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In 2018 STEAMhouse opened its doors to a community of businesses, entrepreneurs, creatives and artists, and the academic world. Unsurprisingly there was great interest from many who saw the value in collaborating not only with the University, but also with people from a range of disciplines, and businesses spanning an array of sectors.
STEAMhouse is led by Birmingham City University in partnership with the arts organisation Eastside Projects as a hub to exchange knowledge and ideas, create new products and prototypes, and support local economic growth.
Along the way we’ve had the opportunity to work with some brilliant minds and some fascinating projects. Collectively we have gained new insights to what we believe makes an essential STEAM collaboration, starting with five basic principles.
Here are our 5 basic principles…
Unless you’re a creative genius exploring a topic, a challenge, or problem, be it a sticking point within a business process, or how to tackle big societal issues such as those associated with climate change can be an unfathomable aspiration. For many of us, we do not have all the answers, skills, and experience to come up with that one bright idea and necessary technical know how to implement well-rounded solutions on our own.
When working in a cross-disciplinary way it can be helpful to explore the attributes of other people. Throughout our lives we are always accumulating new skills. Some are prominent, some are dormant, some useful to us, some useful to others, some exciting, some mundane. One thing we know is that what we have stored within our ‘kit bag’ whether it’s a well-honed skill or some forgotten about knowledge can be extremely valuable to share with others too.
Following on from exploration, which could also be considered something akin to a skills audit allowing people to create cross-disciplinary groups to develop their ideas, we have collaboration.
Working with others, and especially with new people in a collaborative environment can help you consider different opinions and perspectives, and allow you to test our thinking and build a position that resonates more widely.
Linked to exploration it helps you understand your network when playing with creative ideas, and brings new energy to finding new possibilities for collaborative problem solving.
That said, collaboration can take perseverance to get right and results should not be instantly or easily expected. Settling on a shared understanding and vision, grounding ideas in ‘the why’ is an ideal starting point to ensure the best possible outcomes for all involved.
What we first perceive is likely not the whole picture. There are always things to learn, especially when we discuss the experiences of others.
Communication is critical when working on sharing ideas. In a group format it is also important to hear all view points and allow everyone to be heard. It is a foundation for connection and trust and a key factor for collaborations and partnerships to thrive and grow.
Having a sense of openness can enable us to be receptive to new or unusual ideas, and can create space for the unexpected. We all face challenges of different size and scope, and sharing these can bring about moments of inspiration when someone suggests an unforeseen solution or way forward.
We’re often exposed to patterns of closed thinking, whether at work or in relationships. It is important to break down closed thinking systematically, instead favouring an inquisitive mind-set. Some of the most inspiring moments can come from the most unexpected of corners.
At STEAMhouse we aim to help innovate and move you towards your personal and business goals. Innovation can be a series of iterative steps which help you get from a certain starting position – for example the understanding of a product or service problem, and finding a solution without having any predetermined ideas of where you would finally end up.
The application of the above mentioned principles allows for experimentation, new perspectives, difference of thinking, and new solutions that can be explored and developed.
Underpinning all of our principles is EQUALITY. Be it equality of input or equality of discipline; each discipline, each person’s contribution is equally valuable. Accepting this overriding principle removes judgement and allows for the very best of effort from all involved. Thus you will see boundaries pushed, experimentation, and enjoyment in whatever project or challenge you’re working on.
For more information about joining STEAMhouse or to apply for your fully funded membership, click here.