Speed Lecture – Creativity Will Get Us Out Of This Mess

Here’s the text for the Speed Lecture I gave, one of many inaugurating DMU’s Speaker’s Corner on the day that The Queen visited De Montfort University.
Hello, my name is Rob Watson and I help students learn how to make radio programmes and run DemonFM, De Montfort University’s Community Radio Station.
I want to talk briefly about creativity and the challenge of bringing sustainable social change by embracing collaborative and non-hierarchical forms of organisation.
Here at De Montfort University we have a vibrant student media community, with DemonFM, DemonTV and the Demon Newspaper.
Each of these strands of media are student run, and they embrace social media as a way of bringing together aspiring journalists, media producers and content makers.
The world of work that graduates are going to enter is starting to look and feel very different from the traditional, linear organisation that we know from the past.
Rather than working in a hierarchical and status driven media organisation, the vast majority of new producers in the media and creative industries will be expecting flatter, more esteem driven ways of working.
Where collaboration and sharing, gifting knowledge and peer-support will be the order of the day.
Only eighteen months ago many media companies were looking for only two or three skillsets. Now they are looking for eight or nine skillsets.
In radio its no longer good enough to be able to just write links and read the news. Instead new producers have to be able to write blogs, edit video, manage project management plans, collaborate using social media, respond instantly with listeners, tweet and champion the listener almost individually.
Radio’s challenge is Google and Facebook.
In their book ‘Confronting Maagerialism, Robert Locke and J-C Spender talk about the failure of the American Business School model, that strips out all historical precedent, social context, individual personality and local custom from business planning.
Locke & Spender suggest that ‘technocratic magerialism’, has become representative of the shift away from community based business practices, that are rooted in the lives of the people they serve, to the ‘algorithmic’ business models – that some argue – led us to the brink of economic disaster with the 2008 Banking Crisis.
Locke & Spender say this: “Growth and innovation can never be ‘determined’, for that implies a closed system. Rather, growth is a consequence of our human ability to pull something from the realm of the unknown into the present” (Locke & Spender 2011).
DemonFM, De Montfort University’s community radio station is an example of where volunteers and students are ‘pulling something from the realm of the unknown’.
Supported almost exclusively by volunteers, DemonFM broadcasts from 6am to 2am live from our campus based studios.
Volunteers support and train each other, deciding on the content that they want to produce, working it in to a format that is exciting and fresh.
Let me give you an analogy – a mental picture:
Ships at the cliff-side analogy.
Volunteers who contribute to DemonFM are building and working-out the essential skills for the future generations of media producers.
We don’t teach how to work in the radio industry as it was in the 1980s and 1990s. Instead we are fostering a mind-set that is about the independent skills and creativity that will give our students the edge, running radio in the 2020s and 2030s.
Who knows what the media will be like by then? Our graduates will be able to play an innovative and creative part in making the radio industry of the future happen.
Let me finish with a quote from Shakespeare:
“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we might oft win, by fearing to attempt”
(Shakespeare: Measure for Measure, Act 1, Scene IV).
Thank you. Have a wonderful morning and come and say hello to the DemonFM volunteers as the broadcast live from the Magazine Square, just around the corner.

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