Leeds Progress School

We have a few spaces left at Leeds Progress School tomorrow, Feb 9th, from 4-6pm at the QU2 Centre in Queens Square, Leeds, near the Merrion Centre. It would be lovely if you could join us.  We also have another Progress School in March which you can also book now. Progress... Movement, as toward a goal; advance Development or growth Steady improvement, as of a society or civilization To advance; proceed To advance toward a higher or better stage; improve steadily To increase in scope or severity … [Read more...]

Here’s to the compliant ones…or why bolting on enterprise won’t work

Another afternoon talking NEETS and another bunch of folk who think that a few more entrepreneurs going in to schools to raise aspirations will make things better. It wont. Because for the vast majority of the time our cultures, in schools, councils and other machine bureaucracies actually teach a very different lesson. The celebration of compliance and subjugation to the system.  So.... Here's to the compliant ones The submissives The 'OK' folk The shapeshifters occupying the shape shifting roles The ones who see the reason of others They are fond of rules and the security of routine They can quote you, agree with you, glorify, and support you And, when you need to, you can ignore them. Because they challenge nothing, They don't push the boundaries And, while some may see them as automatons, we see them as gun fodder The people who will threaten nothing and will work for little more. … [Read more...]

The business of human endeavour…

For a long time now I have had real concerns about the focus of policy makers, and the projects that they spawn, on 'enterprise' and 'entrepreneurship' as being just too business oriented.  It is as if the only fields of human endeavour that matter are commerce of some kind.  Making money or fixing societies ills. This is especially un-nerving when you see it played out in our primary schools as 6 year olds are encouraged to wear badges that proclaim them be a 'Sales Director', an 'Operations Manager' or a 'Brand Executive'. Yuk! What about all of those other great fields of human endeavour? Climbing mountains, making art, having fun, playing sport, writing, cooking and so on. What if we encouraged our 6 year olds to wear badges that proclaimed them to be 'Footballer in Training', 'Ballet Dancer under Construction', 'Surgeon to Be' or 'The Next Michael McIntyre'?  OK, so perhaps we don't need another Michael McIntyre.... but you get my point? Because what really matters is not exposing more people to the world of business and entrepreneurship.  It is to get them imagining possible futures, and learning how best to navigate towards them.  It is about developing people with a sense of agency and influence over their … [Read more...]

The Art and Enterprise of the Luthier

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One Way to Raise your Profile…

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Towards the Enterprising Community

No-one can agree on a community.  Is it defined by political geography? Physical geography? Economic geography?  Interest, practice, culture?  So how do we use such an elusive, slippery yet, for some of us, attractive and powerful concept? Well, personally I have given up worrying about how 'communities' are defined by outsiders (politicians, funders, missionaries of various kinds, what Paul Theroux calls the Dark Angels of Virtue).  The only thing that matters for me is the individual, or the usually small group sat in front of me, and their perception of their community, defined their way.  Any other attempt to work with the concept for me is just hot air.  We all define community personally and, very probably, uniquely. But that does not make the concept useless.  Quite the opposite. I spend a lot of time helping people to look at the relationships and contexts that they are a part of and the extent to which they help or hinder them to become the kind of person that they wish to become, accomplishing the things that they most wish to accomplish.  And I will spend time working with them on how they can get more of the support that they need from their 'community'.  I spend a lot of time and energy building networks … [Read more...]

Developing Enterprising Artists Using Open Space

Yesterday I was invited to help Axis and the ever wonderful Culture Vulture to run a 'Cultural Conversation' to help a group of around 60 artists, project managers, collectors and gallery managers to explore the role of social media in supporting their work.  The group included some social media users and 'experts' (I use that word cautiously) and one or two technical types.  Peopl trsavelled from all over the north of England to take part and the venue at Project Space Leeds was rammed! Instead of using the default setting of finding some experts to explain it all to the numpties we went with an open space meeting.  In this format groups of people meet to explore as peers the issues and topics they wish to explore.  They set the agenda, in real time on the day, and learn by exchanging experiences, insights and challenges.  They talk to each other, like human beings, in conversations. In under four hours the group of 60 were each able to attend 4 conversations chosen from a schedule of 18 or so.  The topics included: 'What is Twitter and How Do I Use It' Social Media Dialogue as Artwork' I am Completely Overwhelmed! Where Do I Start? Using Social Media for Critique and many more. Despite the fact that there are … [Read more...]

Dock Street Market – and the role of the Leeds communities

I went to a very wonderful opening for Dock Street Market last Friday.  It used to be a decent enough shop that had many fans and reportedly turned over a million a year.  But still it could not survive. Now the shop has been taken over by a number of local artisan producers and entrepreneurs, all of whom offer a phenomenal product.  We have fish and chips reinvented by the wonderful Fish &, excellent north Italian coffee and more from Bottega Milanese, superb breads from the Riverside Sourdough Bakery and more.  The people behind these businesses are phenomenally hard working and focussed on quality, service and value.  They are doing their bit to make the collaborative project a success. But my interest is in the role of the rest of us.  The fine citizens of Leeds.  Of the 700 000 plus people that live in the city, my guess is that the vast majority will not even know that the Dock St Market exists.  They are 'strangers' to the market.  Perhaps 10 ooo or so are aware of the market and certainly a couple of hundred rocked up at the opening last week.  These constitute 'prospects'.  People who know the market exists and may become customers. But customers so far, by definition, are a smaller group.  Having only … [Read more...]

Arts Funding in a Web 2.0 World

I tend to agree with JG Ballard when he said: The funds disbursed by the Arts Council over the decades have created a dependent client class of poets, novelists and weekend publishers whose chief mission in life is to get their grants renewed.... The trouble is the alternatives to pursuing public funding are so damned hard.  They traditionally rely on someone liking your art enough (or believing it to be a decent investment proposition), to want to actually buy it at a price that does not lose the artist money and that values their time and skill reasonably. But what if we set up a site where artists could pitch their projects at the 'drawing board' stage, including the budget necessary to create the work, and then donations were crowd sourced from the web? It could look a bit like this from the US. Does such a platform exist here in the UK? Could it? Should it? … [Read more...]

Progress School in Leeds

Just about to embark on a new venture in Leeds called Progress School, providing pay what you can professional and personal development.  Progress School offers: A confidential and supportive environment in which to plan your personal and professional development Time to develop a vision for the 'ideal you' and to learn more about the 'real you' - how you are perceived by others Recognition of strengths and gaps - those potentials that you have not yet fully realised A learning agenda - identify what you need to learn and how you are going to learn it to bridge the gap between 'real' and 'ideal' Access to a network of fellow Progress School members who will commit to helping you learn A chance to experiment - to try out new behaviours and skills - to see if they work for you Develop new practices that help you make progress Progress School is designed to offer you a flexible process to support your development.  The more you attend the more you are likely to get from it - but there is no curriculum to follow - just a process of reflection and action to engage with. Interested?  Book Your Place...Now Prices start from free.... … [Read more...]


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