TED x Glasgow 2018

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It’s hard to believe in just a few years, TedxGlasgow has gone from a small fringe event of just 100 or so to over 2000 to filling out the SECC. But events like this have grown up with the increasing number of people and industries that reflect the values of the conference – forward thinking, agile and not afraid to look at a problem from a different angle. As such the conference brought forward new perspectives, this year offering insights from a speaker list that ranged from wildlife photographers to the Chief Economist of the Bank of England.

Several key themes emerged throughout the day. Catherine Heymans started the day talking about dark matter and the truth from this that the insight often lies in what you can’t see, is something very familiar to anyone who has ever analysed data and had that brilliant spark of insight – the unknown unknown. This came up again in Andy Haldane’s (the aforementioned chief economist) talk. The narrow measures of economic effectiveness weren’t delivering and hence the bank now consults public panels to check its work – essentially crowdsourcing elements of policy. Both showed that you need a broad set of data to deliver insight.

The importance of empathy and connection also came up several times. In an emotional talk professional improvisor Phillipa Waller provided the four rules for her trade that are useful advice for anyone who has to think on their feet and work collaboratively.

  • Listen

  • Offer

  • Accept

  • Build

She also touched on the “Yes, and” rule, which when critiquing delivers better results that than the more critical “yes, but” - because it closes down thinking.  This is something we’ve certainly found in sprints where collaborative decision making is key. David Webster from Ideo made similar points about successful design with the three rules underpinning his talk on delivering more humane technology.

  • Start with people

  • Be wrong early

  • Get out of your bubble

With this being Ted, of course a final common theme of many talks was just the sheer vision evoked. From Kirsty Wark’s passionate argument for a four day week, Sethu Vijayakumar’s vision of robotic mars missions to, perhaps the most ambitious talk of the day, Nick Earle’s talk on bringing Hyperloop to the UK. Driven by the simple desire to get to see his mum in Liverpool in less time, he outlined a vision of UK travel where Glasgow (or Edinburgh) to London would be under an hour – something as a frequently travelling consultancy we could all get behind.

Leaving the space at the end of the day, it was not hard to feel uplifted by the talks. It was also interesting to hear how widespread some of the new ways of working that many of the ideas in the talks touched upon are becoming. Given the content and inspiration I’d imagine attendance can only go up next year. Maybe next year, the even bigger venue next door, the SECC Hydro will be filled with a similar mix of inspiration.

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Neil Major