What I do and how I do it…
“I work with you to illustrate your organisation’s vision and can also help you put in place the right people and organisational development activities to enable you to achieve it.”
John Ashton | Founder of Crackerjack Visual Thinking
John combines 10+ years experience of running Crackerjack Visual Thinking (which has enabled him to observe the inside workings of virtually all types of organisations) with his previous experience in learning and organisational development roles to offer a unique, supportive and pragmatic approach to developing your organisation’s performance.
Click on the images and videos below to find out more about my work…
A joined-up approach is vital to achieving your Vision!
Having a Vision and then successfully achieving it requires a coordinated approach focusing on three key activities: Communicating, Enabling and Embedding. In this blog episode, I share my thoughts on the importance ensuring you have a joined-up approach to these key activities (and what can happen if you don’t!):
Achieving your Vision Step #1: Develop your Vision
In this blog episode, I talk about how visualising your organisations Vision can improve communication, understanding and business performance.
Achieving your Vision Step #2: Develop your People
In this blog episode, I talk about how aligning the skills, knowledge and behaviours of your people to your Vision is vital in enabling your Vision to be achieved.
Achieving your Vision Step #3: Develop your Organisation
In this blog episode, I talk about the importance of alining your systems, processes and organisational behaviours with your Vision to deliver a great customer experience and build trust in your organisation.
Who I’ve worked for…
This is a selection of clients Crackerjack Visual Thinking is honoured to have worked with. Click here for the full list.
Get in touch…
Phone: +44 (0)115 6483381
Latest Blog posts
Latest client feedback re: ‘Our Strategy 2021-2026’ rich picture created for Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
“Good Morning John, I hope you are well, apologies for the delay in sending this over, having now distributed the image you created for us to represent our NMAHP journey to excellence using our new 2021 – 2026 strategy I am delighted to say the feedback I have received from colleagues has been very positiveContinue reading “Latest client feedback re: ‘Our Strategy 2021-2026’ rich picture created for Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust”
It can be easy to lose track of the big picture and get lost in the complexity of running your business. To help with this, here’s a simple template I’ve developed to help you check the health of your business. The health check uses the SIMPLE mnemonic to focus on 6 key areas of running a business:Continue reading “Can your business tick all the boxes in this SIMPLE business health check?”
As the countries of the UK emerge from the latest lockdown and progress through their COVID roadmaps, many businesses are opening up for the first time in months and/or having to adapt to how their customers want to do business now that they are used to working in a virtual, working from home, socially distanced,Continue reading “As the UK ‘unlocks’, it’s more important than ever to communicate a clear vision for your business”
A person’s life is a rich tapestry of events, influences, emotions and experiences that create a unique story. No one person’s story is the same as another. Capturing this story visually creates a unique artistic record of person’s life journey and can be an ideal gift to: Celebrate a life event… Reward achievements… Help commemorateContinue reading “Your Life Story Pictures™ – A creative new way to tell your own or someone else’s life story!”
What clients say about working with Crackerjack Visual Thinking
Mark Britton | Business Manager | CNO
Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
“Good Morning John,
I hope you are well, apologies for the delay in sending this over, having now distributed the image you created for us to represent our NMAHP journey to excellence using our new 2021 – 2026 strategy I am delighted to say the feedback I have received from colleagues has been very positive indeed.
As per the original brief to create a pictorial reference / image for the strategy you have truly delivered!
Colleagues have commented that this piece of work has helped them to simply explain and discuss our combined aims and objectives to continue to support our People our Patients and our Populations.
On a personal note I have enjoyed working with you on this process as you know it has been a key objective to deliver this for Sam our Chief Nurse and the Trust and I believe we have succeeded!.
Thanks again John / Crackerjack I am sure we will work together again soon.
Becky Speight | CEO | Woodland Trust
“The 10 Year Vision rich picture will be an accessible reminder of what we are all about and what we are aiming to achieve. The visual works really well and encapsulates our strategy at a high level, giving everyone the wider context”
Anne Lightowler | Head of HR | Woodland Trust
“The way John took the information relating to our 10 year vision and represented it in a really clear way that made perfect sense was really helpful.”
Louise Bull | Communications Director
“I worked alongside John when we were both supporting the Planning Organisation within Rolls Royce with their transformation programme.
John has a fantastic ability to help teams articulate a vision and really draw out of the organisation what it is they are trying to achieve through listening to the conversations, and honing in on what really matters.
John has the unique ability to come up with something that the organisation can get behind and translate this into easy to digest, clear and simple visuals.
These are more than just a set of pictures though, they are a great tool to help build the narrative around the need for change, support the communications messaging and storytelling and give colleagues and businesses something that they can easily understand.
I will definitely use John in future communications campaigns.”
