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to the heart
the creative problem solving agency

We guide individuals, groups, communities and organisations who face questions, challenges, transitions and change.

If you are stuck, we will work with you to get you unstuck. Whatever your challenge, we will help you gain clarity and develop creative solutions to the heart of the problem you face. Whatever mountain you want to climb or river you need to cross, we are here to guide you.

That's our promise.

The way we do this is through research, coaching, training and creative facilitation, and with the many tools and processes we have now collected or created over the last 16 years.

The projects we get involved in often relate to the need for re-connecting, understanding, creative thinking, collaboration, insights, innovation and co-creation.

We hold spaces and build bridges for sustainable and positive change.

To Our Story

We love people

to the heart was initially founded in 2000 as a specialist, cross-cultural, qualitative research agency. We know and understand people well and have extensive expertise of how communication is influenced by gender, culture, ethnicity and many more internal and external factors.

In 2005, the company grew and evolved with an offering focused on creative problem solving. Co-creation and creative facilitation became our forte.

Since then, we have also become consistently involved in facilitating transitions and change – with individuals and organisations.

In our experience, many problems and obstacles to change start with people!

So, today, we love to help people connect, re-connect and share, in order to facilitate the understanding and change that they need.

We are passionate about sustainability

We love projects that contribute to the development of sustainable solutions to the current problems of our world.

We believe that change is achieved through nurturing sustainable relationships with ourselves, with others, with the rest of the world, and especially, with nature. And we offer ways to help people re-connect with all.

One of these ways is Bohmian dialogue – one where everyone is heard without judgement, questions or comments and where collective understanding is allowed to emerge naturally. Over the last 10 years, we have also developed our own dialogue tools to aid authentic collaboration and sharing within groups.

The values we hold dear

Curiosity

Curiosity

Authenticity

Authenticity

Passion

Passion

Growth

Growth

Care

Care

We work to grow awareness and openness. Without curiosity we cannot learn, understand and contribute.
The most revered trait in creative leadership. We hold space for physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wholeness in individuals and groups.
It's often difficult to keep positive or motivated, when facing challenging situations. Unless we are fuelled by purpose and armed with strong emotional resilience.
There is much to learn about growth from the natural world. Nature is an inherent part of many of our programmes.
We work in a spirit of service. Helping you is what matters to us most.

To What We Do

Creative facilitation is at the heart of what we do: whether we help people from different worlds co-create, run a large innovation event for you, train or guide some of your staff, or help you deal with some personal challenge at work with some individual coaching.

Facilitation

Facilitation

Training

Training

Coaching

Coaching

User Research

User Research

Facilitation

Our focus tends to be on triggering and fostering collaborative practices. In our experience, it is what groups need the most. How to collectively solve problems, envision the future and create what is needed from us, when we cannot "be" together?

What we know we bring is objectivity and neutrality, as well as skills and expertise in cross-cultural communication and group dynamics. As our client, you can relax and fully engage in the activities designed and agreed with you.

We run a wide variety of workshops which often include soft skills training – e.g. deep listening, dialogue, creative thinking, compassionate relating – and which have served a very wide range of purposes – understanding a context, establishing a diagnostic, evaluating, generating ideas, or developing tactics, strategies or visions.

Our approach to creative facilitation is moulded by:

  • The Creative Problem Solving process (Osborn-Parnes)
  • Synectics – for metaphorical journeys
  • De Bono – for lateral thinking tools
  • Theory U – for dialogue tools
  • Nancy Kline – for thinking partnerships

 

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Training

We provide structured training for individuals and groups at all levels. It is often an inherent part of our facilitation work – for example providing training on the creative mindset before an ideation session.

Here are some examples of the kind of training we run:

  • Deep listening and dialogue sharing for more effective communication and decision making. Often include the practice of mindfulness, authentic communication and appreciation
  • Authentic communication with the wisdom of nature and horses
  • Team building with Lego® Serious Play®
  • Creative thinking for more productive individual and collective idea generation, sometimes including the FourSight assessment
  • Creative Problem Solving so that you not only generate great ideas but also know how to select them, develop them and put them into action
  • Co-creation to help you learn the do's and don'ts of creating with your own clients – whether these be consumers or professionals, private or public sector workers, neighbours or family members, homemakers or CEOs

 

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Coaching

Our coaching practice evolved organically in response to individual clients' requests. We offer personal coaching to help individuals during transitions.

