9 November 2017

Tedx Bristol Dare to Disrupt

Last week we headed down the road to Colston Hall in Bristol for this year’s ideas and inspiration event; TEDx Bristol. Here are some of our key takeouts.

The theme this time around was DareToDisrupt, focusing on Bristol’s positive disruptors, whose ideas and actions are ripping up the rulebook and having a global impact. Our strategist Liz was on hand, grouping the key themes and talks most relevant for comms and HR. Enjoy.


What: Why Baby Boomers, Millennials & GenerationX don’t exist

Who: Clive Colledge

70 year-old Clive spent 30 years as an award-winning art director and designer for advertising and marketing agencies in the UK, Europe and North America. At age 64 he was awarded a PhD studying values, marketing and generations after researching at Universities in Birmingham, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Top takeout Segmenting individuals by age, into groups like Baby Boomers, is based on false data that stereotypes individuals, leading to divisions in society. From a comms perspective, this bias-led grouping of people by age, results in unhelpful and misleading messages. It’s our values, not our date of birth, that help us share what we have in common, and create meaningful change.

Our thoughts This is something we believe strongly at Synergy. Demographics tell us nothing about a person’s attitudes, needs and priorities. And it’s this insight that’s needed if to inform relevant and effective communications.

The rise of tech and automation

What: Facing your fear: three steps to surviving the robot revolution

Who: Charles Radclyffe

Former Head of Technology at Deutsche Bank Labs in London, and currently an Associate Partner at Elixirr, Charles has built and sold three technology companies so far in his career, and in his spare time passionately supports and mentors young entrepreneurs and start-up teams. His popular blog, “The Data Philosopher” explores the ethical and moral considerations of the development and usage of the next generation Data Science and Artificial Intelligence systems. He told us; “Rather than worry about robots stealing our jobs – what if we were to proactively automate industries that were essential for our survival, and incentivise people and organisations for doing so. Imagine not having to work and what you could do with your life instead?”Universal basic income has the potential to help realise this.

Top takeout: We have to change the way we frame ‘the robot discussion’. This is our chance to design the future we want. We all should play a part in this conversation, but we need to be aware of the facts to have a meaningful conversation. We need better education, not just for tomorrow’s workforce but tomorrow’s society.

3 steps to survival

1. Acknowledge the speed of change and that unemployability is likely

2. Reimagine the economics (UBI) and remove the stigma around joblessness. Jobs don’t give us purpose they give us income

3. Think beyond work, think life and purpose. Meaning comes from contact with others and the contribution we make to the world

Thriving through change

What: Why you don’t need legs to ride a bike

Who: Martyn Ashton

A legend in the mountain biking world, in 2013, Martyn had a serious accident whilst performing in a live show. The injury left him paralysed from the waist down, but little did he know his greatest days of riding were still ahead of him!

Martyn came out of hospital with a determination to try new things – from kayaking to wheelchair racing. But the biggest challenge was getting back on the bike – and learning how to ride without the use of his legs. Despite his debilitating injury Martyn learnt to ride again and describes himself as ‘extraordinary from the waist up!’

Top takeout: The principles of Martyn’s journey can be applied to organisations (and employees) facing change. With each new challenge comes a choice – we can either cement that challenge deep in the ground and allow it to hold us back, or we can adapt our approach to get over it. There are no real barriers, only new choices and changes waiting to be made.

Grassroots innovation

We need a culture of curiosity

Who: Anna Starkey

Anna is Creative Director of At-Bristol (now We The Curious) with a degree in physics, a Bafta nomination for writing children’s animation, and a back catalogue of jobs that include stop-motion penguins, a Lab of Misfits, water rockets, voice artists, symphony orchestras, street dancers, stand up comics and particle accelerators. Her talk was a battle cry for people from all walks of life to start asking bold questions and getting curious about the stuff that matters. “In a complex world, we need curious people more than ever.”

