Promoting Idea Generation – In Celebration of Creativity and Innovation Week – 15 April to 21 April


Back in 2010 we wrote a blog on How to help people to have good ideas.

In this article we summarised some of the key challenges that can get in the way of creative endeavour.  These challenges were identified as: the physical environment, personal attitude towards creativity and organisational culture.


In light of our more recent work and interest in the intersection of design thinking and coaching for potential, we are reminded of how enjoyable and productive creative thinking can be for those willing to spend time exercising their creative muscles.  Not only is creative thinking an integral aspect of the ideation phase of design thinking but we are also finding it is a key aspect in our coaching work to help shift a person’s perspective.  But what gets in the way of a person or team developing their creative capacity?


“If you think you can or think you can’t – you are right” – a quote attributed to Henry Ford that unfortunately reinforces how individuals often think about their creative capacity.  Sadly, many people view the capacity for creativity as polar opposites taking one of these stances – I am creative or I am not creative.   Dr Carol Dwek’s book, Mindset: Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential suggests that our mindset plays a critical part in the capacity to develop, learn and grow.  She describes how people with a fixed mindset believe that innate capacity and talent is the reason people achieve a level of attainment, which they believe is inherently fixed and any judgement on their performance is viewed as detrimental.  However, those with a growth mindset believe their level of attainment is due to effort, practice and perseverance, they welcome feedback and embrace failure as part of the learning process.   The good news is that according to Dwek, mindsets can be changed.


So, to promote the benefits of developing a growth mindset and the benefits it brings to the creative process come and join us to celebrate creativity and innovation week in April 2021.  You might just learn something and have some fun too!

A Coaching Culture: Nice to Have but Hard to Get?


We are aware of a growing buzz amongst our clients and coaching students about the importance of creating a coaching culture in their organisations. Enhanced awareness of the value and role of coaching seems to lead to a perception that if more people are using coaching skills, having coaching conversations and showing the value added that comes from coaching then maybe a coaching culture will emerge. Aspirations would appear to be strong, but the evidence less so. In a 2014 study, the ICF found that despite most organisations recognizing the value of a ‘robust coaching programme’, only 13% of organisations participating in the research are classified as having a strong coaching culture’. (2014BuildingACoachingCultureReport.pdf)

So there appears to be a rhetoric and reality gap. In addition, there is also a pressing need for individuals and organisations to respond to the post Covid world.  The question that is often asked of us as learning and development experts is, ‘How can we help to create a coaching culture that is attuned to the needs of both the organisation and the wider world?’. This question reflects Hawkins (2014c) when he asks ‘Who or what does coaching serve?’ and advocates a systematic approach to working with that wider society. (


We very much support a systemic approach for coaching that supports the ‘new world’ of stakeholder and societal collaboration. But what do we mean by a ‘systemic’ approach? For us it is about identifying what needs to be done and how it can be achieved, incorporating individuals’ needs, motivations and feelings while also including the wider perspectives of multiple stakeholders involved in and benefiting from the coaching process.


We believe that a design thinking underpinning to that systemic approach can in turn support the development of a coaching culture that is human centred, iterative and inclusive.


We’ll be looking further at the practicalities of a design thinking approach to coaching in future blogs and also how design thinking can underpin a variety of other post Covid learning and development needs.


Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

January Optimism


Well, that was the festive season 2020. It was unlike any other I can recall and I have to confess I am not sad to move on albeit into a year with as many if not more challenges immediately ahead. So, today on my first day ‘back at work’ in my isolated office, I am looking for some positives…. from somewhere…. anywhere. One thing that has sustained me greatly through the period since March of last year has been walking around my local area every day: sometimes a quick half hour sprint around the neighbourhood, other times a longer more rural adventure as I am lucky enough to have countryside all around and easily accessible by foot.

This morning I walked around my local country park. A few days ago, it was covered with water as a result of heavy rainfall over many days. But today the waters were receding, the sheep were back and the sky was breaking into small patches of blue. However bleak this place had been it was recovering and refreshing itself, looking slightly battered but reassuringly familiar.  Maybe that is as much as we can expect for ourselves over the next few months, a slower recovery perhaps than my park, but the prospect of a refreshed world that might just feel ok.

