Collaborate to Innovate - the Custard Factory hosts fascinating talk - Custard Factory

Birmingham's creative quarter.

Collaborate to Innovate – the Custard Factory hosts fascinating talk

Posted by Chris Pettitt on March 01, 2017

Two of the core strands of the Custard Factory’s ethos are INNOVATION and COLLABORATION. As we continue to grow and diversify our creative community, it is those twin principles that underpin the many different businesses at work here.

It was a real pleasure to invite Wesley Meyer, associate and creative with international design giants Gensler, to speak about the immense power of Innovation and Collaboration last week.

The lunchtime talk attracted an enthusiastic audience, coming from a vivid spectrum of business and the creative industries in the West Midlands region.

Describing himself as a ‘wayfinder’, Wesley provided those in attendance with some fantastic strategies for encouraging collaborative working techniques in their own practice, which he argued could enhance the chances of successful innovation and ultimately, improve results.

These included the ‘Pen Trick’, a stealth-like manoeuvre that encourages a tentative collaborator to take control of a process subconsciously by giving them the time and space to ease into a task and ‘pick up the pen’.

Wesley guided the guests through the stages of this simple technique: take a handful of pens and lay them on the table but don’t prompt the other person to grab one. Instead just chat, bounce ideas, talk about the weather perhaps. In time, your partner’s hand will naturally reach for a pen, maybe to start doodling or to jot down ideas. Success! Once the pen is in the hand, the process has begun! And yet there has been no pressure applied to generate an idea.

This was just one of many ideas that Wesley put forward during his presentation that the receptive attendees spoke of wanting to try; others included drawing, model making and simple post-it notes. One of the guests, Alex Pitts of Applause IT, told us a few days later:

“It was a really interesting talk and has certainly sparked some ideas about how I work with my clients. I even managed to get the understanding – trust – risk – innovation idea into a call today!”

Speaking afterwards, Wesley too was pleased with the positive atmosphere the event created among the audience.

“The best part was being able to have a discussion with such a wide ranging group of people: artists, designers, technologists and fabricators,” Wesley enthused. “We’re all pushing for innovation.”

The key messages Wesley urged the spectators to take away from his presentation were threefold:

– People first
– Process, process, process
– No throw-away projects

It is these guiding values that Wesley believes lie at the heart of effective collaboration, and judging by the positive response to his talk they are beliefs shared by many. For us at the Custard Factory, they are also values that add to a reciprocal culture we embrace among our community of pioneering companies and independent retailers.

The Custard Factory’s Sarah Benn, who organised the event says,

“Wesley and his colleagues at Gensler really encapsulate the burgeoning spirit of creativity and innovation we are bringing to Digbeth, and his insightful strategies for nurturing collaboration were very well received.”

“We have an incredibly exciting programme of similar events and meetups coming throughout the year and Wesley has set a very high bar!”

He has indeed. Thanks to Wesley and to all of those who came along. We will be announcing details of our next event very soon so keep an eye on our What’s On Guide and social media channels for updates.

If you are interested in becoming a part of the creative Custard Factory community, we’d love to talk to you. We have a flexible range of spaces that can cater for businesses of all types. Email us today on or call 0121 224 8401