The Enterprisers Programme May 31-June 3, 2011.
Sally Bream D.Phil. Creative and Critical Practice
School of Media, Film and Music.
This year the Enterprisers Programme was sponsored by science and technology companies and drew research students mainly from those areas of study. I got a chance to meet and work with research students from the University of Cambridge, the University of St. Andrews, as well as the University of Sussex. As a D.Phil. researcher in the humanities, I found the Programme useful for developing new ideas, communicating and collaborating with students from a range of disciplines.
Shai Vyakarnam, Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (CfEL), part of Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge, was one of the Programme leaders for the event.
The aims of the Programme are:
- To develop entrepreneurial confidence in individuals
- To support a social and ethical context for venture creation
- To unleash creativity
- To stimulate enterprising ideas
The Programme this year took place at the Robinson Executive Conference Centre, Wyboston Lakes, in Bedfordshire, in May/June, over four days (The conference centre has slick facilities, wonderful food and amazingly efficient staff). Entrepreneurial course leaders from the University of Cambridge, Judge Business School led a programme of strategic thinking, group workshops, and brainstorming activities to generate new ideas for business or exciting new projects. What I took away with me was a sense of how different cultures can work collaboratively to create new ideas and opportunities.
The programme was intended to re-programme some of our ways of thinking about structuring our research into entrepreneurial opportunities, either immediately, or for the future. The tutors relayed their knowledge to the delegates, but there was also a two-way flow in the learning process, where the tutors were also challenging their own approaches to knowledge exchange.
Everyone worked incredibly hard. We were given guidance about developing our ideas and our approach to team work and then asked to do more than we were capable of: we were pushed beyond our limits at times. The programme was exhausting and re-juvenationg at the same time.
The programme involved us with sixty other researchers in large groups as well as smaller group formations that focussed on specific problem-solving tasks.
Day One – Moi
We arrived at 10.30, found our rooms, had lunch and networked, then had an introductory talk that got us all to define our goals and expectations. We then worked in small focus groups.
We explored our own personal values and motivations and were asked to think more deeply about our aspirations during the programme and beyond. We all made our own coat of arms showing our strengths.
We discussed our potential ideas: mine was that I wanted to collaborate with either a farming/rural community and/or the South Downs National Park Authority. This collaboration would enable my research to reach outside of the academic community and to create a link between the university research community and a non-academic community, perhaps in relation to conservation issues.
We all did a group exercise called BaFa BaFa. This was an incredible revelation into one’s pre-conceived ideas about the nature of group interactions and how to join in with a group. The exercise was very complicated, and very powerful.
We all worked until 8.30 p.m. every evening when we had dinner and continued to network with the 60 other people.
Day Two – Ideation
Learning how to engage with others in a plan in order to implement an idea. Working as part of a group, the first time I have ever built a rocket that flew.
After this practical exercise, we looked at the roles that we as individuals within the team took. We also discussed issues such as communication and co-operation. I found that individuals work well together not only when everyone’s strengths are used, but also when people listen to each other and consider ideas carefully before making a decision.
We all completed a Belbin Team Role questionnaire. I found that when working in a group my strengths were as a completer/finisher, team worker and shaper.
Day Three – Nuts ‘n’ Bolts
Crystallizing ideas into a viable project.
Understanding that a strong network of people is needed for an entrepreneurial idea to succeed.
We met a selection of real entrepreneurs and had the opportunity to ask them about their experience of setting up a new venture. We also got a chance to meet Sharon Phillips, Head of Business and Enterprise at the University of Sussex.
Day Four – Crystal Ball
Keeping the dream alive: motivation, sustaining your commitment and moving forward.
A cabaret – where we all had half an hour to make a short group performance based on an aspect of the Programme.
I gained confidence in collaborating with people from a variety of academic, business and cultural backgrounds. I also began to plan my own entrepreneurial idea about developing a photographic archive.
I also look forward to going to future Enterprise Thursdays at the University of Sussex.