Steph Fastré | Learning and Development | Google UK
“John did a fantastic job of capturing our day-long event’s key points and learnings – the final graphic has been shared far and wide within our organisation, with employees praising this creative takeaway, which clearly showcases the outcome of the day.”
Mark Lindsay | Assistant Director of Strategy | Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust
“John from Crackerjack Visual Thinking was commissioned to create a rich picture depicting our strategy. In doing so he engaged with the team, not only offering suggestions, but importantly he listened to what we felt was important. He then seamlessly weaved this into the working document in a very timely manner.
He was very quick to respond and worked flexibly in terms of time and method of communication. We found that most of the work could be carried out over the telephone or email, but when we requested that he visit us, John didn’t hesitate to make the long journey.
He was happy to amend the work until we were completely satisfied with the result – which we were. If you are looking to depict your message through a rich picture, then John comes highly recommended!”
Wenda-Kate Randal | People and Development Lead | The Woodland Trust
“Excellent – a pleasure to work with you again…… you make it very easy!”
Sarah Fry | Business Development and Communications Manager | Institute of Quarrying (IQ)
“We wanted to show how quarrying impacts the environment in its day to day operations throughout the total lifecycle of the site as well as show the full range of career opportunities the industry offers.
The rich pictures had to be graphics that could take highly complex geological, engineering and business processes and present them in a way that anyone could understand and hopefully be inspired by. That was our brief to John Ashton at CrackerJack.
John then worked closely with us and our members to map the key process and information areas relevant to the messages we wanted to convey. Part of the process involved spending time onsite at a quarry so John really took the task on to understand our world.
John’s attention to detail shows in the resulting lifecycle and process graphics that have been extremely well received and we feel that together we have created a couple of assets that will work hard for us for a long long time.”
Sian Lloyd | EVHR
“John’s graphic recording coaching is not only extremely valuable but also hugely enjoyable. My individual Scribble Lab session had been carefully planned to build on my abilities and with a clear direction of the goals I had said I wanted to achieve. Having this one to one attention from someone so experienced enabled me to move through my learning quickly and find answers to my many questions. A very inspiring day!”
Louise Dolphin | Young Adult Team | CLIC Sargent for Children with Cancer
I have attached the summary of the feedback from our 23rd September Teenage and Young Adult Conference and as you can see you scored really highly!
Crackerjack Visual Thinking = 148/150 (note: some people had wanted to award more than the 5 marks available for your work!!!).
I think what you do definitely enhanced our day and it is clear that other participants agreed.
Am sure we will work with you again.
Liam Humphreys | Exercise Science Researcher | Sheffield Hallam University
“John attended the launch event of Active Everyday; a physical activity referral programme for people affected by cancer in Sheffield. The project is funded by Macmillan Cancer Support and Sport England.
The event included a diverse blend of delegates, including clinicians, nurses, researchers, commissioners, and people affected by cancer. The programme included many different speakers all promoting the benefits of physical activity for people with cancer. I asked John to attend the event because I wanted a creative way of providing delegates with an overview of the day.
The finished piece was extremely well received by the attendees and John was able to explain his artistic vision from what he had heard throughout the event. I now have a great piece of work that I can share with everyone from the event and for events in the future.
John was very easy to work with and accommodating to my requests. I would certainly use him again for future events and would highly recommend him to others.
If you would like a more creative and interactive experience for your events or meetings; John is your man.”
Ashiq Khan | Business Analyst | Elexon
“John did a fantastic piece of graphic facilitation for one of our recent company events – by producing a wall map that captured senior management employee engagement issues and to motivate our employees. We’ve continued to follow through on a lot of the ideas that were creatively captured by John’s wall map and we now have teams of staff working on making our company a great place to work. Thank you for your valuable contribution. We’re still proudly displaying your wall map in our staff area as a constant reminder of the first steps to generating a positive change to our working environment. It’s still making a difference.”
David Hubbard | Managing Director | ValueLicensing
“ValueLicensing wanted to find an effective way to communicate our vision and strategy to everyone within our business, in manner that would be both memorable and unambiguous. We reached out to John in May 2019 to see if he could help us visualise both this and key business messages to existing and new employees.
John’s approach was to work closely with the directors and senior management team to understand who we are, what we do and why we do it. John facilitated a number of workshops during which he spent time listening and contributing to the sessions to allow him draft the first visualisation of the company strategy.
The artwork produced was excellent and John was more than happy to make tweaks until we were happy with the finished product. The visualisation was communicated to the business and was received with positive feedback from across the team and we have referred his work to other organisations.
John’s approach, professionalism, and quality of work are excellent and I personally recommend John and ‘Crackerjack Visual Thinking’ to anyone looking for ways to communicate more effectively across the business. Thank you John.”
