Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States, famously received a 700kg block of cheese. He allowed members of the public to share in the cheese.
In the fictional series the West Wing, the White House Chief of Staff forces his staff to go through their version of the the Big Block of Cheese day. Organisations that would not normally have the President’s ear are invited to speak to senior staff. These include Cartographers for Social Justice and also campaigners to build a highway for wolves.
The actual White House under Barack Obama has held real life events using social media under the banner of Big Block of Cheese Day. Although in the context of promoting the State of the Union speech, the use of social media to engage the public is very much of the modern times.
All this got me thinking. Firstly, it gave me a craving for cheese and crackers. More importantly though, I have begun to think about how a similar event could benefit my workplace. In this context, I’m not thinking about organisations or people trying to influence government policy. What I am thinking about is creativity, and its impact on the way we think.
I was thinking about different professions and how they operate, and what that could teach us about our own business and way of working.
Architects and designers could teach about increasing complexity of design in the way they work, mirroring the increasing complexity of assessments as we gather more information.
Artists could have powerful influence about interpretation of a subject, analysis and finding new perspectives.
Photographers need to think about the multiple influences on a shot, balancing aperture, shutter speed, film or sensor sensitivity, and the framing of the photo. It’s an holistic approach similar to social work assessment.
By calling on local organisations we don’t normally work with I would hope to encourage some out of the box thinking. It would also be on a micro level. Instead of singular large all staff meetings, it would be small groups of workers, maybe just 3 or 4, meeting with an individual guest. This would allow for more informal discussion and develop personal rapport between presenter and worker. The workers could then disseminate their experience through their own networks in the workplace.
Yes, it does depend on the generosity of professionals giving their spare time to talk to an agency that I doubt crosses their path very much. On the other hand, I see a lot of opportunity for creative application in the workplace, and as experience of learning. So it’s an idea I’m planning on introducing at today’s leadership meeting, to see how far it can get.