This image depicts industrialising pharma manufacturing

In this blog, John Dyson explores how the environment and culture of collaboration can significantly impact problem-solving and innovation. Drawing on practical experiences and the principles of communication, we explore the concept of creating a 'Grand Hotel of Value' —a dedicated space designed to foster creativity and collaboration in the pharmaceutical industry. Discover how this approach has started to transform cross-company and cross-sector teamwork, setting the stage for future advancements.

Some time ago now, after I had really started to explore in a very practical way the ideas of collaboration, we stumbled across a factor which on reflection should have been more obvious; working in an environment which had a strong architectural inheritance. The place, the environment, the location , the aesthetics all had a part to play, and a very significant part to play, in the quality of collaborative problem solving.

Albert Mehrabian's rule in communication is that the spoken word only carries only 7% of the emotional impact, 38% is the tone of voice and 55% is the facial expression. In a similar vein we found that only a small part of collaboration is bringing people together. A much bigger impact comes from the place, where it’s done, and bigger still is the culture imbued.

You have to take care of what people hear, what they see and what they feel.

This fired our imagination about the creation of a Grand Hotel of Value. A beautiful, relaxing place to stay for people who want to solve problems together. This could be done over breakfast, while swimming in the pool, formally in a meeting room, on the terrace, in the bar. Collisions of people and ideas in a setting where the mundane can be left in the lobby.

A frivolous thought. Well may be, but we did not lose sight of what we felt were the opportunities of place-making and culture setting in being an important element in solving some of the big problems in the world of infrastructure.

Zoom forward several years and the moment seemed right. Work and projects in a number of business sectors had demonstrated that there is an imperative to be able to industrialise technologies faster and to do so sustainably and cost effectively. There are proven approaches to doing this, the problem seems to be the adoption of these approaches.

Our first attempt at the Grand Hotel of Value, was in fact more of a reception. Key client organizations in the pharmaceutical industry came together under the umbrella of Accelerate Pharma to be part of the thinking to address the opportunities.

With a great location, opposite the Watson Crick Institute, a light and vista filled room, with good food and an open and relaxed agenda and pace, this approach to cross-company, cross-sector collaboration was started.

If you want to know how it went, read my next blog, which will share the learning and suggest paths forward.

John Dyson, Consultant, Bryden Wood, The Dyson Project, GSK, University of Birmingham
Professor John Dyson spent more than 25 years at GlaxoSmithKline, eventually ending his career as VP, Head of Capital Strategy and Design, where he focused on developing a long-term strategic approach to asset management.
While there, he engaged Bryden Wood and together they developed the Front End Factory, a collaborative endeavor to explore how to turn purpose and strategy into the right projects – which paved the way for Design to Value. He is committed to the betterment of lives through individual and collective endeavors.
As well as his business and pharmaceutical experience, Dyson is a Professor of Human Enterprise at the University of Birmingham, focusing on project management, business strategy, and collaboration.
Additionally, he is a qualified counselor with a private practice and looks to bring the understanding of human behavior into business and projects.
To learn more about our Design to Value philosophy, read Design to Value: The architecture of holistic design and creative technology by Professor John Dyson, Mark Bryden, Jaimie Johnston MBE and Martin Wood. Available to purchase at RIBA Books.