Toni Tyler | Project Manager
I have worked with John for 18 months and found him to be approachable, dependable and very talented.
If your business requires assistance with embedding a L&D engagement process from start to finish, then John is highly recommended.
He will assist your company to achieve your vision, goal and behaviours with ease, whether in a virtual story or physical environment.
John is very articulate, precise and always on hand to assist. His ideas are also second to none.
Geraldine Walsh | President | Institute for Asphalt Technology
“John of Crackerjack Visual Thinking was employed by the Institute of Asphalt Technology to create both a rich picture of our new vision and a graphic recording of our 50th anniversary conference. It is evident from the quality of his work that he has a true talent not only in terms of creating the actual artwork itself but also in terms of listening, understanding and interpreting our requirements. His work is outstanding on many levels. Never before have I received such positive commentary on any project. Thank you John – it was a pleasure to work with you.”
Laura Haviland | HR Director | Westmill Foods
“We asked John to come and support our company conference, both to capture the content and spirit of the day and also to interact with our colleagues and gather their responses and reactions.
It was wonderful to see the graphic unfold as we followed the journey of the day and as the day came to a close the graphic was looking amazing.
We will print and frame copies of the final graphic at our sites as a reminder of the key messages and our day together.
John was a pleasure to work with, flexible about how the graphic recording fitted into our day and has produced a fabulous record of our conference.”
Chris Henderson | Founder of One Third More
“I commissioned John Ashton of Crackerjack Visual Thinking to create a rich picture and hand-drawn animation of the key themes I explore in my book ‘Jump!: Deliver astonishing results by unleashing your leadership team’. John worked with me to understand the key messages I wanted to communicate and developed a metaphor and storyboard that visualised the story I wanted to tell. The rich picture and animation are excellent and give me two valuable resources that I can share with clients, use in presentations and display on my website. I found working with John to be both thought provoking and supportive and look forward to working with him again on future projects.”
Jo Atkins | Senior Programme Manager & Tessa Slater | Programme Facilitator | Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
“We can highly recommend working with Crackerjack Visual Thinking. We worked with John to create the Improvement Guide for Oxford Health Foundation Trust; a visual and interactive guide to support staff to implement improvements in their place of work. John was able to interpret our brief, added his ideas and delivered on a tight deadline. John’s approach is friendly, flexible and professional – we will definitely work with him again.”
Bob Howe | Factory Manager | British Sugar
“We all know that one of the key pillars for effective change management is to have good communication. We have tried many different ways of getting key messages to our workforce and are always looking for new and innovative ways of engaging with them.
The important thing for us was not only to achieve effective communication but also to gain buy in of the direction in which the business was heading, the future challenges we faced and their part in this. We wanted to make it real and for them to feel part of the journey.
Working with John Ashton at Crackerjack Visual Thinking, we were able to put the corporate message across along with employees views and opinions in a unique imaginative style. We have found that this really makes people want to understand what has already been achieved and ultimately where we would like to go.
Within a very short period of time we had a communication tool that makes people want to engage and be part of it. A very effective approach and one we will again consider in the future.”
Sarah Fry | Business Development and Communications Manager | Institute of Quarrying (IQ)
“In 2015 when we were planning our conference, we wanted to do something different. Something that delegates would remember and something that we could use after the delegates had all gone. We found Crackerjack and loved Johns engaging style of capturing concepts and ideas in a visually engaging way and knew this would give us what we were looking for.
During the conference John was an integral part of the event. Live drawing became a feature of the conference and the resulting 3m x 1m landscape was a colourful representation of the key points made that industry should focus on.
Afterwards with the landscape duly scanned into a digital image, we could easily share the conference outputs with delegates and our wider audiences. It was immediately used on social and during 2016 was integrated into other marketing and communication activities. Because the design was adaptable, we could use the graphic in full or in sections to focus on key points we wanted to talk about.
Fast forward to the end of 2017. We were having a tidy up in the office and found the original landscape drawing John created at our 2015 conference. The digital version had worked hard for us but there was still something exciting about seeing the original artwork again. Too good to simply discard and the concepts and issues captured are still relevant to the industry so we decided to get it framed to hang in our meeting room.
Due to its size we had to cut it into 3 different frames. It certainly makes an impact! The graphic is still a great talking point and a valuable device that helps us to engage our members and other visitors about what IQ is all about and how we support the quarrying industry.”
Steve Walton | Associate Director | Strategic Consultancy | AECOM Transportation EMIA
“Back in September 2018 AECOM’s Strategic Consultancy needed a way to visualise what we do. We wanted to find some way of explaining/demonstrating what we do, and more importantly – why we do it, to any new members of our team, whether that be Graduates, or Apprentices or even more experienced personnel coming to work for us for the first time. Business process, whilst key to growth and success, is not always the most exciting of topics to learn or be told, even when you are actively supporting progress. However we felt that something a little more dynamic was required to maximise inclusion and understanding in what we do. So we worked with John and came up with a way of selling the story of what we do and why, but in a more engaging and interesting way.
