Johnnie Moore is sitting with me in The Duke of Cambridge, Islington, musing on medieval revelry.
“There used to be a lot more dancing in the streets, but then the Church did away with all that. We used to be more joyous. That’s why I like Flashmobs – they’re playful. Ok, so T-mobile getting everyone to dance at Liverpool Street station was an ad – but we loved it, didn’t we?”
There’s not much revelry going on right now. It’s 4pm on a Tuesday afternoon and we’re the only people in the pub.
Many years ago, Johnnie tells me, this place was different: completely packed out at weekends, with fights outside on the pavement afterwards. Islington is a lot more serious these days, but then, maybe now the banking community has more time on its hands, things will liven up again.
Johnnie is tired of the obsession with planning that seems to be stultifying the business world. Recently, he complained on his blog about “model fatigue”:
“In business you spend the day in a room and there’s all sorts of pressure to come up with a plan. We’re fabulously complex creatures – not all we do confirms to the model. Listen more, notice more – rather than making a plan. If you connect more, it’s quite energising.”
“A lot of the stuff written about innovation is Evostick: all those 12 step diagrams and models. It reminds me of the stuff scribbled on the wall by people who’ve been stuck in solitary confinement, Alexandre Dumas style – it seems slightly autistic.”
As a facilitator and consultant to the likes of NESTA, Johnson & Johnson, PricewaterhouseCoopers and O2, Johnnie is something of an authority on these matters. Much of his work involves running workshops and away days which use improvisation and other techniques in order to open up the collaborative process and get creative ideas flowing.
“People like to believe in this scarcity model of innovation when in fact creativity is quote abundant. What we’re short of is an ability to actually notice stuff. Innovation happens very naturally among human beings.”
A keen Twitterer and blogger, Johnnie is an ardent fan of social media, and he believes we are slowly seeing a change in the way business is conducted:
“Because it’s informal, social media encourages a more relaxed style. It gives people an outlet for their frustration. It allows people to bring this side of themselves out; it facilitates self-expression.”
As an example of this outlet for pent-up frustration, Johnnie cites the Facebook group recently set up to protest against MPs covering up potentially dodgy expense claims.
“The future of organisations could go in so many ways. We could have an oligarchy, a small number of very safe hands. It could end up we try and regulate too much. The genie’s sufficiently far out of the bottle for it to be stuffed back in. Social media’s eating away at these power structures.”
Old-school management styles will also be affected.
“There’s this very weird language being used about busy-ness and action: but that type of management and the need for it is going to start being eroded.”
“I suppose I would say this, but the role of management will be to facilitate. It will be more about holding a space in which people feel involved, loved and needed.”
And if a bit of revelry is involved, so much the better!