Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Talking the walk to wellbeing

The Department of Health recently issued guidelines for office workers on the amount of time they spend sitting down and the benefits of taking regular exercise in order to combat rising levels of obesity and increase mood, as in the modern workplace, many of us forgo lunch and spend much of the day sitting down.

Dr Valerie Gladwell, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Essex is researching health and wellbeing in the workplace and recently had to present on this topic at a breakfast meeting given to businesses by the University of Essex.

Valerie is the daughter of John Bothams, Senior Lecturer at Strathclyde University Management School, and long-time MindGenius evangelist.

Since John has considerable experience of providing ‘lectures’ for managers, being a Business Management Lecturer for 25 years, and a holder of an MA in Management Learning, Valerie asked if he could try and help prepare a dynamic presentation, especially as it was a very early morning meeting and needed to grab the attention of the audience and ensure that they were able to take home the key messages. Here John outlines the process he went through:

Valerie wished to provide an overview of health and wellbeing in a fresh way and provide evidence from recent research to back up the key messages. The audience was wide ranging including senior management and staff with specific responsibility for health and wellbeing in small, medium, and large companies, across a wide spectrum of business sectors. So her specific talk had to be, in her words:

“in a sensible format, not too innovative so the messages got lost, but have “a freshness” and be deliverable in 15 minutes in 4-5 slides.”

The final delivered result can be seen in PDF format at  

I happened to be beta testing at the final stages, just before release of MindGenius 4 and thought this would be an ideal opportunity to test the new presentation mode

Through a process involving an exchange of e-mails and spider diagrams she drew, I started to develop in MindGenius what I thought were her key messages. I felt important that each slide would show the whole picture, but each facet could be highlighted as she discussed it in greater detail. The main aim was to ensure the audience grasped that the integration of the ideas was important, without having to over-emphasise that integration.

An example of this was the link between the employer's legal responsibility and how improving health and well-being would also help business performance.

Another nice example was how the benefits spread from the individual employees to the work group and then on into the community via the family- i.e. the business then can fulfil some of its other responsibilities.

The talk received some excellent feedback.

Valerie feels the result of our combined efforts, provided:
• a non linear and memorable pictorial delivery of the key messages on:
o what can actually be done about improving wellbeing in the workplace
o the importance of health and wellbeing at all levels
o the evidence for health and wellbeing initiatives and the benefits to the individual
o the business case for how staff wellbeing can be of benefit to the business itself.

For me the fact that MindGenius is at core a ‘thinking tool’, rather than a drawing or presentation tool, meant the presentation slides were built directly from the thinking and were not a separately produced illustration of that thinking. This meant Valerie’s critical mental connections were securely locked in and could not be accidently omitted losing the overall logic and integrity of her thinking.

Please do download the talk but more importantly if you are an employer or an employee please do heed the messages about well being in the workplace and how it can benefit all concerned.


Daly de Gagne said...

Thanks you for including this article in the MindGenius blog. Such simple activities as taking time out for walks at lunch hour or during coffee breaks, stretching in place at one's desk, centering by closing one's eyes and taking 5 or 6 mindful breaths can easily provide benefits during the work day.

However, when management takes leadership and encourages well being of mind and body, positive feelings can grow throughout the workplace. Our local hospital encourages staff fitness. One of the ways was to challenges staff to form small groups, and then over a period of time see which groups could walk or run the most miles.

Apart from showing how MindGenius can be used to map an important concept, you've provided the added benefit of emphasizing the importance of planning for well being and greater fitness in the workplace.

Thank you indeed.


MindGenius said...

Thanks Daly, glad you liked the blog post. Definitely an important topic that is often ignored, especially when people are busy at work, but taking steps to improve wellbeing in the workplace can also help improve performance and productivity. I think that MindGenius helps break down topics like this and make them more easily understood.

George Hall said...

Hi Kelly, it is so right! I sit at my desk all day and rarely move from my position in front of the monitor.
I ride a bike when I get home from work but even if I was to take a 10 - 15 minute walk during my lunch, even if it was up to the MindGenius building from here, it would do me the world of good.
Being able to show this in MindGenius does make it easier to remember and sticks with people more than just slide after slide after slide. Excellent example of working together!

MindGenius said...

Thanks George, you are right, even a little bit of exercise makes a difference and the map format makes it easier to focus just on the key points of the info, helping people to remember what's important.

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