of the authors at the following addresses Fiona Pattersonand Maura Kerrin

Registration: Reserve your place today

A New Renaissance for Creative Design?

[tweetmeme]I recently went to the excellent exhibition of Italian Renaissance drawings at the British Museum.
Verrocchio's Head of a Woman

The drawings were, of course, amazing, and included works such as the Head of a Woman by Verrocchio, and Leonardo’s first landscape (1473). But what has stayed with me, as well as the memory of the drawings themselves, is a couple of thoughts the exhibition triggered about today’s world of design and technical innovation.

So, the main source of material for new works of art before the Renaissance period were ‘model books’ – collections of images and compositions from which artists copied and used ideas and representations they liked. During the Renaissance, artists began to take their inspiration and draw more directly from nature, leading to a more naturalistic style, and more freedom for creative expression. This was in part due to the increasing availability of paper – much cheaper than vellum – on which drawings could be made.

My favourite section of the exhibition was dedicated to explaining the impact on artistic practice of the new tools (such as paper) and techniques for drawing that were developing at the time of the Renaissance. For example, how the use of pen and ink for sketching was increasingly favoured for its responsiveness and expressive capabilities, how techniques for drawing using silverpoint – that couldn’t be erased – compared with those for drawing with lead – that could be rubbed out and changed, and how the development of print-making techniques enabled designs to be mechanically replicated and shared with larger numbers of people for the first time. The exhibition shows how developments of this kind in drawing laid the foundation for a new world of art.

It struck me that current developments in interactive tools and technologies offer the potential to deliver a similar revolution in today’s world of creative design. Interactive technologies are more pervasive and available to us all than ever before – they are in our buildings, on our desks and in our pockets. We can share digital artefacts as never before, and the possibilities of gestural interaction offered by devices such as the Wii and iPad offer huge potential for flexible and fluid interaction. How are such developments in new technologies laying the foundation for a new world of creative design?

This is a question I’m looking forward to exploring in my course on Technologies for Creativity and Innovation as part of our new Masters in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership. In the meantime, I’ll be happy to share more experiences, and hear yours too.