Top takeout
: Our ability to ask questions is the biggest tool we have. The best thing we can do for the future is to teach our children to be all kinds of curious and not just regurgitate facts convert curious consumers to curious creators. Anna refers to author, speaker and journalist Ian Leslie’s three strategies for staying curious:

1. Diversive curiosity – Attraction to novelty. It’s what drives us to explore new places, people and things. The very beginning, where risks are taken

2. Epistemic curiosity – A deeper quest for knowledge – the next stage on from diversive curiosity with a more defined sense of direction. It requires more effort and work but is more rewarding

3. Empathic curiosity – Putting yourself in another’s shoes and attempting to view things from their perspective. Go beyond asking ‘what?’ to ask ‘why?’

Our thoughts: Empathic curiosity goes hand in hand with the ‘diversity of thinking’ so many organisations are striving for. In these timesof constant change, businesses need to up their innovation game at the grassroots level and encouraging and responding to employee curiosity could prove key.

Diversity & Inclusion

What: “No. You Cannot Touch My Hair.”

Who: Meno Fombo

One of Bristol’s biggest influencers and ‘doer’s’ on issues of equality, representation and education, Mena is the driving force behind the new international campaign; “No. You Cannot Touch My Hair.” The goal… for Black women (and men) everywhere to be

able to walk around, without the burden of strangers touching their hair.

“Everyone is invited to join this social justice train, without a shared sense of cultural values nothing will improve the everyday experiences of racism and sexism for people like me. My contribution is to influence where I can step-by-step, hour by hour and day by day. Step one for this project is for people to stop touching black hair – without invitation or permission!”

Top takeout: It’s natural to be curious about difference, but difference also deserves respect. There is a right and a wrong way to act on our curiosity. It goes back to respecting each other as individuals with our own boundaries and sense of privacy. Curiosity does not  automatically entitle us to explore. Sometimes permission must be sought.

Our take: With so much drive behind D&I and the value in identifying / working with difference, there is a need for awareness and education around how to respect difference, without stifling our curiosity.

What: Learn the Legal Hustle

Who: Clayton Planter

Founder of Street2Boardroom, a community interest company which helps people use their sometimes illegal ‘street skills’ to get off the street and excel in the corporate world and wider society instead. “My experience of working in the council and working in the corporate world, showed me that my friends were taking more risks on the streets that I was in the corporate world, but that it was the same skills, and often the same motivations (profit, making money) just different vocabulary and methods!”

Some Bristol law firms have already committed to learning from street crews and work with them to writing innovative business plans. Clayton is also working on an app that helps translate ‘street talk’ into corporate jargon and vice versa.

Top takeout: This has potential to significantly widen the talent pool for employers and unlock a whole new world of different perspectives.

Our take: It’s not about where candidates have come from; it’s about spotting the potential for where they could go and making opportunities more accessible. Here at Synergy, we’re often tasked with converting lengthy jargon-filled corporate documents into engaging employee comms using a language everyone can understand. It begs the question; in this age of diversity and inclusion, added value trust and transparency, does corporate jargon still have a place? Or should we be moving to do away with it altogether? What purpose does it serve? What value does it bring? A discussion for another time!



What: Wellbeing: Talking in numbers

Who: Alan Bec

Information designer, educator in psychology, international coach and interviewer of interesting people. His passion for life and people has propelled him around the world, working across many different markets and sectors. Alan contracted Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in 2011. Isolated, house bound, bed ridden, struggling to think and speak, let alone act – he felt like he was on his own with no easy way to communicate his ill health. But, one night he had a remarkable dream, involving numbers as a way of communicating how he felt. The next morning, the Wellbeing Indicator Badge ® – the WIB ® was born. The badge encases a wheel of numbers from 1-10. The wearer can turn the wheel to reveal the number that best describes how well they feel or how much energy they have. 10 = full of energy, 0 = no energy.

Top takeout:
Each time we encounter someone, we need to make active and conscious connections to create wellbeing. By displaying numbers we can change the way we all communicate with each other. But you don’t have to be ill to improve communication using this method. Talking in numbers provides a shortcut to honest and open communications with integrity.

Our take: There are many ways this could be replicated in the workplace to help improve how we interact with those who suffer from both poor physical and mental health from one day to the next.

We’re really looking to another sucessful TEDx event in Bristol next year. Once the talks mentioned above are added to YouTube, we’ll be sure to add them in here.

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