John Willshire

John Willshire is the founder of innovation studio, Smithery.

Smithery helps organisations Make Things People Want, rather than Make People Want Things. It lies somewhere on a strange map that features Product & Service Design, Research, Media, Marketing, Innovation and Organisational theory.

A proponent of a constructionist learning theory (i.e. Making Is Thinking), John has recently completed a new thesis on the relationship in organisations between People and Space, which has spawned a lot of tools, instruments and methods on how you can make the things you want to happen, happen (someone observed one of them “looks a bit... Gallifreyan” which is brilliant.)

Since 2011, Smithery has worked with numerous people including Konica Minolta, Penguin Random House, The Design Museum, Experian, Oxfam, Google, Carlsberg, Adaptive Lab, Gravity Road, Saïd Business School at The University of Oxford, London College of Communications, The Huffington Post, Royal Mail, Samsung, Google, Channel 4 and Skype.

John also created Artefact Cards, a way to help people and teams play with ideas, making up card games to find better ideas whilst having more fun. There are now over a million Artefact Cards are now out there in the world, helping people work in new ways, and they’ve been covered by everyone from the Financial Times and Maria Popova’s Brainpickings.

Prior to founding Smithery, John spent seven years at PHD Media in London, becoming Head of Innovation in 2007 when that wasn’t a thing.

Clearleft says

John is one of our favourite speakers, and if the team had their way, he’d speak at every one of our events. The perfect mix of practical and provocative, if you’ve not seen John before, you’re in for a treat.

Talk: Make Your Marks Like Tony Stark

You don’t have the endless resources that miffed multi-billionaire orphan Bruce Wayne has. You haven’t had the good fortune to be bitten by a mysteriously spritely radioactive arachnid like young Peter Parker. And you’re certainly not an alien made invincible by the coincidence that your home world orbited a massive, luminous sphere of plasma that was a different colour from Earth’s. But maybe, just maybe, you can overcome these obstacles in your life and work by thinking about how to make things like Tony Stark...

Workshop: Flow Engines - Hack The Way You Work, Not The Time You Have

We worry a lot about the time we have, or don’t have, to get things done. What if instead we concentrated on the way we work, and the rate we work at, in order to make our time (or lack of it) less relevant? During this half day workshop we’ll explore ways to create Flow Engines, a way to focus creative energy as much as possible in order to turn it into productive forward motion. The session will cover:

  • How to start well and focus attention
  • How to create rich physical environments to create ideas within
  • How to use novelty, randomness and complexity to stimulate new ideas
  • How to use maps to examine the relationships between things, and identify next steps
  • How to finish well, and embody final ideas