Street Wisdom for Kiss House

By Rachel Crowther

The Kiss House team are a creative bunch. We are normally found researching ways to create better homes and decarbonise the construction industry. Once every couple of months, we can be found in a team session focusing on team development and wellbeing — however, we have not been found pounding the local streets during these sessions, until now…

In our last session our coach Kate Southerby, with whom we’ve been working for two years, introduced us to the Street Wisdom concept. Kate was influenced to dive into Street Wisdom after reading, and getting us to read, “Indistractable,” by Nir Eyal. She felt that the concepts of Indistractibility and Street Wisdom went hand in hand to help us with our mental awareness and presence of mind. 

When Kate first described how we would be spending our morning we weren’t sure what to expect. Reactions were mixed, with some of the team anxious to wander the streets unclear as to how they might “provide answers,” whilst others were excited to get out and see what they would discover. One thing all agreed on was that it would be interesting to see how our minds reacted to this new way of thinking.

Our session was divided into three timed exercises designed to help us “tune-in” to the city and our way of thinking. Firstly, we were instructed to walk for 10 minutes looking around us, soaking in our environment and tuning into what inspired us. Next, we were instructed to “slow down” and walk significantly slower than we would naturally. It felt strange to wander with no real destination in mind, but it allowed each of us to focus our minds on the detail of the city around us, and to tune in. After each exercise we returned to our starting place and briefly discussed how we’d found the experience.

We all felt it also allowed us to gain clarity and to order our thoughts; taking time away from our desks helped us consider new ways of thinking, tackling personal mindsets and tuning into our mental wellbeing. We came off our normal routes and explored the wonder in the everyday. We looked up and around for the first time in a long while, put away our phones and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the city without feeling any pressure to do anything other than enjoy.

We all loved the final section of the challenge, which was to look for the “beauty.” Some of us found beauty within the city’s architecture by paying attention to windows, engravings, and small details we hadn’t noticed before. Others found beauty in the actions of people in the city and revelled in time spent simply observing. By this stage of the exercise, we were all on board with the format and the impact it was having on our state of mind in the moment — whilst making connections about how it might support the way we work and think in the future. We were all taking the time to look at things in a different way and were truly finding answers.

We all discovered something new, whether in our personal thoughts and feelings for example how to tackle a tough work challenge, or in the physical space of the city we inhabit. When we regrouped after the session, we all felt much calmer and reinvigorated, happy to tackle new challenges and excited to share the experiences we’d whilst wandering the streets. 

The Kiss House Street Wisdom experience was rewarding. Stepping away from our desks and smartphones and taking to the streets was a very different approach to the workday, and everyone felt able to generate new ways of thinking. It allowed us space to creatively care for our mental wellbeing, to consider different ways of problem-solving, and to appreciate new opportunities and challenges. It gave us a time-out, sparked creative thinking, and helped build our team dynamic.

We all appreciated the time alone with the thoughts and feelings generated as we wandered the city streets and will be taking time to ask the streets for answers in the future. Now we want to apply what we learnt to delivering the best we can for our customers and Kiss House.