thoughts on the Brighton Fuse research

Having missed the presentation of the Brighton Fuse research a few weeks ago I thought it’d be a good idea to read up on it, given I’ll be at an event later where some of the findings are going to be discussed.

I was one of the 77 people interviewed as part of the project, almost two years ago now, so I’ve been following progress of this all quite keenly.

First feelings on it all were ones of pride at being part of what is a great scene down here in Brighton; a scene that that keeps growing in size, prominence and profile.  I always wanted to live in Brighton since I was about five, so I get a lot out of the fact that most of my working life has been spent in the city. The second big thing I got from it is that I think I have a clearer understanding of what the FuseBox is all about and what it might present in terms of opportunities for our business and our team.

So what are those opportunities?  Well, they are based on what I see fused firms as being about.  I’ll try and paraphrase my understanding of that:  Basically a fused business is one that experiences decent growth as a result of ‘fusing’ together skills from people with both and arts and humanities background and a technical background.  To be honest, I’ve got a few issues with 'background’ seeing it seems to implicitly imply a link between education and vocation, because I don’t think the former represents an exclusive path to the latter. But ignoring that, fused firms are ones which can manage diversity and use it to grow.

So, back to the opportunities.  Yes, are a fused firm on some levels, in that we draw our team from a range of diverse backgrounds, but as time goes on we are more and more becoming specialists in one area; open source delivery which provides clients with operational freedom.  We don’t do design, branding or comms and although we still do some provision of editorial content we do less of it these days and less social media engagement or web marketing.  For us, the future is about focusing on our core competencies (which I don’t see as particularly 'fused’) and partnering with other specialists who cover the areas we don’t.

And that’s where potentially the Fusebox presents an opportunity because it provides a chance to work and innovate with other people or teams on new ideas and projects.

In terms of the research, what I’d really be interested in knowing is this:-

1.  What is the level of people with music backgrounds working in the CDIT sector in Brighton?  For me music fuses creativity and maths - and being a musician often requires close team work.  Thus I’m not particularly surprised to find that within miggle we have 2 guitarists, a bassist, a drummer, a signer and a couple of keyboard players (we don’t yet have a band, nor have we found time for a jam…).  I’d like to see the research with knowing what the percentage music made up within the arts and humanities group.

2.  I wonder what the research would look like if you could pull out certain industries from it - maybe those who identify primarily as being full service, or digital marketing, or games etc.  I think innovation means something different in each and in reading the research at an aggregated level it’s not easy to see how innovative the innovation is.  I guess I’m slightly suspicious that some respondent businesses may be so used to presenting and marketing themselves as diverse, multi-skilled, innovative and fused that this could have perhaps skewed some of the results.

Finally, the findings on mastery I found really interesting.  For us a business, growing the team with the right talent will always be one of the hardest challenges *if* we grow.  If we were content, or able, to remain as a business of 2-5 people, this wouldn’t be so much of an issue and the research seems to bear this out.  There are plenty of businesses in Brighton that will always do really well without ever needing to grow beyond that level.  Whether any of those businesses can create the headline success story that the Brighton cluster might need to achieve some of its aims is another thing.  Does Brighton need or has it had headline success stories to date?  And with or without those, if the micro businesses, many of which have been set up as lifestyle businesses are to continue to flourish, then what support do they need?  Do things like the Fusebox help them, or are they a diversion to an otherwise requirement to be laser focussed?
I’m really interested in hearing other’s thoughts on this, as well as shaping my own, as the research becomes more widely discussed and things like the Fusebox develop.

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