Sophie Brown

Sophie Brown

Apr 192016

colour circle: consumers and users
How do specialists in different disciplines make explicit use of “thinking and mind” in their work?  We’re pleased to invite guest writer Brian Jens, a design professional, to offer insight from his experience on one key element of his work.


Have you ever wondered why you prefer this or that color?

colour_circle_brian_jensColor plays an important role in human life: it can affect decision making, change your reaction, or be the cause of it. Under the influence of a particular color, you may experience a change in pressure and appetite. We do not generally focus the attention on color in everyday life, so the importance of understanding its effects comes to us only when the color is absent: for example, on a cloudy or rainy day we may feel depressed, and the world around us seems to be unfriendly.

Color awakens unconscious reactions that may vary depending on our individual personal characteristics. The color that we prefer and respond to can tell us a lot about ourselves, namely about our concerns, fears, aspirations, and so on.

The greatest problem in our industry is the fine line between all the scientific research and the reality. Despite all the progress in the study of color and its impact on a person, it is still not possible to find a clear correspondence between them. Therefore, the piece below is the belief of our DesignContest team, which is based on personal experience and partly supported by independent studies and known facts. We do not pretend to know the truth – we just hope that our observations will help you in this or that way, when it comes to using colour in practice. Continue reading »

Apr 082016

sun in the sky

In every side-show tent most of the audience are taken in by the illusionist: either marvelling at the magic, or strenuously looking for “how it’s done”. The elephant disappears; the rabbit comes out of the hat. How extraordinary, wonderful, impossible. And it’s precisely because it is so obviously impossible that we look so hard for the trick, we know that what we see can’t really be happening. If the illusionist is good you won’t even be looking near the right place to see the sleight of hand – it’s already happened.

When you come into the world, you find yourself in one or another side-show tent, depending on geography, time, surroundings, parents. The side-show is the world presented to you by society, by the media, politics, corporations, the powerful and so-on -  wherever they got their own beliefs from.  The illusions are not so obvious because they are familiar, they are what you are expecting to see. If an elephant can be made to disappear, how much easier to win an argument, to convince people of how it is and what they should do. We are fooled into believing that life is just about jobs, markets, rulers, priests, science, progress, ambition, success, being rich, famous, or rebelling against the injustice of those who are; that you should really be thinking about it as a ‘financial asset’, or a game of monopoly to be played and, above all, to be a winner.

If the illusion is one that you are susceptible to, or want to believe, you won’t even be looking for a trick: after all, no elephants are disappearing (actually, come to think of it they are!).  The protagonists appear to be presenting the different, reasonable views, and arguing fiercely with each other about which are the right rules or what the rules should be, or what is right, and what is wrong. As we puzzle confusedly over those questions, we forget to ask ourselves why we are even playing the game, and are fooled by the superficial magic.

Yet even in the illusionist’s audience a few are not taken in, not asking where the trick is, and not interested in playing the game. They leave the tent and find a world of sun, sky and trees and what is real.


Feb 242014


When was the last time you gave some serious thought to the business of making decisions? Rarely? Never? Isn’t it strange, given that making decisions is what we as humans spend most of our time doing, that very few of us will actively consider how we do this and importantly, what we might do to get better at it.

cupcakes_1Consider these two little cupcakes. If you had to choose one, which would it be?  Would it be the cupcake with the cherry on, or the other one?  The bigger or the smaller one? Neither? What do you think you would base your choice on?  What are you experiencing when thinking about how you might make a decision? Continue reading »

Feb 032014

“Earthrise” 24th December 1968 by astronaut William Anders, Apollo 8 mission (1)

“Like so many iconic American products, Los Angeles smog is now being made in China”

Noticing this intriguing statement in a cafe newspaper the other day, we continued reading. The brief excerpt went on to say that recent research concluded that “Pollution caused by China’s manufacturing for export contributes as much as 12 to 24% of daily sulphate levels in the Western US”. (2)

The “Boomerang effect”
That in itself is interesting, as it demonstrates that the by-products of industry are being exported half way across the world. (It makes one wonder where the leaks from Fukushima will end up…but that’s another story). What is pertinent, and somewhat ironic, is that this increase in air pollution has actually been caused by companies in the US. Continue reading »

Dec 142013


We’re running a workshop, Adrian is in full flow delivering our “Practical Thinking” programme. I set up my laptop on a side table and to make the most use of down time as it occurs, I decide to write a piece for Fellowship of Mind

