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Engagement Challenges – A Personal Perspective

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Engagement Challenges – A Personal Perspective

One of my favourite films when growing up was ‘Back to the Future’.
Marty Mcfly was a legend!

In the sequel, set in 2015 we were promised a future of hover boards, self lacing trainers and self drying jackets, pretty cool stuff that’ll be on my Christmas list this year! (Too soon to talk about Christmas? Never!)

I had a momentary opportunity to reminisce the other day by watching the film again. The beginning of a new year is often a time for reflection and thinking about the future, both personal and professional.

I found myself asking questions such as…
How have things gone?
What could be improved?
What’s going to happen now?

Throughout the course of last year I’d been focused on an engagement project of my own, bringing with it fresh challenges and the introduction of new approaches. There was no time machine or flux capacitor as part of my toolkit. Dealing with the situation as it stood and making the future a positive one for all involved was the priority.

I needed a good grip on the most effective approaches that would support the change needed:

Spending time talking about the change
Exploring the barriers
Painting a picture of the future in a meaningful and digestible manner

Sharing stories
How have we felt about it?
What has motivated me personally and why?
What are my hopes for the future?

Goal setting 
Exploring the goals together
Shaping and planning
Agreeing rewards when goals are achieved

And a grasp of the tools that would support my challenge:

Learning from the YouTube Superstars
Lighthearted, educational videos based around specific issues
Lifehack channels with their tips and ideas
Gamer style ‘how to’s’

6 second factoids, fast, fun and often humorous

Infiltrating my audience’s world to seed thoughts

Getting out into the world, sharing experiences together and making connections back to the challenge – there’s nothing better from an educational perspective.

And the challenge itself?

You may have realised from some of the examples above that this wasn’t a professional challenge.

Keeping my son engaged at school required some increased attention.

He’s a good boy, he loves being with his friends, playing Xbox and watching YouTube. These are his priorities. I want him to enjoy these things but I also have priorities for him. I’m sure you may have experienced similar when leading people in a work environment, maybe even when working with senior leaders. They have their focus but you must influence how they see things to achieve what you know is important.

From my perspective the biggest issue is and will always be time. As a single parent, time is always being stretched and continuity can be difficult to maintain. This challenge has had a fresh lens put on things. He reached a landmark birthday, 13, on New Years Day. There’s a continual need for support albeit, at times, different to what he’s needed previously. Often in a work context we talk and think about change that we instigate or we can see coming. But there’s also a need to adjust and shape the way in which we do things gradually and incrementally over time. To identify this we must take time to reflect.

Connecting personal and professional experiences

I tend to make connections between personal experiences and work. Our projects are focused on engaging people, real people. We don’t suddenly become different when we walk through the office doors so we shouldn’t lose sight of those common feelings, particularly around change.

How have you dealt with personal change? Perhaps a house move, changes in relationships or the loss of a loved one. These are all things that can help guide us through engagement challenges to help us consider how individuals may be feeling at any particular time.

A few things to think about…

  • Change is constant – having the right mindset to deal with it is crucial. Strategy and plans are great but allow for flexibility
  • Next time there’s a bump in the road with a scenario at work, perhaps think about how you would deal with it if it were a personal challenge
  • As much as outside influence can derail the best-made plans, it can also enhance them
  • Being agile and responding to the challenge of the moment is crucial but try not to lose sight of the bigger picture


If you’d like to share your thoughts on this, feel free to email me or tweet me @alivewithideas

Ps. Just in case you’re wondering, Alfie achieved his goals and was rewarded as agreed

“I feel like they own and care for the project as much as we do! I would not use anyone else for my creative work and think Alive is ahead of the game.”

Jo Hobbs — Communications Manager

“Thanks for all your help. We are delighted with the campaign, both in terms of the creativity and messaging but also the thought taken over the rollout of the materials. All looks absolutely fabulous!”

Sarah Crowdy — Campaign and Media Officer Communications, South East Water

“We went to ‘Alive’ for ideas on how to run a specific employee program in Europe. Alan and his team were brilliant in coming up with fresh, creative and practical approaches. The team took charge and executed brilliantly. We are pleased with the progress made so far and hope to have the same level of partnership and commitment going forward.”

Sobha Varghese — Tata Consultancy Services

“Alive helped us create a video of our response to the floods of winter 2019. Our Chief Officer received messages from all round the country praising us for it and was really pleased with both the video and the response to it.”

Alexander Mills, Communications Manager — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“We had the privilege to work with the Alive team. It was our first time to be involved in creating an animation for our patients within paediatrics. The team were approachable, friendly, creative and very accommodating. Your vision for what you want to create, is at all times acknowledged, appreciated and accommodated by the team. They worked effectively and with great passion towards our project and worked not only alongside health professionals but also our patients who really enjoyed the experience of working with the Alive team. It has given our team the confidence and inspiration to do further projects in the future. We highly recommend Alive and their exceptional team.”

DR ELENI ATHANASAKOS, Lead Paediatric Clinical Scientist — NHS Barts Health

“‘The short animation developed in co-production with clinicians and young people is outstanding! Informative, developmentally appropriate, vitally fun and engaging. We are really grateful for the expertise of the Alive with Ideas team for their innovative approach in building children’s health literacy.'”

