Leading lights

On our recent away-day, cruising down the Leeds Liverpool Canal from Barnoldswick to Barrowford, I set the challenge of writing a blog, with an accompanying photo, that illustrates or resonates with our values. (In fairness, it was Claire who suggested the value based blogs as a means of getting us to think about them more).

We’re really proud of our values. They took a lot of working out a couple of years ago with the help of the wonderful Louise Yates from Clear Perspectives.  In case you’ve forgotten they are:

“We believe that our work should be fun and enjoyable; that we should do work with purpose; that new and good ideas inspire us; that we love adventures, big and small, and that we will value and respect whom we work with if they do the same for us.”

At the time, we also came up with a Vision – be a leading light in the cultural landscape and a mission – to facilitate human evolution through creative encounters.

I my mind these all go together as a package of what we are about, why we do what we do and how we go about it. To that end the photo that I chose relates to our vision and to the values of good ideas and big adventures.



For me the most exciting bit of our canal trip was going through the Foulridge Tunnel.  it’s almost 1.5 km long and an amazing piece of engineering. The big bold, fearless audaciousness of the Georgian engineers who had the courage and belief that such things were possible and doable is inspiring.  Britain’s network of canals helped change the world.  Many failed to be profitable but the skills and ideas that came through them are amazing. Within less than 100 years many were superseded by the railways but it was the engineering innovations developed in building the canals that made the railways possible.

Similarly the space race in the 60s and 70s cost NASA and Russia billions with little direct financial return but most of our modern technology owes some small part to the audacious engineers and scientists who strived to achieve what a lot of reasonable men and women believed impossible.

Back in 1903 George Bernard Shaw wrote in ‘Man and Superman’, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

It is worrying that we seem to be living in a ‘bean counting’ and NIMBY age of ‘reasonable men’. It is hard to imagine the Leeds Liverpool canal being built today.  HS2 is proving to be a real challenge. The developers are having to prove the economic benefits that will take place in twenty years time. Impossible, irrelevant and myopic. We need more audacity, more ideas and more adventures. Lets build tunnels.