Friday, September 09, 2005

There's a welcome... initiative... in the hillsides

I'm looking out of my window towards the River Wye.

Honestly, there could be fewer places than Ross nicer to live and work. But it's not the best of places to do business, because as part of the service industry, and in particular one heavily involved with fmcg marketing and high level government (aspiring, that is) access, we're not exactly at the heart of the action.

And for all the wonderful opportunities offered by the net, there really is no substitute for good 'ole fashioned networking. Face to face, 'what do you do' events that put you in direct touch with a person with whom some mutually beneficial synergies may be explored.

Why I am writing this, now, is that yesterday at crack of dawn I set off to Cardiff University, where I had been invited to participate in an all-day event called 'Adding Value to your Work Through Creativity and Innovation.'. With a title like that you can see why I was tempted.

I walked into a room with a large number of folks, perhaps 90 in all. They were naturally weighted to learning institutions but with a fair number of Council representatives, the odd business (like me, and they don't come much odder than that!), plus the usual 'gawd knows what they do' consultants.

The day was pretty much split into two lectures, one given by a very passionate sociology lecturer, and the other by his direct opposite, a very quietly spoken, wry but equally committed Professor of Engineering.

In between these talks, we were set tasks, both as individuals and as small groups, basically to 'set our minds free'.
And, fair enough, they had an agenda too. Money. To develop what they had started. Did you know that when it comes to global inventions, one fifth of all of them, and 70% of all the significant ones came from the UK? That was courtesy of the Japanese government, back in 2001. Thing is, the guys overseas are not too concerned about us any more. Apparently we are squandering our talent for invention. That is a BIG PROBLEM. And these guys, are trying to do something about it.

Well, I'm up for it. And without being too self-centred (we'll do what we can, when we can, to help in return, but it won't be with money) I think could be not only a beneficiary of their desire to DO something, but a poster child to inspire all those in the equation... public, government, authorities, business and funders.

Because is about taking a new approach to the ‘waste’ problem, by giving consumers, manufacturers and retailers end benefits. Consumers save money and in doing so, put less into landfill. And manufacturers/retailers make money by giving their product/packaging and extra selling point – a second use for things that they produce (packaging/products) and that people might otherwise put in the bin.

Trouble is, the innovators and creators are not the gatekeepers of progress any more. It's the po-faced, grey folks with Specsavers twofers and a meta-matrix that needs creating and box that needs ticking. So we have a certain... challenge... ahead of us.

And they were talking ‘We South Welsh’, which may exclude me/us (a few miles the wrong side of the border), and raises another issue as I see it of diluted efforts through too much being frittered away in separate empires. But in this case I think it’s a matter of ‘you need to start somewhere’, so more power to their elbow.

Was it worth it? Yes. I had fun, learned a bit... and, most important of all.. made a few valuable new contacts which may, if they choose to develop the relationship, work to’s and their advantage equally.

Businesses like mine (creative, innovative, call it what you will – basically people who look at the world in a different way) need to hook up with people like these guys who recognize the value of creative solutions, and are willing to do something about it.

I’m looking forward to the ride.