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Simon White

Simon was one of the founding members of Leapers, having joined us from the earliest days.

Simon — I’m opening with this question for everyone: Tell us briefly what you do for work?

I help organisations and individuals change their ‘how of work’. That’s focusing on the way they do things — the practice — rather than just the process within which they work.

I like the subtle but important perspective change from what to how — that’s a critical distinction. Is it getting harder to explain what you do for work?

It has been. However, I think that lots of people understand the ‘how’ aspect of what I do and it really resonates, even if neither of us knows what the actual work will be!

We’ve known each other for many years, and we’ve worked together on a variety of projects — how different is your work now to one year ago?

It’s not changed too much. I tend to work in uncertain situations, so every project is a little bit different — or it can change as we go along. I am finding the work I’m now being offered is about designing ways to change behaviour, which is where my passion definitely lies. I want to do more of this.

If work for you hasn’t changed so much, how might you describe your journey of changing the way you work?

I’d say it’s been organic and perhaps a little bit experimental.

I made a conscious decision to retire from my old work of advertising and the more creative roles I was known for, which gave me confidence to say no to work I didn’t enjoy or felt I wasn’t able to give my best to. Not only did that open up questions about what I wanted to do, it enabled me to start conversations with people I’d never normally get to speak to.

In 2014, I started Formation London with a vague sense of what I wanted to do and that has evolved over time and developed into work that I can get enthusiastic about. The past four years have provided me with a steep learning curve, but a fantastically enjoyable at the same time.

I’m not sure I’d be where I am today, or the person I am, had I not made that journey — a big part of it was using an ethnographic approach to documenting what I did and how I did it. I learned that I was doing something completely different to what I thought I was doing, which made me wonder if that was true of other people and the organisations that employ them.

Learning, and a desire to keep learning, is a common theme for many Leapers. What do you wish you knew three years ago that you know today?

That working to shift team and internal culture and enable people were the key to success for my work. Also, that I could actually do this type of work, and do it well.

If there was anything you could change about how you work today, what might that be?

I tend to have a lot of time on my own, which can be great. However, I do miss an office environment occasionally, as well as working with a larger group of people on building out ideas. While I get embedded within a team, it’s usually for a short time. There’s a lot to be said for seeing something through from generation to incubation and then to execution.

You’ve been a very active member of the community over the past twelve months — perhaps you could share what Leapers means to you?

It’s good to know you’re not alone, that others face similar challenges. It’s also lovely to be able to share ideas — and mistakes made — with others who are starting their own journey.

There’s also the can-do attitude within the community, people who will take the seed of an idea and grow it into something beautiful and amazing. The Manual of Me is a prime example — what was a personal framework has been transformed into a tool that many people can use.

And finally — can you tell us what’s next on your to-do list?

At the time of writing, it’s finishing up a positioning project for an existing client.

This week, I’ve also got a new Formation London project to get live, and a side project around improving mental wellbeing needs to be out the door.

Next week there are pitches to help a client with, and a proposal to feed into for an upcoming project. Oh, add in a whole bunch of workshop programmes on facilitation, being more ‘how’ and various innovation and creativity workshop activities to get on with finalising for a major project that starts in January.

Then there’s a new website to think about for myself, blog posts I need to write, a networking concept to deliver and nurture, and continuing the mentoring I do… and let’s not forget coffee and chats with interesting people. That’s one of the best things I get to do. It’s highly recommended.

Work With Simon

You can say hello to Simon on the Leapers slack, or visit online via the links below:

https://www.formationlondon.com/

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Simon White, interviewed by Matthew Knight.
Originally published on 2018-10-08
"It’s good to know you’re not alone, that others face similar challenges. It’s also lovely to be able to share ideas — and mistakes made — with others who are starting their own journey."

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