How Interchange does creative
If you’re a long-term follower of ours (or even a new one), you would know that we are a management consultancy that creatively transforms organisations. But what does that mean? How can a management consultancy be creative, it’s kind of… stale work is it not? Ah-hah, that’s where you’re wrong my friends. The way we do it is anything but stale. I can assure you.
For our team, creativity comes quite naturally. We try to incorporate it everywhere we can. But we don’t think outside the box purely for our own entertainment. The creative elements within our projects lead to many benefits that PowerPoint presentations could only dream about.
Put it this way. If you were ushered into a room, to sit down on a plastic chair, beneath fluorescent lighting and told to pay attention to a monotone speaker for 4 hours, do you think you could do it? Would you feel particularly primed and excited to obtain new knowledge or devise breakthrough solutions? I don’t think so – a few slide transitions aren’t going to save the day there I’m afraid.
Bringing about change requires courage, creativity and innovation. If you can’t rid yourself of the stickiness of the past, you won’t be able to open your mind to new possibilities.
So, in order to generate the best possible ideas and learning outcomes, you must first engage in a thought process called divergent thinking. Divergent thinking is the process in which you strive to rapidly explore as many solutions as possible. A lot of these solutions may seem rather out-of-the-box, but that is generally where the best ideas come from. By engaging in this process, you are likely to make many unexpected connections, connections that will lead you to some of the most innovative solutions.
To unlock the awe-inspiring powers of divergent thinking with our participants, Interchange likes to add a little spice to the learning and development space. Actually, now that I think about it, we add more than just a little spice, we mix in the entire chilli plant! If we’re keeping you on the edge of your seat and having fun, then you best believe that you’ll be ready to absorb the information and explore new territories. This is very important to the nature of our work.
Can’t even imagine what this would look like? Well, here are just some of the creative elements that we have woven throughout our projects.
Cinema has an enormous ability to influence behaviour and culture. When stories are told through the art of film, viewers are able to empathise with those on-screen and imagine what it would be like to walk in their shoes. It is for this reason that Interchange likes to create bespoke films to reinforce and demonstrate our client’s message. By harnessing this creative power, we have the ability to inspire powerful, positive change.
For one of our clients (whose workforce is primarily located in India), Interchange flew over to India and worked closely with a Bollywood production house to produce an authentic Bollywood film titled ‘It Starts in the Heart’.
A still from ‘It Starts in the Heart’.
The film was an all-singing, dancing, Hinglish speaking (Hindi and English) love story, peppered with powerful safety messages. The film also featured some well-known Bollywood actors and actresses, making the delivery method even more captivating.
As Bollywood cinema is a large part of Indian culture, the participants were absolutely enthralled by the film, helping to cement the underlying messages.
Curated learning environments
As we mentioned earlier, the divergent thinking process is an integral part of all of our programs. To get the participants’ thoughts entering the realm of creativity, the learning environment must be one that is conducive to innovation. Meaning that it must:
- Suit the needs of the participants and be supportive of what the program aims to do
- Be completely different from the participant’s day-to-day environment
- Make everyone involved feel equal, comfortable and trusting
- Have the learning material delivered in a fun and unusual way
A fully decked-out, bespoke learning environment is one of Interchange’s signature moves. However, due to the individualised nature of our programs, these environments will always look different for every client. For Bombardier Transport, it was important for the leaders within the business to understand exactly what the frontline working environment was like. So, to facilitate this, Interchange created a custom-designed mobile learning space inside a converted shipping container. The container was fitted with hydraulics as well as floor to ceiling perspex windows so that the inside environment could seamlessly meet the outside environment.
Mobile learning environment for Bombardier
The learning space was then placed into the middle of a worksite so that the leaders could experience the intensity of the sights, sounds and smells that the frontline workers experienced on a daily basis. The mobile learning environment was unlike anything the participants had ever experienced, so it’s safe to say that it left a lasting impression.
Another successful learning environment we created was part of a culture transformation project that we did with WesTrac. Since WesTrac employees regularly attend training sessions in class-room style environments, the aim for this program was to completely transform one of the existing rooms into one that resembles somewhat of a clubhouse or a pub – somewhere that they could feel relaxed.
To have open, meaningful and robust discussions, participants must feel as though they are in a safe and comfortable environment, so that’s exactly what we provided.
The room was renovated, complete with picturesque wallpaper, comfortable high-backed armchairs, a coffee machine and a variety of games, including a dartboard.
Participants were not only excited to attend these sessions, but they also acknowledged the thought and effort that went into the learning environment, making them feel appreciated and valued.
Nothing is going to teach you more about a scenario than actually experiencing it. That’s a fact. But what if the scenario is difficult to replicate or even dangerous?
As an innovative business, we like to incorporate various pieces of immersive technology into our projects, one of which being virtual reality (VR). For many of our clients, we have designed bespoke VR films and training modules that simulate and address the issue that they are facing.
For example, for a logistics client, we designed a VR module that allowed participants to wander around the worksite and observe the activities that were taking place. The participants were required to identify the (seemingly very real) hazards that they encountered, all while remaining out of harm’s way.
For other projects, we have developed immersive VR films that place participants in a virtual scenario designed to evoke particular emotions and inspire empathy.
The team filming the VR module.
It may not come as a surprise to you, but we actually have a few experienced actors on our team. As they say, your best resources are your human resources, so we try to utilise their creative talents to create positive change whenever possible.
Some of our most successful programs have involved theatre. By bringing relatable, real-life scenarios onto the stage, participants are able to witness certain behaviours and actions being reflected back at them – but with a healthy dose of humour thrown in. This is not only a form of entertainment but also a learning opportunity, provoking thought and instilling knowledge further than some of the more standard delivery methods.
In our line of work, we often help organisations understand their current state, articulate an aspirational future state and then map out the path from A to B. However, we don’t do this by simply inviting people to focus groups and asking them point-blank “what do you think about today” and “what could the future look like”, oh no. We manage to bring the creative to this part of the process too.
For every single one of our workshops or focus groups, we facilitate a more empathy-driven discussion. A conversation amongst friends rather than an interrogation or a lecture. We use storytelling as a powerful tool to break down barriers and invite vulnerability into the room. After all, the best results can only be achieved once the walls have been demolished.
Simon facilitating a session as part of the Built By Us Program with WesTrac.
If you ever attend one of our sessions, you’ll also notice that our participants never stay seated for very long. Before they know it, they are up and moving around the room, collaborating with others and sparking genius ideas.
We even throw a decent amount of gamification into our sessions too. Participants have been known to engage in friendly Nerf Gun battles, game shows, debates, Tinder profile creation, Lego building and more.
Client projects aren’t the only setting in which we can flex our creative muscles though. As an imaginative team of diverse people, we love to sprinkle our magic everywhere that we can, even if it is just an internal project.
Last year, while we were all (not) enjoying our COVID-19 lockdown in our respective houses, we felt that we needed to do something that would get our creative juices flowing and lift our spirits. So, we present to you: The Melbourne Lockdown Experience – A Parody.
We not only wanted to create something that reflected our experience but something that made light of the more unique aspects of the working from home journey.
The moral of the story is, don’t make your training sessions a snoozefest. We often get stuck in a rut, doing things the same way that they’ve always been done, that must be the best way right? Wrong. There’s more than one way to instil knowledge, but you’ve got to think outside the box.