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Dinner at the Innovation Café

Introducing the Innovation Café

Informal discussion formats such as dinners or networking drinks often bring together a wide range of experiences and deeply knowledgeable attendees, however there is typically no formal outcome that captures the knowledge exchanged. Formal engagements such as conferences tend to only provide a superficial level of information due to the constraints of time and the need to adapt to a lower level of general knowledge on the topics discussed.

Our Innovation Café approach addresses the challenges faced by other formats by combining the energy and enjoyment of dinner or networking event with a genuinely productive problem analysis session. The approach facilitates a depth of discussion while passively capturing the detail on real problems and real solutions that can be provided as a take-away to participants.

The InsTech Advisory Board Dinner was our first opportunity to experiment with using the format, it involved two separate tables, each discussing the same topics, with a new topic selected to begin within course.

Ahead of the event we worked closely with the sponsors and organisers to agree topics that were timely, relevant and would generate some interesting insight and debate.

The table hosts navigated the discussion through three phases as outlined (left), leading the discussion from problems/challenges, through solutions/opportunities and finally identifying any actions that should be taken.

Shared Insight

Throughout the session a Trello board was displayed for everyone to see, recording key points from the discussion on electronic cards and prompting a cross-fertilisation of ideas between the different tables.

Customer Needs

The Value Proposition Canvas provided another technique for summarising discussions that focused on the customer, it's useful for driving out potential products and services that meet new customer demands. The canvas was created real-time to provide during the discussions and reviewed at the end of each topic / course.

Final Report

Upon conclusion a 13 page report was created detailing the key discussion points. Katia Wyatt, host for the first dinner, said

"We’ve followed the same format for many years, this is the first time we have applied more structure, capturing insight and opinions to share with a wider audience."

In this report, the topics discussed were:

  1. Real Time Data and Insurance

  2. Ethics and the Machine

  3. Tiny Data Collection Forms vs GDPR

Feedback and Lessons Learned

  • Traditionally discussions tend to focus towards insight and problems, rarely moving into solutions and actions.

  • The shared Trello Board allowed discussion points to be shared between tables.

  • Participants were reallocated to different seating arrangements for each topic / dinner course, an approach generally frowned upon, but near unanimously agreed as an effective approach for this format.

  • One or two topics for discussion is best, the third topic resulted in less materials than the first two, likely because energy was lower by this stage.

  • Shares information that you might have missed (it took place at the other table for example) or for attendees who were unable to attend.

  • Creates a resource for sharing to wider customers, promoting insights

  • Additional research, value-added insights or promotional materials can be incorporated into the final report.

In concluding the event, everyone agreed that the format worked well and was pleased with the outcome.

Visit our subscription page to receive your own copy of the full report, or if your would like us to run an innovation cafe for you then our details are below.

The team at Wzard Innovation are available design and moderate a variety of event or workshop formats, including the Innovation Cafe. Get in touch to learn more.

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