At this point  I hear a light knock on the door and go out to answer it. A construction worker in a high-viz jacket tells me he was just passing and points to a bag that has been left in the corridor and could I take care of it? I carry it quietly, intrigued and a little anxious about finding its owner, back into the room, as the delegates grapple with critical thinking exercises.  Prompted by the mystery parcel, my storytelling imagination weaves a metaphorical tale…

Continue reading »

Nov 182013


You know what they say: “It’s been a journey”. I say it glibly, with my tongue firmly placed in my cheek.  This saying, (familiar to most for all the wrong reasons) has become very clichéd since the likes of X Factor and other similar Saturday night TV talent shows have claimed it for their own.  Never one to want to run with the crowd,  I hold my breath and say instead: “Maybe, I have grown – no that’s not it…hmmm – I think I have learnt a lot!

Let me set the scene.  It is mid-May 2013.  Imagine if you will, my thought processes. I am trying to bring to life an idea that has been germinating in my mind for more than a year, about how to invigorate the core Leadership programme for developing the managers of our organisation. There seemed to be something missing from our development mix, some skills these people needed that we hadn’t covered, but I couldn’t put my finger on what these were. Continue reading »

Nov 042013


“There’s mental inertia – my favourite  – which is a whole bunch of philosophies and attitudes and beliefs – about yourself, about other people, about the world we live in, about groups of people. This – all – must – go! “  Gabrielle Roth,  (1941-2012)  Founder of the world-renowned movement practice “5 Rhythms” Dance

Loosening up
We’re  in a high-ceilinged hall. There’s fourty five or so of us, male and female. We’re at the start of a 5 Rhythms dance class, loosening up minds and bodies, rousing physical and mental energies to overcome inertia, getting present, clear, and creative.

Warming up, we’re moving in all directions to flowing music as we begin to collectively inhabit the empty room. Walking barefoot on the warm, wooden, well-worn floor, we’re  shuffling, strolling, striding, as befits our mood while traversing the space. Sensing those around us as we do so, we catch each other’s eyes, self-consciously or in recognition, notice each other’s form, movement and demeanour. Continue reading »

Oct 032013
"Lady with an Ermine" by Leonardo da Vinci, 1489-90.

“Lady with an Ermine” by Leonardo da Vinci, 1489-90.

It is almost a truism that we, ourselves, are our own worst enemies when it comes to understanding ourselves and thinking clearly. Without investigating the pioneering psychoanalytical work of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, I would like to take a simple model of a conscious/unconscious mind and see how that might help us understand ourselves a little better and help us think more clearly.

Why we do things is often quite mysterious. I want to explore how accessing the less accessible parts of our minds and personality enable us to think more clearly and make decisions that are more in tune with our whole personality rather than based on purely rational factors.

Let’s look at some history of the idea of “outside influencers” within the human mind, some modern examples of the shadow self and how this might work in practice when it comes to making decisions and sticking to them. Continue reading »

Aug 302013


We have to understand that the world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplation. The hand is more important than the eye … The hand is the cutting edge of the mind.
— Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man, Episode 3 “The Grain in the Stone”. (1)

Getting into a state of “Flow”
Every so often, I find I have to take time out from the world of words and abstract concepts: sharing ideas, negotiating, imagining, listening and discussing things. I most easily enter that happy state of flow where time disappears and I become absorbed (2) , when I’m silently and contentedly alone, non-verbally doing something in a concentrated way – and most often when I’m using my hands, where I can see that what I’m doing with them matters. Continue reading »

Jul 282013


We must have time and a mind of our own if we are to improve the quality of our thinking

“  to loosely paraphrase Virginia Woolfe (1)
We each have a “mind”. To what extent we experience this mind as “our own” seems, I would suggest, to be open to question!

I don’t know about you, but just being able to focus without distraction on one thing at a time, on something we’ve decided we want and need to focus on, just doesn’t seem easy. We get side-tracked, off balance, overloaded. We think too much, we think too little; our ability to persistently direct our thinking in straight lines in relation to a chosen topic often gets derailed. We have a long day in the office, or we wake up in the morning and find our mental energy buzzing away on its own without any conscious effort on our part – responding to remembered thoughts, concocting emotional slights, worrying about targets, and just generally cogitating to no effect. Continue reading »