The first one hour session is free and takes place face-to-face, if possible. Once you have committed to working with us, we build a schedule of 45 minute sessions that take place via Skype, whenever convenient.

We adopt a holistic coaching approach which considers your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing. It is based on the extremely effective practice of deep listening and sensitive mirroring.

Some of the tools we bring come from:

  • Performance Coaching – with a focus on nurturing awareness and responsibility
  • Conscious Business Principles – when working on authentic communication and having difficult conversations
  • Creative Problem Solving tools and techniques – especially those aimed at openness and exploration
  • Focusing – helping you reconnect with your inner knowing
  • The Four Shields – helping shine new light on your true nature

 

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User Research

We conduct end-user research programmes that are investigative, creative and qualitative in focus. These include ethnographic journeys, co-creation activities, live, on-line – using our partner's, Reality Check Inc., online platform, Aha!® - and off-line sharing.

This is to meet clients' increasing desire to get closer to their own clients, in order to really understand their needs first hand and develop solutions that best meet those, in close collaboration with them.

We offer extensive experience in cross-cultural user research covering diverse subjects ranging from tea to IT! to the heart was originally founded as a qualitative research boutique agency and has experience of an extensive range of fields and sectors, including pharmaceuticals, leisure, travel/tourism, IT, personal care, cosmetics and FMCG.

We have worked with patients and healthcare specialists, drug users and governmental institutions, children and the elderly, car mechanics and farmers...

We also collaborate with others, bringing our creative facilitation expertise to others' projects.

 

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To How We Do It

Influences

Influences

Techniques

Techniques

Tools

Tools

The roots of our work are in social- and eco-psychology.

Our mentors have been:

Alan Branthwaite
Mary Goodyear
Dr. Kirton
Joe Miguez
William Sturner

Creative Problem Solving (CPS) - Osborn-Parnes Process

CPS provides us with a flexible and empowering framework to research, document, and generate ideas, develop solutions and implement actions for many life, community and business challenges. Its value is supported by extensive academic research and diverse professional applications across the world.

Theory U

Theory U is a change management process which was initially developed by a team at MIT, Boston. It has since been firmly established as an innovative and very effective approach to change, over the last 10 years, by the work of Otto Scharmer and the Presencing Institute. It has been tried and tested in a wide range of organisational, institutional and social development projects around the world. It has also contributed to the emergence of mindfulness and dialogue as key working practices, especially when dealing with large teams and complex systemic issues.

Conscious Business Principles

These were developed by Fred Kofman – we recommend you read his book! They promote responsibility, integrity, humility, authenticity, negotiation, coordination and emotional mastery.

Nature

We have a tendency in Western and developed society to live and work detached from the natural world around us. We use a number of nature-based methods to help people reconnect to their core self, communicate more authentically and solve dilemmas or problems in groups.

Methods include Focusing, Four Shields Coaching and Equine Facilitated Learning – click on "Techniques" to learn more about these!

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Our approaches promote presence, openness, intuitive awareness, authentic and compassionate sharing, and creative collaboration.

Presencing

Focusing

This is a psychotherapeutic technique initially developed by Eugene Gendlin. Its main benefit is in re-connecting us to our inner "knowing" or intuition. It is a useful technique in learning to remain open and non-judgemental about oneself and others, and in achieving greater clarity of one's most immediate needs.

Social Theatre Presencing

Developed by Arawana Hayashi for the Presencing Institute, the approach draws on the arts and contemplative traditions to bring mindfulness, creativity and body-based learning into organisational and social change efforts.

Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL)

There is much to learn from the way horses conduct their business and deal with their relationships. These beautiful animals are powerful teachers in the way they mirror human communication and leadership. Working with horses can generate important shifts in awareness and sometimes profound personal transformations.

We partner with several organisations specialising in EFL related practices based in Europe:

The Four Shields

The Four Shields is a model based on American Indian wisdom and traditions. It provides an effective framework within which to re-establish or create balance in the perceptions of ourselves and the way we conduct our lives. The Four Shields model is a very powerful tool for enhancing our understanding of how we respond to experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.