On returning home to a coffee and a scan of the morning news, I found an article by Jay Rayner ( in which he looks forward optimistically to the future of the restaurant sector. We are all so familiar with the devastation that this sector has faced and is still enduring but Jay shares some really important reassuring comments that I think have relevance for all of us in business. He quotes a source who summed up his view of 2021 in the following way: “The first three months will be as bad as 2020. In the second three months, the cavalry are coming. The last six months are likely to be the best we’ve ever had.”  Jay believes there is a ‘pent-up appetite for fun’, certainly amongst those businesses that have managed to survive through the pandemic so far and ‘despite it all, there remains a willingness to try. That’s a cause for optimism’.

Gill and I set up Level Seven in 2008. Yes, during a recession…we were told it might not be such a good idea but we rode it out and in 2021 will celebrate 13 years in business. What has kept us going? Well, we have been eternally optimistic! We have had to be flexible and adapt to the needs of our market and our clients. We have had to be resilient and able to draw on sources of inspiration and strength. Most of all, and this picks up on one of Jay Rayner’s comments, we have had fun along the way. Looking into 2021, and with this in mind, we have created our own new Level Seven coaching model based on design thinking and focusing on the power of energy generation, creativity and excitement. We will share this in our next blog.

What kind of data?

what kind of data - online event workshop design thinking

Whichever problem-solving process you use, data plays an important role.  As we know only too well, there is a wealth of data that are willingly being shared to inform people about how decisions regarding the Coronavirus situation are being made.  But how valid are these data?  This article highlights the issue that over-reliance on technology, data and algorithms is not always helpful.


One comment from the article suggests a need for a range of data to support problem-solving and decision-making:


“Our argument is simply that this logic, and these ideas, should be dropped. Indeed, a succession of recent failures and fiascoes has only underlined the paucity of the intellectual thinking behind this agenda as well as its lack of emotional intelligence”.


Design Thinking begins with the need to collect valid and reliable data about the people who are experiencing the issue and the circumstances that they engage with the issue, hence the need for design thinkers to draw on their skills of empathy; a key element of the emotional intelligence concept.  Of course, currently it is difficult to immerse ourselves in the issues and situations of those people for whom we are trying to help but we are human beings after all and that is a good starting point.   Self and Other awareness as well as empathic imagination could also help.  However, design thinking is an inclusive, collaborative and co-creative process so with these strategies in mind any solution that is generated can be tested out in the early stages through prototypes.


Our event on 8 December creates a space for all the above to be experienced.  We are using the context of reigniting individual passion and purpose, so why not come and give it a try – you might re-discover something joyful as well as learn about design thinking?


Experiencing Design Thinking – to really know something, you need to experience it!


We’ve had some fun with our conversations and recordings about design thinking and chatting about the component parts of the process.  However, there comes a time when talking about something in a theoretical way is not enough; taking action is the next step to learning and so to help people understand the concept of design thinking, we have designed a brief introduction to the process that we will facilitate online.

As we know design thinking is a collaborative process, aimed at helping to solve real world, wicked problems that do not have one specific solution.  Also, any solution that the design thinkers propose should be able to solve the problem-owners’ pain points or enhance what works well by co-creating potential opportunities.

The context for our experiential workshop is the current Covid-19 world. From the many conversations we are having with people it is clear that they are struggling with lockdown restrictions and the impact on businesses, the workplace and home. A common theme across these environments is a loss of motivation and a struggle to live and work in purposeful ways.

We want to provide time and space for participants to focus on what is important to them and to try and reignite something of their individual passion that perhaps they took for granted, pre Covid-19 times.  Whilst we do not have answers or ready-made solutions, by experiencing how design thinking can help to address tricky problems, people may find a way to re-energise their lives in some small way for the better.

As professional coaches and facilitators, we know the value in helping people and organisations to be the best that they can be and that is why we are passionate about design thinking and the benefits it can bring to peoples’ lives.

Join us on the 8th December, 2020 from 10.00am to 12pm UK time for our taster design thinking experience.

Reigniting Passion and Purpose

Are your colleagues and peers feeling low and demotivated as a result of our Covid restricted world? Do you need to create new energy and a focus on success in these challenging times? Using design thinking methodology, this short 2-hour, experiential workshop will help you to explore creative ways of revitalising yourself and others to reconnect with their purpose and a passion to deliver/succeed.

Level Seven Live – Our Design Thinking Event!

Find out about our forthcoming short 2-hour, experiential workshop that will use design thinking methodology to help you explore creative ways of revitalising yourself and others to reconnect with their purpose and a passion to deliver/succeed.