While the majority of organizations may pursue innovation by having teams brainstorm in windowless conference centers and boardrooms, Curiosity Inc. is bringing a form of facilitated workshops called Street Wisdom from its roots in the U.K. to organizations across North America.
Curiosity Inc. will officially launch Street Wisdom through what it calls a “taster” session on Friday, June 15 in Toronto. Participants will be asked to bring a key question or problem they’re wrestling with to the free event, which will take place in a downtown location. After a series of tune-up exercises where they are sent on brief 10-minute assignments to walk and pay attention to what’s around them, those taking part will then wander for an extended period, using suggestions or guidance from their facilitator about their question to think about. The group then reconvenes for a de-brief and feedback on the insights and ideas they generated about their question or problem.
Curiosity Inc. president Karen Ward said her firm, which helps organizations with a variety of facilitation and team-building services, first discovered Street Wisdom last year through its founder, David Pearl, who initially launched the concept in the U.K. She said she immediately saw alignment with the kind of value Curiosity Inc. wants to bring to its clientele.
“My mind was blown, both personally and professionally,” she told B2B News Network, which is partnering with Curiosity Inc. on the launch. “It just felt like the greatest opportunity to get people out of those boardrooms, those ballrooms, those meeting rooms and infuse those sessions with movement and a different way to bond as a team.”
Ward has already conducted Street Wisdom sessions with a professional services client in Vancouver, Calgary and other major Canadian cities. The taster session is intended to help introduce the idea to businesses, and as more firms take the plunge Curiosity Inc. will produce case studies and other marketing assets that make it easier to build a business case for trying Street Wisdom out.
“Conceptually it sounds interesting to a lot of people, but you can’t fully appreciate the power of the process until you’ve been through it yourself,” she said. “What we have found is that once a business leader or someone on a team goes through it, they come back as advocates and evangelists for the program.”
Ward said she typically conducts a pre-survey and briefing call to make sure those participating understand Street Wisdom and why their organization is doing it. Some initial uncertainty or even skepticism is not uncommon, she said.
“You really need to come in with an open mind — and I would also say with an open heart,” she said.
Street Wisdom is coming to North America at a time when more organizations are offering programs to encourage mindfulness through meditation and other practices, Ward pointed out. Well-known brands such as Facebook and Twitter have a history of “walking meetings,” for instance, and research from the American Psychological Association, among others, has found that “walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity.”
Curiosity Inc. may see interest in Street Wisdom in some quarters as an antidote to the more traditional brainstorming and innovating that happens on digital whiteboards or through employee portals, Ward said.
“It has a great application to tech culture, but it will also work for any organization where people are really screen-based,” she said. “And that’s really all of us now.”
Registration for Street Wisdom’s Toronto launch is available here.