Conference Blog: The Management and Innovative Technologies Conference 2018

Taking place in Izola, Slovenia, I am recording reflections at the 16th conference that brings together academics and industrial practitioners from different disciplines, sectors and countries to explore purpose and innovation in technology.

It a began with a drinks reception at Hotel San Simon with conference founder Miha Junkar…

I just gave a keynote on the Technological singularity. I explored the dangers of an emerging technocratic form.of governance in society.

This is a diverse conference, in terms of people and knowledge. Multiple perspectives mske for rich discussion.

Technology can be a journey. I was inspired by the classic poem, Monday’s child…

Technology innovation usually begins with good intentions, creates over-expectation, leading to disappointment and then can (with reflections and more humble inquiry) arrive somewhere more realistic and beneficial, after shared effort. I find the poem reflects that.

We are now listening to a keynote from Uros Novak on innovation in plastics in the context of the environmental problem. There are alternatives to plastics… His question: What can Nature offer us as an alternative to single use plastics?

Conference chair, Josko Valentincic who heads up the Laboratory for Alternative Technologies at the University of Ljubljana works with laser, water and ice jet cutting research pointed out that freedom of choice should be a core principle as we head towards the Technological Singularity.

Now, what is in the box ? Yes! There are alternatives to coffee! Radical innovation can provide fresh alternatives to environmentally toxic products but substitution innovation is also a key possibility. Carrier bags made of sugar ! But also alternatives to carrying food such as box delivery or permanent storage solutions.

Oh yes, the box…

We head to the first coffee break on Day 1…

Then Henri Orbanic reminds us that “creativity cannot be forced” in his talk on managing the innovation process. So what really drives creativity ? Purpose and also people in a creative mindset, who are restless to change something.

An afternoon of more formal presentations. Much of the innovation presented here is radical, and increasingly focused on the environmental agenda.

Virtual reality plays into machine control and the role of ethics in technological development is also represented but only slightly.

A fascinating presentation about capturing movement of autistic children using VR to enhance education. And several on addictive manufacturing and the green agenda and its use in art.

Slovenian Sunset

A poem about sunsets, emergence and how the end of the day is the perfect time to let go.

Do you understand how powerful

A gentle sunset can be?

Do you ever feel the magical force

Of not-needing-to-try?

This golden, maroon-wash

Is an is-ness that calls forth no strategy.

It settles for its own soft delight;

And, without an act,

Lays down its challenge to you,

To finally find your gentle self;

The self that moves the cliff-face

Without so much as a glancing touch.

It whispers: “Drop your patterning.

Enjoy the emergent happening.”

Supper on a boat out in the Adriatic.

Here are some audio interviews on the boat with conference presenters…

Franz Trieb…

Henning Ziedler…

Nina Pohleven…

Samuel Bigot…

And my reflections at the end of Day 1…

Day 2

Many of the presenters are engaged in different kinds of innovation research. I am in discussions with Professor Emil Cotet from the University of Bucharest in Romania about a potential Erasmus project.

He also showed some short films about the use of a virtual app developed by his research team based on a virtual learning and collaboration environment…

It is a virtual building and even city where video, audio, conferencing and collaboration comes together and can take place as an event – a lecture, an exhibition, virtual laptops, virtual classrooms – much more.

Here on Day 2, Henning Ziedler is talking about biobased and biodegradable materials and their use in additive manufacturing. This innovative approach enables upcycling.

Fibrecasting is also used. It is all about environmental approaches to reuse. One application is 3D printing of architectural models.

The end of the second and final day, we reflect on the conference and the importance of interdisciplinary research and how this conference, over the years has brought people from different fields together, different academic fields and different industrial and business sectors. Our KTP associate from Brighton is highlighted by many as an insightful and interesting workshop earlier in the day.

Tomorrow is the Conference Fringe and I’ll piloting some new ideas and exercises about digital skills and innovative practice. How do we ‘hold our own’ in the digital realm- a place of distraction and smartphone addiction ?

Two more interviews…

Joško Valentinčič from the Laboratory for Alternative Technologies, and co-chair of the conference. talking about the ethos of this unique event …

Henri Orbanić from the same lab, talking about innovation…

Saturday – the Conference Fringe

I am leading an experimental workshop on ideas for my new book, the Seven Day Digital Detox. Some of it is based around the following journal article…

Writing Digitally and Physically Article

Blog ends.

