Surrey Business School


Launch of the Centre for Leadership and Decision Making

  • Tuesday 04 Oct. 2016

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Centre for Sustainable Enterprise Management, Research Day Series

  • Tuesday 18 Oct. 2016

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Surrey MBA - Live 2 Lead

  • Thursday 27 Oct. 2016

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Student Enterprise

The University of Surrey‘s supportive environment for young entrepreneurs is reflected in our membership of SETsquared, a collaboration of universities to support growth and success of new business opportunities through spin-outs, licensing and incubation.

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World class business incubation

Congratulations to Surrey’s SETsquared, named the best University business incubator in the world by UBI Global.

Find out more about SETsquared and Surrey Incubation.

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Discover our programmes

Ranked 2nd for Business and management in the Guardian University Guide 2017

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Who we work with

At Surrey Business School, we collaborate with a number of private, public and third sector organisations.

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Surrey Business School is accredited by both the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Association of MBAs (AMBA).

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Our blog

  • CoDE Blog Sept 2016


    Over the past few months at Surrey Business School’s Centre for the Digital Economy (CoDE) we have spent a great deal of time working with businesses from many domains who are looking to understand their capacity for new product creation, to develop their potential for innovative thinking, and to shorten the time from ideas into value. For the established organisations, the engagements often start with a simple question:

    Why aren’t more of our ideas getting off the drawing board and into our customers’ hands? There seems to be a blockage in our innovation pipeline

    Of course, every company and every domain is different. So we’ve looked at this problem from many angles, and come up with varying ways to frame the challenge and address the concerns. However, at the heart of the issue, we believe that there must be a fundamental shift in approach for organizations to successfully improve their innovation capacity. We often refer to this as adopting a discipline of Agile Innovation Engineering. That is, a measured, purposeful set of practices that demonstrate stakeholder value in short, time-boxed iterations.

    Key to an agile approach to innovation is embracing a culture of experimentation throughout the organization. Traditional ‘pipelined’ thinking for promoting new ideas, based on long-term lock-in of a complex business plan, must be replaced with a spirit of discovery, adaptability, and re-targeting made necessary by the buffeting any idea will receive in early customer feedback. As Mike Tyson succinctly put it, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth!”

    It was with this in mind that I was particularly intrigued by a recent article by Michael Schrage in the Sloan Review promoting “Experimentation & Scaling” as the successor to “Research & Development” in large corporations.

    The main conclusions from the article look like a great summary of the kinds of lessons we have been learning as we develop Agile Innovation Engineering: blending design thinking, lean start-up practices, and agile principles in our corporate problem-solving engagements. To expand on Schrage’s key findings, innovation is enhanced when organizations:

    1. Resist the temptation to over-analyse before acting (“analysis paralysis”) and engage in a wide variety of low-cost experiments;
    2. Spend less time in the search for the “perfect” idea, and rather focus on finding interesting questions that lead to testable hypotheses;
    3. Use constraints (financial, technical, environmental, legal, etc.) productively to spur creativity and inventiveness;
    4. Bring increased transparency and interaction with stakeholders by inviting others to participate as early and often as possible in experiments;
    5. Explicitly balance priorities across internal and external stakeholders via open discussions;
    6. Emphasize the need to obtain insights into interesting questions above the detailed demands of product delivery that can sidetrack an experimental approach;
    7. Look for both strong and weak signals being received by carefully tracking the hypotheses being examined, the lessons learned, and the patterns of behaviour being observed;
    8. Treat all stakeholders with respect, engage in honest interactions with clients, and take the time to listen to all feedback.

    Adopting these ideas will help you move firmly in the direction of an Agile Innovation Engineering discipline in your organization.

    Happy experimenting!

    Kris Henley 

  • Award Winning Case History – European Conference for Research Methodology (ECRM), 2016

    Award winning casr study- ECRM July 2016

    In collaboration with Dr. Smirti Kutaula (Kingston Business School) and Prof. Mark Saunders (Birmingham Business School), I received a runner’s up prize for our paper titled: “Using Storytelling to Teach Sampling Techniques” at the European Conference for Research Methodology (ECRM), 2016 at Kingston Business School.

    Our award winning case history is published in 2016 Innovation in Teaching of Research Methodology Excellence Awards An Anthology of Case Histories ISBN: 9781910810972. Over 40 submissions were entered, proposing innovative teaching techniques for research methods and a panel of judges chose 10 finalists.

    Teaching research methods is a challenge for most teachers, yet a sound knowledge of research methods is the key to opening many doors, almost guaranteeing  good research outcomes. The task concept which prefaced our paper was to propose an innovative and academically sound means of teaching research methods.

    We chose the medium of storytelling. The aim of telling stories was, traditionally, in the form of cautionary tales to help people understand real and complex situations, by creating ‘mind pictures’ which are much easier for us to remember. Because we employed storytelling techniques, the audience was helped to understand the theme and linkage between the ways storytelling can help students understand complex research method concepts – such as sampling – in more relatable and engaging ways. 