Collaboration

Circle Work

The circle offers a completely different way to listen to one another, share one's experiences and personal narratives. There are many different ways to run circles and each has its purpose and a specific collective impact.

Generative Dialogue

Generative Dialogue is based on Theory U. It proposes that organisations are networks of conversations, and that by changing the way people talk and listen, you can change the way people act. By promoting inquiry, inclusion, spontaneity, possibility and freedom, you create the conditions for a truly constructive dialogue where future possibilities are allowed to emerge for full consideration. This increases interconnectivity, reinforces shared identity and encourages a more effective use of resources. All of this facilitates transformative change.

Lego® Serious Play®

Yes! You get to play with Lego bricks again. But these are special sets consciously designed to help people learn to share, collaborate and create more effectively. The experience is participative, playful, experiential and fully immersive. It is used by worldwide organisations for team building, knowledge sharing, strategy development, decision making and problem solving. It always scores the highest number of likes in our end-of-session feedbacks.

Co-Creation

Advanced Projective Techniques

These range from working with play dough, art materials, psycho-drawings and collages to laddering, role play, social dramatisation, improvisation and guided visualisations.

Ethnographic Journeys

We know how important it is to learn through personal observations – of our self and of others. We use ethnography to explore, understand and inspire the resolution of specific problems and technical challenges, and to stimulate the creation of new, sustainable products and services.

More about:

The list below is only illustrative of the tools we tend to use the most...

The Hogan Assessment

We have come across and tested many psychometric assessments and the Hogan assessment stands out for us for two reasons:

  1. It is a great tool to understand one's strengths - one's "bright" personality – and also identify the traits in us that can lead to stress, when under pressure - one's "dark" personality
  2. It is a positive tool in that it helps individuals grow and perform better within existing or new teams and environments

The Visual Explorer

Created by the Center of Creative Leadership, the Visual Explorer comes as a set of visuals and is a tool essentially aimed at generating genuine shared dialogue between participants. It makes the most of the fact that our brain processes information more easily and effectively through pictures rather than words.

Aha!®

We have been working in collaborative practice with RealityCheck Inc. for a number of years now and Aha!® is our preferred platform for co-creation and ethnographic journeys. It allows participants to be truly spontaneous and authentic, whilst still interacting and collaborating with others. Pictures and videos can be uploaded, as they are experienced. The platform goes beyond sharing traditional diaries to allow participants to express themselves through collages and mappings as well. This generates even more authentic and insightful narratives of their life and their experiences. Future scenarios can also be explored through pin boards and wishing walls where participants can share and create in a collaborative and visually engaging way.

The Labyrinth Walk

The labyrinth is an ancient, symbolic space enjoying many associated myths and stories, from across many centuries and cultures. We are so passionate about its power as a creative space for reflection, problem solving and team-building that it has even inspired our logo! Our latest labyrinth project saw us creating such thinking space for the Global Cleaner Production and Sustainable Consumption Conference in Barcelona in 2015 – with many enjoying a labyrinth walk for the first time.

FourSight

This assessment is a useful team-building tool and we often recommend it as preparation for innovation work. It is an insightful way to explore thinking and collaborative preferences. It also helps to establish individual and collective thinking profiles for creative problem solving.

More about:

To Who We Are

Care and passion

Caroline

to the heart was founded in 2000, as a specialist, cross-cultural and qualitative research agency by Caroline Päkel.

The company quickly grew through personal recommendations, with a strong network of local and international partners. This resulted in work on a wide variety of client accounts. These have mostly been large multi-national corporate organisations with a range of consulting, facilitation, training and user research needs. The company is also increasingly engaged with public sector and community work, running small and large collaborative events and consultations.

In 2005, to the heart was re-launched as a creative problem solving agency integrating user research within larger solution seeking or creative programmes. Since then, training and coaching have become natural additions to the services we provide.

Our work is always conducted from a place of service to you.

Collaborative practice

We work in collaborative practice with a network of experts. These are people we respect, know well and trust, and who share our ethics and values. For each project we mix and match the right experts to provide a team of specialists with the skills to meet your particular challenges.

Our network has grown world-wide over the last 25 years.

