24 October 2015
Anglia Ruskin University

Interview: Lesley Thomson

Lesley Thomson tells us about her creativeConf Cambridge workshop.

Could you tell me about your background and experience?

I’ve worked in government for 20 years, having stumbled into the Civil Service after leaving University with a degree in History and Economic History and no idea what I wanted to do with my life! I’ve worked in a diverse range of roles – from benefits advice to communications via IT support, project management, learning and development and web management.

Ten years in, I thought that I might finally have discovered my vocation and studied for an MSc in Librarianship and Information Studies. Having subsequently tried librarianship and knowledge management for a bit, I concluded that no, that wasn’t quite what I wanted to do after all.

And so to my current job – developing the creative capacity of the Scottish Government. It’s a job that brings together a lot of the strands that have wound their way through my career – organisational development, culture change, facilitation, community management, learning, that sort of thing.

I’m still not finished learning though, and I’m currently studying for a MSc in Digital Education.

How did you find out about the conference?

I knew Software Acumen’s Mark Dalgarno and Michelle Ide-Smith from social media and from attending UKGovcamps. I ran a workshop at a conference they organised last year: Service Design in Government. Mark subsequently asked if I’d be interested in doing something for a conference on creativity

What are your main reasons for participating

I’m always very happy to talk about creativity and I’ve never been to Cambridge, so I said ‘yes, please!’

Could you tell me a bit more about your talk?

We take creativity very seriously in the Scottish Government – we know that the challenges facing public services can’t be met without creative collaboration. We also believe that “creativity is a human capability. It is not owned by, or restricted to, artists, designers and architects: everyone has it.“ [Irene McAra McWilliam, Director of Institute of Design Innovation at Glasgow School of Art – one of our project partners.]

Over the last five years we’ve been exploring how we can harness the creativity in the organisation and make it productive. During the workshop, I’ll share some of the journey we’ve been on to create a culture of innovation. We’ll also try out some of the tools and methodologies we’ve used along the way.

What do you hope participants will take away from your session?

Government may not be the first place you’d head when looking for creativity. The public sector is often seen to be behind the private sector in innovative approaches, but there’s a lot of really cool stuff happening in government. This will be a practical workshop where participants will be introduced to some of the methods and tools we’ve used to harness and develop the creative capacity of our civil servants. These are tools and techniques that would be applicable in any setting.

Oh, and it’ll be fun!

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Tickets are on sale now. Prices rise periodically as creativeConf Cambridge draws closer, so book now for the best price!

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