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Creative Space

by John Varney, founder of High Trenhouse – Centre for Management Creativity

I am preparing a presentation on “Space for Co-thinking” Creative Spacefor the business department of the Jagiellonian University of Krakow. Reflecting on how creative work has evolved at High Trenhouse during the last 40 years I have come to understand how appropriate physical space needs to be overlaid with (metaphorical) emotional space to contain relationships as well as cognitive space where ideas can co-mingle. When all the conditions are optimised, the space between them is pregnant with creativity. Then it is ready for facilitation to work its magic.

In our modern era people are being manipulated and exploited, mostly through pleasure seeking, instant gratification and the stimulation of unnecessary appetites. Because creativity occurs mostly in the space between us and is dependent on high levels of trust, attention, sharing of information, pooling of diversity and so on, conditions for co-creation have to be carefully nurtured. Creative space rarely arises by chance and most spaces in which we are expected to be productive are seriously out of balance.

For instance, you book a room for a team meeting and, although it may be technically well-equipped, it perhaps lacks a good outlook (or even a window). Because “meeting” means no more than being in the same room, the décor frustrates your attempts to focus, the furniture no doubt needs re-arranging and the room has no soul. While providing a tolerable physical environment, display surfaces may be insufficient and the confines of space will hardly allow ideas to flow. Distractions abound and the energy of your event will leak away through the bar, dining room and other channels during breaks and overnight. Getting the depth of relationship your event demands will be difficult when so many aspects of space are stacked against you.

Of course, your ingenuity and dedication may enable you to overcome many of the obstacles. However, I urge you to take note of the multiple qualities of space that make a difference. Resist the temptation to put up with whatever space your client is content to use, just because it is convenient or cheap or because it is what they always use. Discover spaces that work best for you and then insist on using them so that you can do your best work on your client’s behalf.

Forty years of being both provider and user have enabled us to produce, here at High Trenhouse, special conditions that work exceptionally well for small residential groups (e.g. management teams) seeking a quantum leap in performance. Come and see for yourself. No doubt there are other places that have some of the desirable qualities. They will be worth seeking out. When you find them please tell us so we can champion their cause.


The Patterning Instinct

The Patterning InstinctBook review

by Jeremy Lent

This is a superb easy-to-read history of human cultures around the globe from the earliest days until now with glimpses into possible future scenarios. It stimulates an off-world perspective that might help you think afresh about society in our modern era. Strongly recommended.

See full review


Discover the Dales – 29 September – 1 October 2017

Discover the Dales   29 September   1 October 2017

Enjoy a luxurious four-day walking holiday house-party with Jonathan Smith to guide you through some of the finest scenery in the Dales, introducing you to the rich history and folklore of this fascinating area.
Waking up to the quiet of Malham Moor and the beautiful gardens overlooking the Malham Tarn (SSSI and internationally acclaimed Ramsar site) sets the scene for each day. Well-designed guided walks ensure a most refreshing break from the rigors of everyday life.
Return to the peace and comfort of High Trenhouse to refresh and relax in good company. Your group will have exclusive use of this wonderful retreat, famed for delicious food and warm hospitality. Seclusion and safety enable you to fully appreciate the beautiful natural surroundings.
Jonathan Smith, experienced mountain guide, outdoor enthusiast and lover of the Dales, is your guide on the walks and also your host for dinner. For further information or to book click here


The Systems View of Life

The Systems View of LifeBook Review

By Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi

This book argues convincingly for a change of thinking from the fragmentary reductionism of popular science (what we learned at school) to integrated thinking in terms of systems. We learn how life has evolved and that living systems (including us) have co-evolved through relationship. Failure to grasp this connectedness is leading humanity towards its demise which is countered by proposals for unifying the web of life.

See full review


High Trenhouse Management Centre teams up with Land Rover Experience

High Trenhouse Management Centre teams up with Land Rover Experience

High Trenhouse in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales provides ‘exclusive use’ for business or leisure: a quality environment, with privacy, seclusion and supportive discreet service. The exceptional facilities include 2 self-contained buildings with well-equipped conference and meeting rooms. Enjoy superb hospitality, beautiful natural landscape, splendid isolation and in a central UK location with easy access.

Land Rover Experience is at the ready to collect and return guests from Skipton railway station or Leeds or Manchester airport. Also they are offering a full program of team exercises on Malham Moor, Dales Tours or Geo-caching team challenges. This excellent offering can enhance any program at any time of year. They have 2 Open Days planned to experience High Trenhouse and Land Rover Experience working together on Thursday 1st June and Friday 14th July. This is a perfect opportunity for anyone interested in exploring the very best venue for their company’s future strategic planning, leadership or team building events


Finding Earth, Finding Soul – The invisible path to authentic leadership

Book ReviewFinding Earth, Finding Soul   The invisible path to authentic leadership

By Tim Macartney 
Tim Macartney’s book is one man’s testimony to the need for find one’s inner wisdom and to use that to shape your life circumstances to the service of the greater good of the earth. He makes a strong plea for a different way of being and, through his own experience shows how that applies to the work of leadership. Is authenticity anything less than this?

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Challenge and Opportunity – Be Prepared!

Challenge and Opportunity   Be Prepared!

With the referendum decision for the UK to leave the EU we are embarking on a new era. Nobody knows what is to come but the early days will surely see the shifting of tectonic plates in the business world. Old structures will crumble and we will need to create new ones to fit the changed circumstances. Make sure you are geared up to make the most of the opportunities thrown up by the chaos.

How should we prepare? How can we be sure we are fit for this new future? How can we prepare ourselves and our organisations to thrive in the new uncertainty?

Take time out to think about what lies ahead and to prepare and strengthen your organisation. Two days at High Trenhouse will prove to be a sound investment in your future.

This must be the ideal time to think through various possible scenarios for your organisation. Scenario thinking opens your mind to new possibilities so that you are able to recognise opportunities when they arise. It prepares your team to cope with the unforeseeable and improves their capability. Out of it will emerge new strategies and the people to deliver them.

Bring your trusted consultants or let us work with you to develop a developmental programme that will give you confidence when many around you are floundering, that yours will be a story of success.


Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise

Book ReviewLeading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise

By Peter Cook

Peter Cook is a talented jazz musician who brings his love of improvisation into his observations of creativity applied in organisations to drive competitive innovation. This well-written and engaging book is full of useful know-how. The narrative is copiously illustrated with anecdotes and mini case-studies that bring the topic to life. As the title states, the book links leadership to enterprise through creativity and innovation; a continuum of fresh thinking that will benefit anyone in organisation and in life.

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Green the landscape and stop the floods

On Malham Moor, at the very source of the river Aire, we are comfortably above flood level and our sympathies go out to all the people downstream who are suffering the effects of climate change. It has always been obvious to us that draining the uplands carries water to downstream cities all the faster. The current widespread floods will have alerted many to the need for more trees on the uplands; they absorb water and their roots hold the soil. Would it not make sense to use a bit of Quantitative Easing to employ young people to plant millions of trees that would save the cities and create a new industry. Do politicians have any foresight?

At High Trenhouse people have sponsored tree planting over the years to reduce their carbon footprint and we are delighted to be described as ‘the place in the wood’. Happily we have no more room, so we recommend now that you sponsor trees through the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, www.ydmt.org. Sponsoring a tree makes an ideal gift or fitting memento!


Reinventing Organisations

Book ReviewReinventing Organisations

By Frederic Laloux

Laloux spells out a whole system for understanding the evolution of organisations and describes actual case studies of those he sees as being at the leading edge. Although rather long the book has a wealth of ideas and information of interest to everyone in management today. This is an important book.

See full review.