Archive: Mar 2014

  1. An Office called INVOLVE continued… (By Jane Sladen)

    Comments Off on An Office called INVOLVE continued… (By Jane Sladen)

    On my 5.3 nautical miles cycle to work this morning, I started to think about the customer service I received at Pret a Manager last week. After ordering my drinks, the server delightedly told me that I had “won a competition for wearing orange” and then gave me my drinks for free. I told her it was also my birthday (thinking I might get the whole order for free) but instead I got a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday from the entire team. A team clearly happy where they worked and who thoroughly enjoyed engaging with their customers. On their website, their team members are described as the “heart and soul” of the company and “If they stop caring, our business goes down the drain.” I had heard of the Pret effect but never experienced it. Now Pret a Manger will be my coffee shop of choice as I loved my experience there so much.

    jez rowing
    The unique culture and core values that are deeply rooted at INVOLVE has affected me both professionally and personally.  My previous company (who shall remain nameless apart from to say they were a TV station whose flagship show was “Topless Darts”) had no core values.  They primary purpose was to maximise profit.  ‘People’ came way down the list.  No wonder their staff turnover was so high.  What INVOLVE have created is a culture “where people can be themselves, where they feel confident, safe and respected, where they can be happy” (Raymond Klompsma –“The power of company culture & core values”).

    But I digress, it was week 4 in our living the values competition and it was time to galvanise the team.  Throughout the week there were several activities for everyone to get involved in.  Our resident Canadian Justin was most passionate about Shrove Tuesday and treated us to the delights of American Pancakes smothered in maple syrup. Rachel, our new business manager, tried her hand at making Crepes.  We had a rowing competition that was taken a bit too seriously amongst the ‘sportsmen’ of the office, a Pancake Art competition judged by our lovely client David Reilly from Mars and won by our wonderful intern Chirag and a Charity Bake Off. It was a real working as a team week.

    justin pancakes

    Ellie and her Mars team were the stars of the office as they continuously radiated positive energy and effectiveness whilst putting the final touches to their project.  Justin was on fire; making work fun and plugging shamelessly for votes.   In fact the only value that was a bit neglected was Pioneering.  That seems to be the hardest value to live on daily basis.  I imagine it’s because everyone thinks Pioneering = Big Changes. But pioneering doesn’t have to be drastic – it can be small things like re-designing a document, taking risks or stepping out of your comfort zone.

    So see what you can achieve today; “Dream, Dare, Believe and Do” (Disney’s founding  and existing core values )

    It has been a fabulous 5 weeks at INVOLVE: 1780km rowed, 42 pancakes tossed, 126 post its posted and 5 values lived in 450 different ways: all in support of our colleague James Prior who has rowed the Atlantic to raise money for Crohns Disease.

    Amongst the fun and laughter, there was a serious (and some desperate) attempts from the masses to be involved in the “Pump up the Values” initiative.  Everyone in the office received recognition at some point but ultimately there could only be 2 winners who would win the trip to Barbados to welcome James home.

    c4c-involveThe tension in the office was palpable as we gathered in the meeting room to announce the results.   We kicked off proceedings by showing the documentary we made of James getting ready for his epic voyage. I don’t think I was the only one to shed a tear as we saw James saying goodbye to his 4 handsome sons and his very brave wife.  The video really hit home about why James was embarking on his challenge and why we, back at the office, were supporting him in our own inimitable way.

    Ash had the honour of announcing the results:

    “Tom.  It’s not you”, “Jonny.  It’s not you”, “Rachel. It could be you” and so on, until only 6 people were left.  By now our resident Canadian Justin, who was in the final 6, was almost beside himself. Knowing the result already, I quietly left to get him a tissue…   The winners; David Ramsbottom (INVOLVE’s creative director) and Mike Miles (INVOLVE’s Head of Visual Involvement) were well deserved. They consistently brought each value to life demonstrating that it was possible to live the values brilliantly whilst doing an exceptional day job.


    valueschamps2So, after 5 exhausting weeks (for us not James), the competition draws to close. When we look back at 2014, I’m sure “Pump up the Values” will be the highlight for most people. For those that had just joined INVOLVE, this was a great introduction to our values and for those that have lived with the values for several years, it served as a perfect reminder of why INVOLVE is so unique and why our values are important to us as company.  Core values are not rules to follow, they represent who we are.

    “Culture really is one of the most important things of your company, it’s who you are, it’s why customers choose you. Build a great company which you would want to do business with yourself. If you get this right, your culture is right. (Raymond Klompsma –“The power of company culture & core values”).


  2. Wave of support for James

    Comments Off on Wave of support for James

    It’s not every day your Client Director announces he’s going to attempt to row the Atlantic in a record-breaking time to raise vital funds to help find a cure for Crohn’s and Colitis UK.

    Naturally, when we heard about James’ gruelling challenge to help his son Fergus, who suffers from the crippling condition, we were 100% behind our man.

    James and his army of supporters have raised over £110,000 to date to help Crohn’s sufferers. An inspirational achievement that we’re all incredible proud of.

