Brilliant Reads: embracing change at Dots 2017

Gemma Cairney interview

This week we’re bringing you a round-up of Dots 2017. Twelve amazing speakers and 300 attendees came together to hear industry leaders and inspiring outsiders speak about their experiences of embracing change.

Physics, international money and rat tickling

The day started with the irrepressible Becky Parker. She explained how the Institute for Research in Schools gets young people involved in real-world science programs – even correcting NASA’s data analysis.

Following Becky, we heard from Muriel Lotto on the massive undertaking that is the digital transformation of Western Union, in a brutally honest story of hope, ambition and change.

The session ended with Twitter’s Bruce Daisley. Using research that ranged from workplace studies to rat tickling (neuroscience), he proposed a new manifesto for a happier and more productive workplace.

Agile business, educating parents and disco dancing

We kicked off the mid-morning session with former Dots curator Neil Perkin, speaking about his recent book – ‘Building Business Through Digital Transformation’. According to Neil, being fast isn’t enough in the digital world; you also have to be focused and flexible to succeed.

Next up was Amanda Azeez. She highlighted that children see the online world as being as real as our physical world – with real friends and experiences. To protect children online, we need to change the way we talk to them about technology, starting by educating parents.

Following Amanda, we held a fascinating interview with Gemma Cairney about her book ‘Open‘. She explained that advertising and education are neglecting real-life issues facing young people today. In doing so, they’re not providing them with the tools they need to navigate modern life. Gemma called for young people to reevaluate their relationship with technology – whether that’s turning it off, getting a Nokia 3310, or disco dancing instead of spending time online.

Accessibility, building capability and thin skins

Following lunch, Robin Christopherson took to the stage. He highlighted the imperative for brands and agencies to use extreme UX in their designs and how thinking inclusively improves the experience for all users.

Wendy Aitken followed Robin. She provided an insightful look into building digital capability on a huge scale, and said that the key to success was starting the programme at the right time (you can start too early), with the right people and using the right learning techniques.

Sussex winemaker Sam Linter finished the session with the inspirational story of Bolney Wine Estate. She explained how if Bolney hadn’t constantly embraced change and pushed to develop a USP, they would not be in existence today.

Boxing, pirates and the magic of literature

The final session began with Tata Communications’ Craig Hepburn. Using his experience of white collar boxing, he explained that you have to move out of your comfort zone in order to roll with the punches that change always brings.

Returning Dots speaker Sam Conniff then took to the stage. Sam said that a rebellion is required to tackle the “vacuum of imagination in the leadership that we need” for the problems that the world currently faces. Who should we look to as our role models for this? According to Sam, we need to #BeMorePirate.

Last, but definitely not least, was Syima Aslam. Syima explained that the Bradford Literature Festival doesn’t just talk about community and inclusivity – it puts it front-and-centre, staying true to Bradford’s diverse heritage and community.

The new work manifesto from Bruce Daisley

The way we use technology in the workplace (like spending 30% of our time responding to emails) is reducing productivity, not increasing it. In his talk at Dots 2017, EMEA VP of Twitter Bruce Daisley presented the audience with evidence showing that we are working longer hours just to get our jobs done, leading to increased levels of stress. Combined with open-plan offices full of interruptions, this leads to over-worked, unhappy staff who take more sick days and are less productive.

He proposed a new manifesto for the workplace:

  1. Presume permission: waiting for permission restricts innovation.
  2. 40 hours is enough: the capacity of the human mind is 50 hours a week. The average American does three hours of work a day. There is only a marginal gain between working 50 hours a week to working 55 hours a week.
  3. Reclaim your lunch: taking a break is really important in terms of managing your energy and improving your productivity.
  4. Got to be me: don’t try to be someone that you’re not. This has a measurable impact on retention and happiness at work.
  5. Laugh: chat directly correlates to workplace creativity.

Twitter VP Daisley warns ‘stress is killing our ability to be creative’
Campaign, 2 minutes

A summary in pictures

Matt Baxter of Baxter and Bailey made some brilliant sketches of the Dots 2017 speakers – we think they really capture the eclecticism of the day.

Matt Baxter Dots sketches