One of Scotland’s favourite holiday islands hosts an event that promotes slowing down as a new way to accelerate change (photo by Paul Simpson)

THE GLENBURN Hotel, overlooking Rothesay Bay, is the setting for Scotland’s first-ever “Business Decelerator” training programme. 

Professionals from leading global corporations, such as Standard Chartered, Deloitte and Reckitt Benckiser, and non-profits, such as The Clinton Health Access Initiative, will travel from London, Switzerland and even as far away as Hong Kong to attend this inaugural programme. Joining them is an eclectic mix of skilled practitioners from the diverse worlds of art, music, improv comedy and the military.

The event offers a unique environment to inspire creativity and breakthrough innovation while offering an opportunity to decelerate from busy corporate roles to undertake deep personal reflection and development.

Traditionally a holiday island, Bute has long been associated with hosting visitors from far and wide to enjoy rest and relaxation by the sea.  Now, Bute is attracting this new demographic with a different approach but with the same beneficial outcomes.

The concept behind the event is the brainchild of author and consultant Gib Bulloch.  He was born and brought up on the Isle of Bute, but left the island to pursue a career in the corporate world, most recently setting up and running Accenture’s not-for-profit organisation, Accenture Development Partnerships, globally. 

Organiser of the event Gib Bulloch (photo by Paul Simpson)

Bulloch is a passionate advocate for the role that business can play in changing the world but believes that to be effective and sustainable the corporate world requires fundamental change in the mindsets of the people working within it.  

“This business decelerator is all about engaging with early-stage business professionals and disconnecting them from the constant distractions of technology, deadlines, and work/life demands. It aims to connect participants with the creative and transformative power of art, music, nature and community, ultimately encouraging a deeper sense of purpose and opening the door to new thinking,” says Bulloch.

So where is the benefit for large corporations in giving their people time off to slow down?  How does this approach that reconcile with an existing focus on the business bottom line?

“Slowing down may, in fact, be the best way of accelerating the type of change business so badly needs”, says Bulloch. “Besides the obvious benefits of building resilience, improved well-being and employee engagement, the Craigberoch Business Decelerator acts as a catalyst for creating innovative products, services and business models. The event aims to awaken a generation of dormant Elon Musk-type intrapreneurs and innovators inside the corporate world. We want to inspire and enliven human talents, unlocking commercial value for companies so that they can reinvent themselves to have a more positive social and environmental impact on the planet.” 

The course trainers are handpicked to deliver these new ways of thinking. They include Alexander Inchbald, an Extreme Artist and Creativity Mentor; David Pearl, trained in opera by Placido Domingo and scriptwriting by Stanley Kubrick who now works as leadership coach in business; Calum Morrison, a former soldier who now runs the Extraordinary Adventure Club, Delphine Dèpy Carron, a qualified neuroscientist who coaches on business innovation, John Zimmer and Viki Lazar from the Geneva-based improv group, the Renegade Saints and lastly Peter Koenig and Barba Kuntz from Zurich who are experts on personal development.  

The business world, with its relentless focus on growth, profit, planning and numbers has been very good at developing the intellectual, analytic abilities that take place in the head, but at the expense of the more creative, collaborative and intuitive capabilities that arise in the heart,” states Inchbald. “If corporations are to remain relevant and play a role in tackling the challenges of the 21st Century, then they’ll need to help employees rebalance by unleashing creativity and collaboration and rebalance their culture by putting purpose at the heart of it.” 

Besides the benefits for participating organisations, Bulloch also expects the Craigberoch Business Decelerator to have a positive impact on his homeland.  Craigberoch is the name of a derelict farm on the island which Bulloch plans to renovate with a combination of grant funding and other investments, to host future events. Also, as part of his commitment to engage the local community, five free places were offered to Bute residents which were quickly taken up.

‘The vision for Craigdarroch farm is truly inspirational. This creation couldn’t have come at a better time.  The ethos resonates with everything I’m aiming for in life.” says Victoria O’Reilly, who signed up for one of the community slots. “I’m really looking forward to learning, sharing and creating ideas and innovations with other like-minded people.”

The first Craigberoch Business Decelerator runs from 18th to 22nd November with further events planned in 2020.