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.

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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