On 20 July we invited our clients to a Shared Intelligence summer party at which Ben Lee presented 17 trends for 2017.
My colleagues challenged me to blog about 17 things I learned at the party. So here goes.
- In our seventeen years we have gathered around us a wonderful group of clients, friends and collaborators each motivated by the public good and the desire to solve difficult problems.
- The new Si website says we “use data and evidence, logical ways of thinking and facilitated conversations to help our clients deliver better outcomes for the communities and places they serve”. It was really encouraging to see that message resonating with our clients.
- It has always intrigued me how over the years Si has been able to attract like-minded people to work for us. It was clear from the conversations at the party that we also work with a group of clients who although like-minded, value our independent perspective.
- The importance of place. Our office is near Tate Modern whose vast form shapes how we perceive this neighbourhood. The party venue, The Table (proudly independent, striving for quality, blurring work and social occasions), is literally a stone’s throw from our office and is a great example of how our part of London is changing.
- Three of our guests used to work for the Department of Communities and Local Government (or one of its previous manifestations) as did two of my colleagues. It is interesting how far and wide the CLG diaspora has spread.
- All the planning in the world cannot beat serendipity.
- We pride ourselves on using evidence, such as our 17 trends, to help our clients think creatively about a challenge or opportunity. But it was a relief to discover line-charts of multi-variable time-series data can also stimulate conversation at a party.
- To reach Exeter before midnight means getting the 20.35 from Paddington
- There was a real mix of generations at the event. It is always good to see people at the start of their careers learning from those of us who have been around longer. But it’s even better to see more senior people learning from the newbies on the block.
- Quails eggs are delicious.
- The fact that Ben was able to present the 17 trends in six minutes reminded me it is not how much time you have but how you use it. You can do a lot in six minutes.
- We work with people whose professional interests range from running hospitals, leading councils, supporting regional skills, ensuring young children are better prepared for school – to name but a few – but some of the most animated conversations were about our various passions for culture and art (from sculpture to pop music).
- Our clients and friends prefer Prosecco and beer to Pimms and red wine.
- There were plenty of reminders of the power of local councils and of local politics. But one of our guests has led a successful (and large) spin-out from a council to become a social enterprise and spoke eloquently about the innovation and enterprise that move has stimulated.
- You can learn more through a few minutes of conversation with the right people than hours of trawling for the right report or data.
- The average number of other guests people at the party knew (not including our own staff) was 4.8 – the median was 4.0 due to the average being skewed upwards by a small number of mega-networkers (Simon Edwards and Kevin Lloyd).
- We should do this more often.