Since I started working on my PhD late last year, a lot of the research has tied in really well with my web design and online business development activity. One of the most interesting cross-overs is between the Chiasma events we’re developing and the consultancy work that I’ve long done around developing the online aspect of small businesses.

First things’s first though, I can almost hear you from here: What on earth is a Chiasma…?

Going Further Back: Design in Action

Chiasma: A startup weekend Competitor

Well, to start with, let’s explain Design in Action, the catalyst of the Chiasma. The Design in Action (DiA) project is primarily centred around the promotion of innovation through design. This process begins with the Chiasma. Chiasma events are based on the sandpit model developed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The EPSRC events are designed to be high level, long lasting, residential interactions between really diverse groups of researchers, practitioners and consumers. All of this is intended to promote radical and innovative thinking around a research problem.

What is a Chiasma?

Chiasmas are condensed versions of the sandpit model, running for 2 or 3 days rather than 5, and intended to achieve the same goal – the promotion of innovative solutions to pre-set problems. Small businesses are invited to attend a specifically themed event, for example ‘Wellbeing’, and form teams with other business owners and designers. These teams work together over three days to formulate ideas and solutions to a problem in the sector, resulting in a new product or service which will then be developed in collaboration.

It’s the combination of both business experience and design expertise that sets Chiasmas apart from similar events in the past. We’re hoping that combo will produce disruptive thinking in all of the sectors involved.

So, What about the Competition?

Other live collaborative problem solving events do exist. One brand of events which provides a really useful comparison for our project is the famous Startup Weekend.

Startup Weekend has a very similar goal in that new products or services are created over one weekend by newly formed teams of individuals, all with different and complimenting skills. Freedom and creativity are encouraged, and a winning concept is judged at the end of the event, in a similar manner to the Chiasma events.

What Does This Have to Do With the Web?

So, why is this crossing over with my web design work, and why should you care? Well, I think it’s a really good confirmation on why it’s worth involving designers and developers in your business development process. I talk to small business owners every day about developing their business – how to create new products, new services, all in a digital context – and the Chiasmas are confirming to me how valuable it is to get people from different backgrounds together to encourage innovation.

If you’re looking to grow your business, develop a new product or create a new service, give us a shout. The combined design knowledge, development expertise and external viewpoint of our team, joined with your expert industry knowledge, can create a really powerful catalyst for innovation. It can get you started on a new path, or give you a new viewpoint on an old one.

Going by the great results we’ve seen at the Chiasmas, it’s well worth a try. Drop us a line!

Image Credit: GangplankHQ on Flickr


Colin Gray is a web designer, internet marketer, small business development advisor, elearning lecturer and current PhD student. Find out more about Colin Gray, or contact him on Google+