The Art of Management and Organisation Conference 2018: Conference Blog

Paul Levy from CENTRIM writes…

Welcome to my reflections and commentary on the Art of Management and Organisation (AOMO) 2018 Conference Blog – August 30th – September 2nd, Brighton, UK.


Brighton – the city of the raucous Prince Regent; Brighton, London by the sea; Brighton, a creative hub and home of the Brighton Festival and Brighton Fringe. This year’s theme is performance and I’ll be hosting the stream: Organisational Direct Performance.

Have a look at the programme here. (PDF)

AOMO is a once every two years coming together of artists and academics who explore aspects of art in organisational, managerial and social contexts. This year’s theme is ‘performance’. |You can find out more about my own theatre writing experiment here.

It is 11am and the pre-conference masterclasses have begun. People are beginning to arrive…




My first thoughts and questions at the start of AOMO 2018.

Talking before the conference to some artists at AOMO2018

I sat in the lobby, catching up with friends from AOMO 2016 which was in Bled in Slovenia. I recorded a chat with Simon Willlems, a UK artist based in London. He was setting up a rather unique artistic piece with a painting as well…


I talked to Simon about the piece. Simon’s session “How Not to Disappear Completely” is in G64 on Friday 31st August at 1.30pm.

I then chatted to designer Hein Duijnstee about “the promise of the other place” which explores strategy and also transport through visual art.

I also managed a chat with one of the leaders of the pre-conference masterclasses, street photographer Keith Moss. I also bumped into his with his group, out on the streets of Brighton, on New Road!

I’ll add more reflections soon, but these interviews are well worth a listen.

Richard Olivier at 17:40 after University of Brighton Vice Chancellor, Debra Humphris formally opens AOMO2018, invites us to a lab, a shared inquiry into the ‘next step…

Convener, Jenny Knight opens the conference as well.

Could there be a potential for the sacred in theatre again ?

Some phrases that Richard mentions that are worth following up…

“Leadership gift” = a set of archetypal roles, and even physical gestures that help us identify our own favoured archetypes. These are based upon upon order, relationship, creativity, change, action”

“I accept and I radiate” says the sovereign, the bearer of vision and purpose.

Richard presents a wheel of archetypal leadership gifts, with corresponding planets. A gesture and phrases for each one. And each has a shadow side.

More here:

Day 2

The second day begins. I am liking forward to the Direct Performance stream, partly because of the variety in that stream and some possible cross-disciplinary reflections and also because it includes the reading of my play, Bunk. I am wondering who might come.

I have opened the reading to a few colleagues outside of the conference, and the mix of insiders and outsiders will be interesting.

The sun is up over Brighton, it is 745am. It shines almost silver through clouds that are going to.part soon and reveal a sunny day above AOMO2018.

A question is asked by Merlin … (in the stream “In between time and space).

He is interested in the gap between good and remarkable? Is it this … Being honest and authentic, curious and in inquiry, asking questions of the music. Also seeking self-knowledge.

“If performance is the result of a human action, is remarkable performance the result of a human action illustrating a manifestation of humanity?”

We watched a video of a “remarkable” pianist. “Technique doesn’t exist” because every moment the world is changing. How can we be the instruments of that change?

Should performers respond to audiences, following the rule of ‘mob love?’Not according to Canadian pianist Glen Gould. It is an inquiry into the secrets of the music. For him this takes place in the studio, not in front of the audience where there is an unbalanced power relationship.

Are leaders always authentic ?

Are we better at discovering inauthenticity?

Steve Taylor: “Authenticity gets me to good. I am not sure it gets me beyond that.”

Afternoon in the Performance Studio. Assessing the Space of Potentiality. With Lotte Darso.

The space of knowing or not knowing. It is the space of not knowing is where innovation is born. What is the Space of Potentiality (Lotte mentioned Otto Scharmer and Theory U). Where does prescencing crystalise into potentiality and innovation ?

She mentioned Rupert Sheldrake and morphic fields. Controversial science.

The world is one whole, no separation.”

Crystallisation is the sudden idea.

Some more interviews with AOMOers…

Jenny Knight is one of our conveners of AOMO 2o18, along with Chris Matthews. Jenny shares the tale of how AOMO 2018 found itself in Brighton.