Here are some of the beautiful people we collaborate with:

Experience and wisdom

The impulse to create to the heart was rooted in Caroline's desire to combine the personal challenges of motherhood with her professional passion for research excellence.

Caroline's passion for people and for the creation of meaningful conversations led her to explore ways to evolve the business, in order to respond to organisations' emergent needs for more authentic ways of collaborating and of creating the new together.

Caroline holds a BA in business management, France; a BSc (Hons) in psychology, UK; and an MA in creativity and change leadership, USA.

She is trained in the Four Shields model, the Theory U change process, FourSight assessment, Hogan assessment and Lego® Serious Play® techniques.

Caroline has presented papers and run sessions at the Market Research Society (MRS) in the UK, ESOMAR (Berlin Congress, 2007), ARTEM (2015) and at a number of CREA and CPSI conferences (Creative Problem Solving conferences in Italy and the USA). She is a member of the BHBIA, MRS and ICG organisations:

Caroline personally facilitates in both English and French.

To What We've Done


Ways to reconnect with oneself and others

Building teams in constructive ways

Enabling the writing of tomorrow's stories

With individuals

We have helped:

  • Entrepreneurs launching new business ventures who needed a bouncing board to support them through difficult times
  • Mothers who felt stuck while climbing the professional ladder. We helped them face the challenge of balancing the needs of motherhood with developing their professional careers
  • Career switchers looking for support as they swap a life of status quo for one pursuing and fulfilling their dreams and aspirations

With teams

We have helped teams:

  • Overcome the gaps in their internal communications by re-learning to listen to one another and by adopting a dialogue sharing mode – instead of the typical debate/discussion sharing format
  • Open their minds and re-engage with their inner creative selves
  • Honour each others' needs by becoming more aware of the way they each impact on others around them
  • Merge into one, when coming from two different corporate worlds
  • Understand one another better across cultures, nationalities, ages and gender

Within groups & organisations

We have helped them:

  • Get closer to their customers and understand them better
  • Implement information and turn it into strategies and new solutions
  • Solve "fuzzy" problems with programmes including co-creation, ideation and prototyping
  • Develop new products, services and communities
  • Look into the future

Who we've worked for

As a company, the client accounts we have worked on in the last few years have included: Avon, Bamboo Worldwide, Biogen Idec, Braun, Breil, the City of Las Vegas, Clarins, Clearstream, Disneyland Paris, Dr. Oetker, Elli Lilly, Elsevier, Evonik, FINCA, Fromagerie Bel, Gillette, Givaudan, Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK), Guerlain, Heart + Mind Strategies, Hill's, Hive, HP, Hugo Boss, IBM, Kellogg's, Ideas To Go, Kingston University, L'Oreal, Mars, Mondelez, Qualcomm, Rank, Reality Check Inc, SC Johnson, Sony Music, The Walt Disney Company (UK & France), Walt Disney World, and Zambon.

What they say

About how we work:

" Thanks for giving 110% today. You are an inspirational and aspirational moderator. Great learnings, great direction, great work! Looking forward to tomorrow! "
Consumer Insight Manager, Fashion/luxury brand, Europe

About our personal coaching and mentoring:

" There are times in your life when you simply cannot see ahead of you. It is during those fuzzy times that one needs guidance in order to lead one's life more consciously and more coherently. I was lucky enough to meet this guide in Caroline who knew how to help me cross the river from the river bank where I was stuck. She gave me the tools I needed to find the clarity and the resources within myself to move forward. "
Client Account Manager, Communication agency, France

About our workshops:

" Great workshop yesterday, thanks. Even the alarm didn't cause you to go off course! "
Head of Marketing, Travel & Leisure, UK & Ireland
" You were amazing, Caroline. So great to watch a real pro. I got a lot out of it. "
VP Strategy, Brand and design agency, USA

The kind of things we do...


Learning to listen to nature's wisdom

Communicating authentically

Playing seriously with Lego®

Rekindling the creative spirit

Building the picture of "we"

Prototyping in multiple dimensions

Building labyrinths to reflect, connect and create

Helping others make the most of time

Bringing dialogue at the heart of business

To Contact Us

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to the heart – the creative problem solving agency
10 Turners Drive, Totteridge
High Wycombe, Bucks  HP13 7PA,  UK
+44 (0) 1494 510 900