    We’re sure you’re just as intrigued to see how this novice rower and salt ‘n’ vinegar crisp addict got on in the lead up to, during and after his heroic feat as we were, so press ‘play’ and enjoy!

  3. The Power Of Collaboration

    Comments Off on The Power Of Collaboration

    “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”   Helen Keller

     It is widely agreed that collaboration consistently provides greater accomplishments. The combined brainpower of the intelligent, capable people in your team can solve complex problems and achieve astonishing results.


    Identifying Strengths


    Collaboration is the act of deliberately working together, and the acknowledgement that different team members bring different strengths, and ways of looking at a problem, to the table.

    It is therefore vital to clarify these strengths beforehand, and the roles of each team member within the collaborative process.

    Participants in a collaborative project must be chosen. They must be carefully considered for their skills, experience and motivations, and chosen based on whether like-minded people, or a diverse mix of perspectives, are preferred.

    It is about sharing expertise, and being open to different approaches and opinions that might ultimately improve the outcome of the project.


    Managing Collaboration


    “Collaboration is the keystone of leadership success.” – Forbes

    Leaders must make collaboration about the sum of combined skills, not an exercise in group work and learning to get on with your colleagues. You don’t necessarily need to get on with your colleagues, as long as you remain professional and respect each other’s job titles and strengths.

    Some people feel threatened by collaboration, worried that they might not get credit for their contribution, or that others might not pull their weight.  For this reason it is important to structure collaboration with simple guidelines and expectations so that everyone knows their roles and what is expected of them.

    If you want to see the potentially groundbreaking results of effective collaboration within your team, but need advice on how to do it, please contact us.


  4. Which Is Better? Core Skills or Passion?

    Comments Off on Which Is Better? Core Skills or Passion?

    “Passion is not something you follow. It’s something that will follow you as you put in the hard work to become valuable to the world.”

    Cal Newport, New York Times

     When it comes to job satisfaction, is it better to have passion, or the core skillset needed to perform the job?




    We are conditioned to believe that job satisfaction is directly linked with passion. To enjoy our jobs, we must be passionate about the work we do.

    Do you head off passionately to work each morning, convinced you are answering your true calling?

    No? Well don’t panic. Just because you are not fulfilling some personal destiny, it doesn’t mean that you are in the wrong job.

    Granted, growing up our careers advisors and the news and media told us to ‘follow our passion,’ and insinuated that those who didn’t discover theirs were predestined to lead dull and colourless lives in our society. The assumption that there is a ‘true calling’ waiting for each of us somewhere along the line can be counter-productive. It leads to much procrastination and deliberation, worried as we are that we ‘missed’ our true calling somewhere…

    Every time things get tough at work, we have a bad day or we hear of somebody doing something more interesting, we turn inward, and head towards a personal crisis. This inevitably leads to anxiety and hopping between jobs.

    Is it more positive, therefore, to focus on core skills as a motivating factor than passion?


    Core Skills


    Knowing that you are good at what you do, that you have the core skills necessary to achieve within that field, and that you are making some impact can be just as influential on workplace happiness than any notion of calling. This sense of fulfillment grows over time, and so you have to put in the time.

    If you are always looking for passion, you’ll never stay in a job long enough to find that fulfillment.

    When it comes to involvement, therefore, you may do better to apply your employees in areas where they skillset is most useful. The sense of achievement associated with being good at your job can be better for employee engagement than the abstract notion of passion’.

    If you would like to discuss how best to apply your employees’ skills, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.









  5. They’ve done it!

    Comments Off on They’ve done it!

    Congratulations Crewing for Crohn’s!

    We’re incredibly proud to announce that our man James and the Toby Wallace crew have made it! After an astounding 32 days, 22 hours, 31 minutes and 25 seconds rowing the Atlantic waves, the 8 weary rowers arrived in high spirits into Port St Charles, Barbados on 15th March 2014 at the local time of 4.27pm. Just a couple of hours shy of beating the world record, the crew achieved the second fastest time ever in a mono-hull class (conventional rowing boat) on this ocean route!

    Never happier to see dry land and sporting their impressive tans, it was an emotional reunion for the crew who were greeted by their families, flags and flares. Glad to say goodbye to the past month’s diet of dried food and energy gels, the crew and their families went straight off for a well-deserved team beer and burger (and we bet it never tasted so good)! James’ wife Fiona has reported that many of the crew are keeping their new ‘Castaway’ beards for a few days and are currently being nursed back to full strength in Barbados. Have a rest guys, you’re an inspiration and have well and truly earned it!

    Having raised over £110,000 for Crohns and Colitis UK, James, consider yourself ‘Crewed for Crohns’!

  6. An Office Called INVOLVE (by Jane Sladen)

    Comments Off on An Office Called INVOLVE (by Jane Sladen)

    Week 1 (w/c 10th Feb)

    When I started working at INVOLVE my friends thought I was caught up in a cult.  “Your company isn’t normal” was the usual throwaway comment. But they were absolutely right, INVOLVE is unique and every day I come to work I thank my lucky stars that it is.