Alana Blackburn brings a session that is essentially a performance with recorder, called “The sound of silence.”

Greg Stone shared three archetypal players in organisational life: villains, victims and heroes (and heroines). These are key players in the process of telling a compelling organisation story.

We hit the evening activities with an immersive orchestral experience at the Royal Pavilion with Gloria and John Burgess, exploring vision and leadership via Tchaikovsky!

Then we are off to the Latest Music Bar for a poetry slam and rave disco…

[wpvideo Qy68c0SO]

I have enjoyed days 1 and 2.

So, Day 3…

I had a quick chat with Skye Burn about her session “Revitalising the Love of Life”.


The Organisational Direct Performance stream starts with a play, Through a Stained Glass Darkly by Anne-Marie Greene. It is a piece of verbatim theatre. “It isn’t easy being a clergywoman in the church.”

Based on interviews, the play is contemporary full of shocking stories, exploring the challenges of being a woman priest. And then there is the issue of bring gay as well…

After an intense feedback session, this is a play with a bright future, exploring important questions about marriage and sexual identity in the Church.

Now into Paul Stanley, a photographer with a session on Identity. A big question on Identity starts this session… “What do you do ?” Oerrr… we are doing that again… And again… What are you ? Who are you?

Paul talks about the reciprocal gaze with nature he experienced from the regular taking of a photo at sunset and sunrise. (See the work of Bortoft).

Paul has been on a journey of recovery, accessing limminality, journeying by motorbike, taking photographs, and facing past trauma, gaining insight and realisation. The participants in the session hear about the journey of a barer simplicity, without a clear destination, encountering people in temporary yet essential ways. Gaining self-insight. Healing? Understanding and resolving ? Does the journey on the road open up space within ? Is the bike trip a helpful glow state ? Something more aesetic and spiritual ?

Oh and look this up. Our “imago” is key to our healthily forming identity.

Steven Taylor, writer and Business School Dean, presents a rehearsed reading premiere of his play, Selling Beauty.

It explores beauty in a personal, social and organisational context. Can beauty be turned into a consultancy product?

The final session of the day in the Direct Performance stream is Alana Blackburn playing recorder and leading us through both a recital and talk exploring ‘sounds of silence’.

[wpvideo TZdsi4Lh]

Silence plays a huge role in music and musical notation. Do we truly understand the power and importance of silence, the pause and the spaces in between ?

This was a fascinating, inspiring and helpful day. Theare makers birning their work unfinished, and the audience being a supportive peer group. It was about the work, improving the work, realising the work. We also explored the silence, the empty space, the liminal space and the potential of the pause. We heard about the paring down on things their reveraling essence, and even the musical rules of space and silence that can inform our life elsewhere.

Then onwards to a talk/performance inpired by Paraguay by Richard Durrant and dinner at the Grand Hotel. (He did an interview on the BBC straight after).

Final day…

On the final day I had the second reading of my play, Bunk, this time in the Sallis-Benney Theatre. It was a sleepier read, people were tired. Or were the weaknesses in my script finally showing? Feedback was still positive, and I was told the play has legs! So, perhaps onwards to full production? I will make the decision soon. I met a younger version of myself in this process (the play was originally written in 1999). It has been a powerful processes of both look back and look ahead. I put what went before, before me!

Before we ended with fish and chips, I managed to finish the day with three very different interviews.

Leny Woolsey talked about her session and different aspects of the “Fool”. Her session was called “Speaking Truth to Power: The Organizational Artist as Lyrical Fool”.

And Ellen Speert shared thoughts and intentions about A sculptural experience: ‘Cultural Identity and a Sense of Space’.

(Cecilie Meltzer, Assistant Professor in Art-based Learning, Oslo Metropolitan University (former University College of Oslo and Akershus), Norway and Ellen Speert, ATR-BC, REAT, Director of the California Center for Creative Renewal)

Paul Z Jackson shared his session and also his approach to impprovisation and storytelling. Paul’s session was called “Organizations as Storytellers”.

His own development has involved exploring the evolution of applied improv from mirroring comedy improv, to improv as a set of tools for training and development to a ‘third wave’ where improvisation becomes a way of being.