The idea behind our graphic was simple enough. It was to tell a story. The story was developed so that it aligned with the corporate objectives, and the tools we have available to us. The story forms a roadmap, explaining who we are as a team, what we are trying to achieve, our vison, our values and our clients – both current and future. The graphic provides us with the ability to demonstrate what we do, why we do it, who we do it for and the value it provides to AECOM. It helps people who maybe have not been in the business long, or even visitors to our team visualise the journey we take every day.
John’s creativity to be able to visualise process and objective was critical here. John has an ability to see things which we sometimes cant, but which are always there. His approach was not one of direction, but simply to bring our story to life through his artwork. John’s work has been recognised by the wider business, and I believe this could be the start of a positive collaboration between AECOM and Crackerjack Visual Thinking.”
Steve Bowers | Head of Supplier Qualifty – Asia Pacific Region | Rolls-Royce
Thank you very much for your creatively and support over the last few weeks in the creation of the ‘Quality Rich Picture’. We have also completed a script to support the rich picture as discussed and are now ready to roll out globally over the next few weeks.
Should we require more visual support in the future, we will not hesitate to get back in touch with you
Sarah Fry | Business Development and Communications Manager | Institute of Quarrying (IQ)
“We’ve had such a lot of positive feedback about your involvement in the conference and the work you were doing. The graphic looked great and was a real talking point, we can’t wait to start sharing it far and wide – we are even considering basing future events around it!”
Helen Farrington | Associate Director of OD and Training | Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust
“John has the amazing ability to make sense of complex information and translate a concept into something that is creative, meaningful and has impact! Creating our High Performing Hospital ‘rich picture’ required incorporating a diverse range of views and opinions – never easy- but John was patient and flexible and as a result we have something that has wide appeal and application.”
Belinda Boulton | Director of Transformation | Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
“We knew what service improvement information we wanted to convey. However, we weren’t sure about how to present that information in such a way as to engage our colleagues and enthuse them in relation to our service improvement goals. John Ashton from Crackerjack Visual Thinking listened to our ideas and explored with us the nature of our audience and what would give them an affinity with the ‘Toolkit’. John helped us to bring our ideas to life in the form of an interactive ‘Oxford Quality Improvement Toolkit’, an on-line guide which brings service improvement tools to life. The work was delivered to time frames and exceeded our expectations. We are looking forward to working with John in the future on other projects.”
Matt Cadby | Project Manager | Transformation Team | Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
I got the graphic recording. It looks fantastic, thank you so much. We are going to get a nice big printout of this and put it up on the main corridor. I am still amazed by the level of clarity you pick up in what you have heard – it is amazing!”
Sophie Jones | Communications and Engagement Associate | Commissioners Working Together | NHS
“We’re really grateful to John for his work at our event. He was able to present a lot of complex information in a really clear and creative way. There are many partners involved in our work and it will act as a fantastic visual reminder of our journey and goals for everyone involved.”
Dan Curtis | Lead L&D Consultant (Career Paths) | Three (Hutchinson 3G)
Apologies I didn’t get to say thank you in person! However, I got home yesterday evening at around 11pm and the first thing I did, much to my wife’s annoyance admittedly!, was to open the graphic and look at it properly.
And I have to say it was pretty emotional. Seeing the hard work that went into bringing the event to life, being told in the way you captured it, was a real joy. And the fact that my wife could then tell me how people attending the day had felt just by viewing it, showed what an exceptional piece of work it is.
Thank you very much and it was a pleasure to work with you, a thoroughly professional experience from the moment we first spoke.
I look forward to working with you again.”
Charli Buxton | Executive Assistant to the Deputy Vice Chancellor | Sheffield Hallam University
“John attended our All Staff conference which focused on our new University strategy. It was important to us that we had visual record of the day as it panned out and of the initial feedback which the strategy received.
John attended workshops and plenary sessions, he visited stands and stalls in our Market Place, constantly picking up themes and information to include in the final visual. John worked on the visual throughout the day in the main entrance to the University where people passing by were able to see his work in progress.
By the end of the day we had a fantastic visual record of the day, brilliantly incorporating the feel of the conference, the architecture of the university and, most importantly, the engagement with and initial feedback from staff to the strategy.
We now have the original visual and an electronic version which we will display around the University for those people who were unable to attend on the day.”
Crackerjack Visual Thinking is a trading name of Crackerjack People Development Ltd which was formed in 2009 and its company number is 06957035. It is a UK registered Limited Company.