Kath Evans — Director of Children’s Nursing at Barts Health

“Our mission was to update our brand visuals to better reflect our innovative and forward-thinking organisation. After receiving numerous pitches from different branding agencies, Alive stood out with their clear passion and understanding of our identity and goals. We thoroughly enjoyed working with the Alive Team to create an engaging new brand that we are immensely proud of.”

Lianne Springer — Communications and Engagement Lead

“Alive wowed us during the pitch process and they didn’t stop wowing us throughout the whole project. Every person we worked with at Alive were so friendly, knowledgeable and clearly passionate about what they do. They have worked with us to really understand what we do and have created a new brand and website that really stands out from our competitors. Thank you!”

Louise Burnard, Head of Marketing and Communications UK — Be | Shaping the Future

“I think the team have done such a brilliant job, particularly with responding to our requests. It's one of the best mental health videos I've ever seen. Very proud to be associated with your exemplary work. Thank you so much.”

Dr Anna Batho — Clinical Psychologist – Critical Care, UCLH

“We have worked with Alan, Caroline and the wider Alive With Ideas team for many years. In that time, they have provided a dedicated service that is second to none. We appreciate their attention to detail and creative approach to bringing our brand, communications and stories to life. And would recommend them to anyone looking for creative communications support.”

Georgia Beech — Internal Communications Specialist, Ocado Group

“This is brilliant. I wanted to give my heartfelt thanks to all of the team who worked on this. You all understood exactly what we wanted to communicate and why, and then managed to do it in a way that was far better than anything I could have imagined. I’m a bit choked up to be honest!”

Sarah Wright, Head of Communications and Campaigns — NEA

“Each time I work with the team, I am always stunned at the effort and creativity that goes into each detail and am always eager for the end result. The team is extremely accommodating and always provide a fresh approach to our projects that elevates our communications materials!”

Alana Khaytin, Communications Specialist — Braskem America

“What I really appreciate about Alive is that they work with us as partners, and care as much about getting it right for our patients as we do.”

Sara Langston, Patient Engagement & Marketing Manager — italk

“Alive are unique in how much they deeply listen and invest in you and your ideas. I have not come across a company that listens as much as they do to ensure your needs are understood and met (actually - they always exceed my needs and expectations). Everyone I recommend Alive to has an equally brilliant experience. When you work with Alive, you are not only getting some genius creativity brought into your life, you are also hanging out with some of the best examples of human beings I’ve ever known.”

Steph Tranter, Hybrid Exec Coach & Psychologist —

“The (Alive) team were able to creatively pull together and document (in just over 2minutes) everything our service has achieved over the last few months, from thousands of prescriptions deliveries to hundreds of phone calls made to the vulnerable. The final product was so powerful and reflective of what our service has and continues to achieve. It couldn’t have been better received within the service – thanks Alive for once again helping us to communicate our vision!’”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire & Rescue

“We worked with the team at Alive to create our staff recognition video.
At a time like this, its never been more important to share the amazing work that our staff have done and continue to do on a daily basis under very difficult circumstances. We wanted to shout about this and recognise that when the time came, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue stepped up to the plate. We didn’t want an ordinary thank you post on social media or a basic email sent out internally, we wanted something special. Enter Alive. ”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“Our company is fun, we have great brands, but most importantly we’re all about our people – and I wanted an agency who would understand that and help us bring it to life through our website and other comms. Straight away I felt that Alive ‘got’ us and provided the creative inspiration exactly where we needed it, as well as the technical expertise to deliver a well-functioning website.”

Keren McCarron, Head of Corporate Affairs & Communications — KP Snacks

Thank you so much. Incredible work done at incredible speed by incredible people.
Outstanding work as ever and what a turnaround. As for the concepts – wow. These are that good it would be an insult to describe them as just good. It’s a joke, quite frankly. This is exactly the Alive effect I was after. Right now I feel like I am living in an Alive With Ideas wonderland. Thank you!”

Jack Grasby, Campaigns Manager — SYFR

“If you are looking to improve creativity and build teamwork, I highly recommend a session like this for your team. No matter where you are in your creativity journey, a workshop like this can give your team a boost of energy and ideas to invigorate their creative thinking.”

Amy Lilja, IC Manager — Hennepin Healthcare

“Alive were there to help when we were working every hour to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. They gave us the creativity, ideas and support we needed to deliver campaigns which empowered our residents in the most difficult time most of us have ever seen, personally and professionally. The team understood what we needed, worked closely with us and delivered fast without any compromise on quality. Working with Alive has been a joy in the darkest of times and I have no doubt will have helped to save lives. Thanks team x”

Julie Odams, Assistant Director of Communications & Customers — Derbyshire County Council

“We got 'Alive' involved to help us shift mindsets across our organisation and they delivered! Using simple, clear and creative ideas the team have delivered us a campaign which has seen a dramatic increase in idea sharing and development. They’ve also played a significant role in creating a culture of shared success. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with again, in fact, we already are!”

Gavin Buckle — B&Q
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