Some final reflections

This was a very social AOMO conference for me, loaded with Brighton spirit, which meant some fine social activities blended wasily with the arts. We had orchestras in the Royal Pavilion, cabaret and dance at the Grand Hotel, a guitar keynote, and fish and chips discussing performance. Yes, “performance”, the theme of this conference.

I still felt a strong internal definition of leadership from many offering sessions at the conference, as well as participants, as being s top down thing, a unique individual leader, a hero, a conductor, someone with overview, someone either feared and mistrusted, or trusted and seen as inspiring. For some, this type of leadership is a given, the director of the play who leads the cast on. Vision comes from the top, and we, the folloers commit to it, more or less engaged, more or less collaborators.

Out of that (and this may be uncomfortable for some to read), I found myself in sessions where session leaders were facipulators, “getting us” to do things. This was almost totally benevolent, but in some cases it felt pompous, arrogant and even suspect. I am very much involved in the notion of “invitation” in my own exploration of leadership and performance. Leadership is not facipulative, it is trully horizonal, collaborative, co-creative, and leadership is mostly invited, based on trust, and largely temporary. Excellent performance is not an input-output-transformation system, but instead an emergent property of self-organisation. (Read more on facipulation here and here).

That was less prevalent at AOMO 2018, but it was there. The invitation to co-create, to co-lead and to allow leadership to emerge as a temporary process, not a top-down person. I want to explore that more and look forward to even more of it in Liverpooll 2020. I had a wonderful time at AOMO 2018 in my home city of Brighton. It was the dilemmas and paradoxes thatr made it so vital and so well suited to being in Brighton.

Useful link: (The Programme for AOMO 2018)

Cafes as Places of Innovation, Creativty and Entrepreneurship

CENTRIM’s Paul Levy recently gave a talk at the Bevvy Community Pub in Brighton. as part of the Brains at the Bevvy series of talks organised by yhr University of Brighton.

Entitlted “The Power of Cafes as Places of Creativity”, the talk discussed CENTRIM research into informal meeting spaces as places to spark innovstion. This is based on a project called The Dial Project

Action Learning is a process developed by Reg Revans to support groups engaging in learning from taking action.  It is used on many different sectors and industries all over the world as a basis for teamwork. The process is one, which follows what is sometimes known as “the learning cycle”, where people reflect on their experience, leading to the development on new ideas and concepts, which are then tested out in practice.  It is used by successful organisations all over the world. You have a time slot in a group meeting and get to explore a chosen question, issue, problem or ongoing challenge. You can use your time slot to explore, and discuss and, before the end of your time slot you agree some action(s) you will take before the next action learning group meeting. At the next meeting you reflect on the learning and progress on your actions since the last meeting. The learning cycle is really a process of generating new ideas, experimenting, taking action and then reflecting on that action.

Cafe’s lend themselves to this process. They are informal buzzy and Paul’s research points to them as places that make idea sharing, challenge and motivation easier. All of this supports innovation and new ideas that can become value-creating business ideas.




Reflections on changing your Identity

So, we are no longer the Centre for Research in Innovation Management (CENTRIM). We are now The Centre for Change, Enterprise and Innovation Management. So, we were CENTRIM> And now we are… er, CENTRIM.

Same acronym, new name, and also new possibilities. In terms of membership we are much bigger. We now have a very clear brief to maintain our status as a CORE (A Centre of Research Excellence.

I’ll be posting some detailed reflections on that soon. Some early thoughts are as follows:

I’ve noticed my attachment to the old name. We were CENTRIM for over 20 years. And yet I am also very excited about the new name. Innovation is about novel ideas; it is about the new. Yet it is also about bring the best of the old and incorporating it into the new. Change is uncertain. Change can be frightening. It can take you out of your comfort zone. Yet is also creates the opportunity to generate new ideas, new practice, and new value. So I am looking forward to being the new version of CENTRIM.

There will be dialogue about what we are, and what we want to be. Critical to this is being in dialogue with the world outside of use, being responsive. One of our founder leaders, Professor John Bessant, described a key element of successful innovation being the ability to sense opprotunity and need outside and to adapt and re-organise internally in order to innovate effectively. That can be a challenge when you get set in your ways. The new CENTRIM has a lot of #’new blood’, – new people coming in with their own ideas, their own research experience and knowledge. The dialogue will be create and; deliberately, not always easy. I look forward to that. CENTRIM will need to walk its own talk about innovation.

Paul Levy, Senior Lecturer