We're always curious to hear how our members and contributors tackle the challenges that the ever-changing world of HR throws at them. We've got a wealth of experience and knowledge across the site, and what better way to showcase the diversity of our community than to get them to walk us through an average day?
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Cris Beswick is CEO and a Strategic Advisor on Innovation at The Future Shapers and is also a regular contributor to HRZone and TrainingZone on the subject of innovation and culture.
So, Cris, tell us about your average day...
06:00 - In my line of work, as for many of the CEOs that I work with, one of the only constants is that no two days are alike. Having said that, I do try to start each day in the same way which means having a quick coffee, checking my diary to make sure that I haven’t missed anything, am clear on my schedule and respond to any urgent emails or the occasional early morning conference call. With two young daughters it’s a good thing that I naturally wake up early as it’s a fairly regular occurance to find my morning starting to the theme tune of Frozen or the dulcet tone of Peppa Pig or Hey Duggie! but I do find this structured start enables me to be well prepared for whatever is on the agenda for that day.
08:00 - My wife runs my office and is my PA so she makes sure that things run with military-esque precision. Unless I have a very rare desk day I generally try to get the train to London around 7am. This gives me the chance to get settled, with coffee of course, at one of the business clubs I work out of and to get in some preparation time for whatever I have planned in. As a strategic advisor, author and keynote speaker on innovation my day is always really varied, I could be drafting out the script for a new keynote for a conference or webinar, sketching out an article for one of a number of publications I write for, working on an innovation strategy or development programme for a client.
11:00 - I know that breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day but my running start means that for me breakfast tends to be a quick bite whenever I can manage it, topped up with coffee number three. By now I’m well into my day which is generally packed with conference calls, video calls and face-to-face meetings; for example, talking innovation strategy and culture at the Ministry of Defence or discussing innovation leadership coaching at BMW. I’m also a Visiting Fellow on Innovation at Cranfield’s Centre for Customised Executive Development and a Visiting Professor on Innovation at ICESI University so it’s not unusual for me to be running programmes for executives although ICESI does also require a bit of a plane trip each end!
13:00 - One of the advisory positions I have is with Wazoku which is one of the leading innovation and idea management companies so I always make sure if I’m not in meetings with them or working at their offices I take time during the day to catch up with their head of strategy or their CEO, Simon Hill. As a co-founder of the innovation thought leadership website The Futureshapers I also take time to catch up with the other cofounders; perhaps to view a prospective contribution to the site or to discuss an upcoming series of thought pieces with one of our corporate sponsors or thought leaders.
15:00 - By now you may well find me topping up my caffeine levels as I work on site with a CEO or client advisory team; perhaps in a strategy meeting workshop or maybe discussing or delivering leadership development or capability and culture change programmes. On the other hand I might be speaking at a conference or answering some tricky questions in an interview either about my immediate work or as a follow-up to my latest book, Building a Culture of Innovation, which I co-wrote with Derek Bishop & Jo Geraghty.
18:00 - They say time waits for no one but global clients mean that the end of the day or sometimes late evening could be taken up with international conference calls. It’s not always possible because of time differences but I always try and get them out of the way before I head home so that I can switch off, as much as a self-confessed workaholic does anyway! Whenever possible I try make it home to see my two girls before they go to bed and to have a catch up with Mrs B on what she has scheduled for me the following day. As well as supporting all our thought leading contributors on The Futureshapers she keeps me in check and makes sure I stay on track so we make a pretty efficient team.
Now tell us...
What would you say are your main passions or things you champion within HR?
I work predominantly with CEOs and senior teams on the strategy, leadership and culture required for innovation and I’m a huge champion of mindset and of the importance of infusing innovation culture throughout an organisation and providing all of its people with the tools they need to innovate.
There’s lots of talk about the VUCA world and the challenge which that presents leaders of organisations, but for me the mindset of an innovation leader isn’t about the world being Volatile, Unpredictable, Complex and Ambiguous but rather about the creation of a Visionary, Unbounded, Creative and Ambitious mindset. I think being an innovation leader is about being able to lead in this reframed VUCA world.
What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
Meeting different people from different organisations all over the world. Truly innovative organisations embrace collaboration, and the more I can help to spread best practices and ideas, the better contribution I can make to delivering game-changing solutions through innovation.
The travel isn’t glamorous like many think it is and I’m often away from home but I’ve met some of the most inspirational leaders on the planet and that helps to keep me on my toes.
What keeps you up at night?
I have two small daughters and on the one hand I worry about the world they will be left with if we continue on our current path. On the other hand, I work in the world of innovation so balance that out with the reality that they will also grow up in a world of possibility and opportunity, they’ll grow up in my reframed VUCA world!
As an ex-entrepreneur I know the value of opportunity soa s a father I need to make sure I don’t fail to teach them the value of opportunity.
One tip you’d pass on to your peers?
Simple; stay humble and don’t drink too much coffee!