    Today was no different, except there was one empty chair in the corner of the room.  The usual occupant of the chair, Mr James Prior – a 48year old Scot with a penchant for salt and vinegar crisps – has taken 6 weeks leave from INVOLVE to row the Atlantic (from the Canaries to Barbados) in a world record breaking 31 days and INVOLVE are rowing it with him – virtually.

    Hence the rowing machine in the kitchen; and the inflatable sharks; and the palm trees.  Oh, and the coconuts. Actually, it’s no longer a kitchen but a Caribbean beach bar and all INVOLVE employees are now potential winners of a unique competition; the chance for 2 of us to fly to Barbados to welcome James safely back to shore.

    So how does one win this amazing prize? Quite simply by living and breathing INVOLVE’s 5 values:

    – Working as a team and respecting individuality

    – Passionate about effectiveness

    – Radiating positive energy

    – Pioneering

    – Making work fun

    Each INVOLVER pulled from a coconut one of the values.  Our mission: to live that value to the full in a way that if an inter-galactic space explorer landed in our office, they would  feel our culture immediately.

    After 2 weeks, we will do our first round of values champions voting. We will re-draw and everyone will then live a different value for another 2 weeks.  There will be at least 2 rounds of voting.  The winners will be the people who have accumulated the most votes.  If there is a draw, it goes to a ‘row off’ and that is where the rowing machine comes in…….

    The grand plan was for the office to match James stroke for stroke all the way to Barbados – 3000 miles – however that just isn’t practical for a busy office like INVOLVE (as well as playing hard, we work hard too) so we decided that all forms of exercise will count towards ticking off those miles, so whether you run, cycle, swim or skate everyone can accumulate “miles”, all resulting in a motivated, energised and passionate team.

    So in true INVOLVE spirit, everyone is “sticking their oar in”!  We have  pedometers to clock up the km’s, the rowing machine is whirling away and people are working up a sweat but if you would like to help us to push up the miles, then email me at and I’ll send you a pedometer!  We would love to have you on board.


    Week 2

    To recap, our colleague James Prior is rowing the Atlantic.

    By day 8 he had rowed 722 miles with another 2274 miles to go.  Back at INVOLVE HQ, we are hot on his pruney heels and have clocked up 698 miles as a collective by rowing, cycling, swimming and walking.

    It would be a lie to say everyone is involved in racking up mileage – for some people it’s just not their thing – but that’s ok because we work as a team but respect the individual. 😉

    Those people that have taken up the challenge are taking it very seriously.  There are queues at 8am to use the rowing machine, cycle helmets racked and stacked in the server room, running pants, sweaty pants and holey pants in the airing cupboard and no one bats an eyelid any more when a half-naked man pads through the office.

    But everyone has got involved with the Values Competition. There is a lot of love, appreciation and good natured banter flying around the office. More importantly, everyone is endeavouring to “raise the bar” where they can and excel in areas where they feel out of their comfort zone.  For example, I drew “Pioneering” from the coconut. As PA to the directors I’m not sure that I have much of an opportunity to be a pioneer but having drawn the value I am committed to bringing that value to life……somehow….

    values wall

    Our Values Wall is now strewn with witty, heartfelt, comments from one colleague to another praising, joshing, thanking each other for their contribution to the business.  It sounds cheesy but “Pump up the Values” appears to be working.  People are more engaged than ever and not because there is a chance to win a trip to Barbados, but because people are feeling recognised, valued and part of something that is bigger than the company itself.

    Right, I’m off to be a pioneer.


    Week 3

    To recap, our colleague James Prior is rowing the Atlantic and we, his workmates are trying to keep up…

    … but not trying quite as hard as we did in week 1 and we haven’t got the excuse of a chaffed bottom…

    When you envisage these things, you imagine that everyone will be consistently engaged and fired up.  The reality is quite different.  People are busy with their own projects.  The novelty of rowing in the kitchen has worn off and people would rather play QuizUp than go for a lunch time run. But that doesn’t mean people are less zealous than they were last week.  In fact, the values competition is evolving and is no longer about racking up the miles or being a champion of one value. It’s become a way of (working) life.  Naturally, people are trying to make INVOLVE a great place to be and ensuring that their projects, no matter how big or small, are making a difference.

    So we need to galvanise the team as we hit the half way mark.  The two things that INVOLVE love are competitions and food and if you put them together and do it on Shrove Tuesday you have the ultimate Fun Day in the office. A perfect opportunity to laugh, challenge and inspire one another. It is also time to vote.  The first official chance to find out who in the office has made an impact on their colleagues.

    INVOLVE are conscious though not to lose sight of why we are running this 6 week initiative.  James is rowing the Atlantic for a cause that he believes passionately in.  He lives our values when he is in the office and we know that he is out there now – in the middle of the Atlantic – living those values to the max.  INVOLVE’s values competition reminds us daily of his trials and tribulations and we are impassioned to spread the word about his amazing adventure and hopefully this will go a small way to raising the much needed funds to aid research into Crohns and Colitis.