Becca Barnes: World Creativity and Innovation Day

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Apr 22, 2024

As it was World Creativity and Innovation Day on Sunday (21 April), Becca Barnes, a Graduate Consultant in the NECS Consultancy team, shares her views on creativity and innovation, how she uses this in her day-to-day work and how clients can benefit from this.

“Those who know me would likely use ‘creative’ as an adjective to describe my personality and working style. This probably stems from my musical background and the way I see the world through a ‘big-picture’ lens. Whilst creativity and innovation is not something that comes naturally to everyone, it is something that everyone can achieve. This blog is a reflection of my own experience of how creativity and innovation have benefitted our clients.

“In its simplest form, creativity is the generation of ideas that are both novel and useful and innovation is the implementation of a creative idea. Creativity and innovation are both about having a mindset that is imaginative and open to doing things differently. This is incredibly important in our Consultancy practice, as one of our key roles is to support clients with change and problem solving, often by approaching things differently.

“Creativity benefits our clients by:

Enabling creative problem solving – Creativity is at the heart of problem solving and usually begins using an interactive tool to generate ideas. Brainstorming is the most widely used creative thinking technique across all industries, and the longevity of its use since the 1930s reflects its effectiveness as a way to generate lots of ideas and start the problem-solving process. NECS Consultancy often does this in collaboration with key client stakeholders to ensure we find the best possible solution to our clients’ problems and I have used different variations of brainstorming including silent brainstorming to allow for inclusivity of all voices in the creative problem solving process.

Improving collaboration – Using creativity techniques with our clients results in increased engagement from key stakeholders, with participants building off each other’s suggestions and using a solutions-focused mindset to collaborate and come up with innovative solutions to the problem at hand. We have particular experience in bringing stakeholders together who work in different sectors or departments and have competing priorities to work together towards a shared goal and develop innovation solutions.

Encouraging big-picture thinking – One of the key things NECS Consultancy does is encourage our clients to adopt big-picture thinking to broaden perspective, and to look beyond the problem at hand. Whilst being mindful of current pressures and challenges across the health and social care system, NECS Consultancy carves out time for our clients to have the open space to explore what the ideal future could look like.

Driving continuous improvement – Continuous improvement is one of the fundamental principles that drives innovation and therefore success for our clients. NECS consultants work with our clients to create a culture of open communication and collaboration, to enable stakeholders to feel empowered to contribute ideas and suggestions throughout the whole creativity process. Consequently, this taps into the creativity and knowledge across our client organisations and leads to breakthrough ideas rooted in subject matter expertise. Therefore, through continuous improvement, NECS Consultancy support our clients to make incremental changes and enhancements to current processes, pathways and services.

Improving outcomes for patients – The creativity and innovation process that we guide our clients through unlocks and builds on the subject matter expertise across the organisation to allow for the generation of creative solutions. Throughout the whole process, NECS Consultancy ensures that improved outcomes for patients and service users remain at the heart of the creative process.

“To give you an example of where creativity has benefited our clients, in 2023, I worked with stakeholders from a Welsh local authority, health board and voluntary organisations to develop a feasibility study for the creation of wellbeing hubs across Wrexham.

“We facilitated a series of workshops to encourage big picture thinking and collaboration across the three sectors to work together to design a new model for integrated hubs. We used a technique called ‘Postcards from the Future’ which enabled stakeholders to visualise what the idea scenario would look like in 5 years’ time from both the perspective of a citizen and their role as professionals. Following analysis of the visions, we created a set of principles co-created by stakeholders from the three organisations and used this to guide the direction of the future workshops.

“Throughout all the workshops, there was a strong focus on continuous improvement, and the activities were designed to critically evaluate solutions and suggest improvements to all creative ideas. This was achieved through an exercise called ‘Now! How? Wow!’ which encouraged solutions to be designed through three lenses: the short-term wins, the medium term design with resource and planning, and the long-term aspirational design. Additionally, I facilitated a variation of different thinking hats and peer review activities to refine and further enhance the development of solutions.  

“NECS Consultancy ensured all creative thinking activities at the workshop were centred around the need of patients and citizens in Wrexham, with population health data of the local area available on each table to stimulate creative thinking. The workshops brought people together from different sectors to collaborate, share ideas, challenge each other’s thinking and result in aligned visions and solutions. Creative thinking can generate a wealth of ideas which in turn can lead to complexity around reaching agreement. However this form of collaboration allows for the exchange of a huge quantity of ideas which we analysed and synthesised to recommend a hub and spoke model that not only reflected the needs of citizens, but was co-designed and mutually agreed, in line with the shared vision, across health, social care and the voluntary sector.

“By embracing creativity and innovation as core aspects of our delivery model, NECS Consultancy inspires its clients to think outside the box, challenge conventional thinking and develop and embed innovation solutions resulting in improved outcomes for patients.”


Belussi, F. (2012) ‘Deconstructing creativity’, in F. Belussi and U. Staber (eds), Managing Networks for Creativity. New York: Routledge, pp. 3–29.

De Bono, E (1968). New Think: the use of lateral thinking in the generation of new ideas. New York: Basic Books

Dawson, P (2021). Managing Change, Creativity and Innovation. Andriopoulos, Costas.