    Our light-hearted storytelling style presentation was well received and gained positive feedback from the judges and audiences. The experience of being a story-teller to an adult audience was amazing, and one which I really enjoyed.


    Dr. Alvina Gillani

    Teaching Fellow in Marketing and Strategy, Surrey Business School

  • A great first day of the DEAL workshops. A very useful and provocative intro from David Plans, some Digital Economy “ducking and diving” from Alan Brown, then a really wonderful seminar and workshop from Annabelle Gawer for the rest of the day, exploring the changing nature of value and ecosystems due to Digital Platforms. A lively audience, and great feedback from the sessions.

    Annabelle Gawer DEAL workshop PicMonkey 1000 Annbelle Gawer

    It is an exciting week for us: the first significant gathering of Surrey Business School’s, Centre for the Digital Economy (CoDE) top ‘minds on Digital’ in one creative, intensive, and high-energy workshop running a full week in the Business insights Lab – all for the benefit of startups.

    The sessions are co-sponsored with ENDuRE, the European Network of Design for Resilient Entrepreneurship. Chief of ENDuRE at Surrey and CoDE team member Dr David Plans kicked off the week with a blast of insight about the challenges, opportunities, and surreal experiences in store for European startups like his, BioBeats. ‘Often,’ he stressed, ‘change is the most difficult part of any business. Even with the perfect business model, startups hit a wall they didn’t anticipate, and die. Even though ‘fail quickly’ is an Agile principle, it’s not great for the economy; however, by failing, we also find out what a good idea actually IS’.

    The madness and contradictions inherent in getting a startup off the ground is why ENDuRE got started: to change how entrepreneurship is taught; and to facilitate interaction amongst European startups. The latter isn’t easy: fundraising is different from country to country; cultural logistics vary widely; and Brexit is going to make it harder to have the conversations.


    David Plans gif David Plans

    Some more of David’s advice to our audience from both the business community and the Surrey MBA:

    • ‘In terms of the iteration of funding and the speed of business, the UK is like a limping elephant compared with the US’s cheetah. But, in turn, the UK makes Europe look slow.’
    • ‘Ideas are worthless. Execution is everything. Your team, therefore, is the most important asset you’ve got.’
    • ‘Be prepared for questions from potential investors like, Have you ever been divorced? Have you ever had a nervous breakdown? They are trying to find out how much of yourself you put into your business. They are looking for a “racehorse”.’
    • ‘Once you’ve made a successful pitch and the funding starts, you’ll probably end up having to fire yourself. That’s how you know you’ve succeeded.’

    David’s conclusions: Resilience is the key — plus testing everything, iterating daily, and getting used to swimming in a sea of change.

    Over to Professor Alan Brown, who asked – What does it really mean to be successful? He encouraged the spirit of Experimentation: together within the workshop – but also conducting business in a much more interactive way. ‘It’s possible,’ says Alan, ‘that everything we teach at business school is wrong – that rather than looking to theory on past business cases, we should be looking to ourselves, to “emerging knowledge” as we shape it, to luck, and to experimentation – perhaps this is the new formula for learning, with discovery blended with execution.’

    Professor Annabelle Gawer spent the afternoon guiding the workshop through one of the most significant areas of the Digital Economy, using her ground-breaking research on Platforms. Platforms went from enigma to buzzword in a few short years – and Annabelle was there from the beginning. She explains, Digital platforms constitute 70% of all unicorns (companies whose valuation exceeds $1 billion), and they affect our lives as citizens, employees, or entrepreneurs. This is why we must understand deeply how they create value, as well as what forces drive the distribution of the value created”.

    She continues, “Entrepreneurs must understand how to build platform businesses in our digital economy”. Her passion is infectious, and the questions kept coming throughout her session.

    Day 2 found us learning about Value and Digital: Professor Roger Maull and Dr Phil Godsiff ran the gamut from Open Data and the Internet of Things to a Blockchain exercise involving Lego, stickers, maths problems, and an imaginary marketplace, in an extremely lively and effective hands-on demonstration of how Blockchain really works.

    It’s Day 3, and we’ll be hosting the IBM UK Emerging Technologies Team for a Design Studio session, and a day dedicated to ‘design thinking.’

    We’re only halfway through the week, but we’re exhilarated and inspired, and already certain that ‘DEAL’ will be an annual event.

    Who knows what the Digital Revolution will look like in a year? We can only guess – so make sure to join us as we get to grips with the next wave of innovation.

    Kris Henley 

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Who we work with

At Surrey Business School, we’ve created an innovative and stimulating environment in which our academics, students and alumni work with international corporate businesses, SMEs and government, offering bespoke consultancy and applied education programmes. Here are just a few examples of some of the organisations we’re currently working with: