This is my personal blog where I write about the things I'm doing, usually things relating to my home city of Sheffield. You can find out more about me here.

Professionally, I am a digital strategist and innovation specialist, and a director of cross-media pollinators Crossover Labs.

I also write about digital technology and innovation in general at "Suspended Judgement". And I keep a blog with my wife about play and digital parenting called "Appy Families".

XLR8 Network Meeting - September: What’s the story…?

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Last Monday evening, the 25th September, we held our most recent XLR8 Innovation network meeting, again in one of the modern teaching rooms at Hallam University’s Cantor Building. We had a good turnout and welcomed some new faces as well - thank you everyone for coming!

The masterclass topic of the evening was “Storytelling and Innovation”, and we started by

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Innovation Network Sheffield’s May Workshop - DotForge Edition!

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Last Monday, the 20th May, we gathered in a nice airy central lecture room in the Cantor Building at Sheffield Hallam University. We were very fortunate to be joined by a host of young digital entrepreneurs from the DotForge Accelerator start-up incubation programme which is running in Sheffield for a total of 13 weeks ending in mid-July.

The innovation network event wasn’t formally part of their mentorship and training but programme directors Jag Goraya and Emma Cheshire felt that the session could compliment their experience and

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Innovation Network Sheffield’s March Meet-up…

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On an extremely cold Monday a couple of weeks ago (the 11th March), members of IN_Sheffield gathered in the back room of the Showroom Cinema for our second meet-up, to share our knowledge, practice problem-solving techniques and help each other address real business problems.

We started the evening off with a short masterclass talk by me on the subject of innovation ‘culture’, and specifically how teams might consciously and intentionally devise cultural practices to improve how they work and change their organisations from the bottom up, rather than

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New Thinking for a New Economy

image A few months ago I was kindly invited to give a talk at one of the regular Lunch Plus events organised by the Sheffield Community Network.
I was asked to present what I thought were the most important ways in which digital technology was impacting local economies and which I felt more people should be aware of. I decided to concentrate on platforms of exchange (or ‘two-way markets’ as the economists call them) and their double-edged influence on local communities and economies. On the one hand, in certain contexts, they can rapidly extract value from communities, while in others they can empower people, allow them to expand their reach and greatly improve resource-sharing - at least for those who are themselves networked.

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Sheffield’s digital strategy part 2: Stewardship of the conversation.

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In a blog post last week I broached the subject of Sheffield’s digital strategy in order to get a debate going and perhaps open people’s minds to what might be possible and what impact a well implemented strategy might have on a city’s citizens and businesses. As I mentioned in the first post, I’m talking about Sheffield because it’s where I live, but there’s nothing here that doesn’t also apply elsewhere as well. I also described two foundational principles of a strategy I worked on a few years ago, namely ‘stewardship’ and ‘federated services’. Read the previous post to see where I’m coming from.

I should point out also that what I’m talking about here is not identical to the strategy that was presented to Sheffield City Council back in 2010. Some of the principles are the same, but the world

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Some thoughts on Sheffield’s digital strategy…

There is no one person or team in the city that is centrally and uniquely responsible for the digital ‘health’ of Sheffield. Furthermore, ‘digital strategy’, when it is consciously wielded, is more often than not confined to IT infrastructure and websites, and doesn’t extend to wider domains. I have long thought that these things are holding the city back. Not that I necessarily think that there should be just one entity with ultimate responsibility for the city’s digital strategy, but that there should at least be full and open coordination of strategy amongst those entities that do exist, and that resources should be made available to fill the governance gap where necessary. And I think there should be a stronger sense that such a strategy should work to

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This is what happened at Innovation Network Sheffield’s first event..

Last Monday evening was the first proper meeting of IN_Sheffield - it’s an event for people who have attended on of the workshops that we’ve been running for the last 18 months or so. You can find more background info on the event in this previous post.

Before I talk though in detail what happened at the event, I’d like to say at the outset what a great evening it was - despite it being a new format and quite experimental, I thought it worked really well and time flew by. It was helped greatly, I think, by the fact that Ed Draper from JRI Orthopedics brought a really significant problem to the table, which the group clearly enjoyed engaging with. I got the sense that we were all learning some things while providing Ed with a lot of useful ideas, which would be difficult to get so quickly otherwise. And the whole process felt like fun, which is how it should be :)

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UTC Employer Engagement Offers - Part 2: Gamified!

Last week I published a breakdown of the various ways employers are being asked to support Sheffield’s new University Technical College. Following on from that, I’d like to go through the credit system that is being proposed. Please bear in mind that it is not me who is proposing this system - this is merely the draft that has been put together by a working group and shared with the directors. This means a) it is very much still open for discussion and b) it is not my responsibility to produce the offer, but I do want to raise awareness in the best way I can which is by writing about it and sharing the information. I especially want to seek input from creative and digital employers who’s views need to be represented.

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Sheffield UTC - the lowdown on employer engagement offers

Dear creative and digital employer types,

the Sheffield University Technical College project is now at the point where it is looking at sensible ways in which employers can engage with and support the UTC. At the last board meeting (which was about a month ago - I’ve not been very quick with this..) we were given draft copies of the latest engagement offer ‘design’. As I am one of the only board members representing the Creative and Digital Industries, I thought it would be a good idea to share the design at an early stage and see what members of the CDI sector think about the things on offer.

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Sheffield Innovators Network

For the last 18 months or so, I’ve been involved in organising a series of workshops designed to get businesses from the region more engaged and familiar with design thinking and innovation processes. These events have been a co production between Sheffield Hallam University’s Innovation Futures unit, Creative Sheffield, Gripple and Technophobia. The workshops are roughly a day and a half long, and have been expertly facilitated by Colin Burns from Elmwood. Here’s a news item from Technophobia describing one of the workshops we ran.
These workshops have been very successful, and have led to us to think about further initiatives we could produce, such as a fringe event for the MADE Entrepreneurs Festival - which led to the Speed Innovation workshops we ran in September - as well as an ongoing network of innovators and collaborators for the city and region. Something like an ‘Innovators Network’.

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