AKRI

Thinking : Innovation, process

Diagram : Innovation
                    Process and Barriers

Click Diagram for Larger Version

Steps

Creative Environment

"A manager’s duty isn't so much to be task focussed, it’s to create the environment for others to succeed and in order to do that then you’ve got to examine the way you behave, the way that your organisation reacts to that behaviour and therefore what environment you’ve created and how it will pursue the organisational goal. So they will be pursued in the task fashion if you set up a task type of environment. They will be pursued in an innovative way if you work at setting up an innovative environment. His prime duty is to create the environment for others to succeed."

Neil McKay - Operations Director Aerostructures, British Aerospace

Generate Ideas

"The people from whom you hope to derive project ideas must have the confidence that the backing will be there if the thing flies. Obviously if there’s a history of ideas evaluated and then turned down then cynicism will set in which in turn will be a negative factor for innovation so I think it's a positive climate. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that you have to be able to promise people ready cash in order to create ideas I don’t think the process is quite so immediate, but there must be knowledge that the company’s done innovative things in the past and that they have been funded."

Mike Lawton - Director (Retired), TDS CAD Graphics

Present Ideas

"You’ve got to have this atmosphere where people are free to give opinions and ideas and also the people who listen to them realistically take them seriously."

Nigel Worswick -Director, Alan Worswick Engineering

Filter

"There is nearly always a filter to these ideas and it’s usually always a decision maker. So somebody who has the idea takes it to somebody and says ‘This is a really good idea, what do you think?’ And the success or failure of that depends on how they take that on board."

Nigel Worswick -Director, Alan Worswick Engineering

Validation

"Having got into that new area you can then flesh it out like you might almost furnish a room or develop a college course by saying, Right, is this core concept rich enough to be enhanced in interactive discussion and can it then be translated into technology initiatives?"

Mike Lawton - Director (Retired), TDS CAD Graphics

"Probably the important single factor I believe is access to the Internet. I seem to find that our own team here will very often will progress from today’s feasibility study to tomorrow’s detailed project idea by spending many hours overnight on the Internet, searching the web, to look for examples, keyword searches, pattern searches and will as individuals come in both exhausted and refreshed by that ability to access those knowledge bases around the world and it does seem to me that that is a new phenomenon over the last 5 years which as far as I’m concerned has made all the difference in the world to one's ability to promote that the process of innovation."

Mike Lawton - Director (Retired), TDS CAD Graphics

Prototype

It is usually necessary to create a prototype product (or service) before production. This ensures that the idea can be translated into a product and it also provides an opportunity to locate and rectify problems and errors.

Production & Evaluation

A final detailed evaluation should be carried out in the light of experience gained from prototype production and trials. Once a company commits to production it may also be committing to considerable capital outlay.

Production & Market

Evaluation will have included a review of the market. As production begins it will be necessary to take steps to ensure that a product or service finds adequate customers. Marketing is at least as important as production.

Internal Barriers

Culture of Blame

"It's about management behaviour. It’s about what you say, it’s about how you act and as with all of these values it’s about how you change over time. You don’t change from the previous animal that you were overnight but you got to be constantly saying to yourself ‘Have I moved out of that box, am I 30% more into the other box’, and gradually you do look to demonstrate that you don't act as you did maybe 10 years ago as often and you’ll be around to talk to people, to encourage them to try things differently and react professionally and in a more modern way when issues do go out of control. If your first instinct when somebody tells you that we scrapped something in the machine shop is ‘Who is he and is he still working here?’ then it’s not conducive to an innovative environment. So we have to challenge that approach. Obviously you’ve got to be careful with that approach so it doesn’t take you into a complacent couldn't care less issue around your quality targets. But has to be one that gives freedom to people to try new ideas and to be comfortable and confident that they’ll get support when they do."

Neil McKay - Operations Director Aerostructures, British Aerospace

Staff Motivation

"The innovative issue isn’t just about the process of manufacture. It’s about, for example, the process of people development and so on, and if you’re innovative and prepared to take different approaches to those, then the rewards in performance improvement are phenomenal because the performance improvements in businesses in my area in the last 3 or 4 years have doubled. They don’t double because you get a little better at forming parts or machining parts or assembling parts. Some of that is there because of innovation of the very process but the innovation by the ways in which you motivate people in terms of the interest in developing them rather than just chasing the headbanging process is something that has instilled far more motivation in people and is a big player in our much improved result."

"It is a cocktail of effects. In particular we have the Chairman’s Award for Innovation which is regulated through bronze, silver and gold awards. There's a panel to judge Bronze Awards, Silver and then they go on to a Gold award that's across BAE and that takes in a big celebratory event in a good location that really sends a signal across the organisation that we do want to reward innovation."

Neil McKay - Operations Director Aerostructures, British Aerospace

"I think a key factor for a small company is having just about everybody in it aware of the company's need to make progress, aware of the rate of obsolescence in technology which demands new products on ever tighter timescales. So I think a general factor is people knowing that no-one owes a living and we have to be creative to thrive and I think perhaps other factors are to encourage those people with the professional skills to do things like pattern searches, attend conferences, attend seminars very much with an idea of networking in order to have the right mindset for innovation."

Mike Lawton - Director (Retired), TDS CAD Graphics

Unapproachable Management

"What I am always very keen to do is to learn of the strategic framework for the future both technology and markets that others are identifying share them with our own people and say 'How does that tie in?' , 'Do their perceptions share with ours?' Because we all benefit from hearing from other people telling us about the world now and in the future, and trying to relate it to ourselves."

Mike Lawton - Director (Retired), TDS CAD Graphics

"A manager’s duty isn’t so much to be task focussed, it’s to create the environment for others to succeed and in order to do that then you've got to examine the way you behave, the way that your organisation reacts to that behaviour and therefore what environment you've created and how it will pursue the organisational goal. So they will be pursued in the task fashion if you set up a task type of environment. They will be pursued in an innovative way if you work at setting up an innovative environment. His prime duty is to create the environment for others to succeed."

Neil McKay - Operations Director Aerostructures, British Aerospace

Management Systems

"I don't think one should ever rule out the single mega-brilliant idea which transforms a company’s future from no hope to Microsoft, but that’s going to be the exception rather than the rule and I think anybody who tries to manage the process of innovation by looking for lottery winning breakthroughs is perhaps being a little naive."

"I’m not totally sure that we can manage it in the sense of a manual of how to do it. What I am sure of is that you can do a number of actions and plans and communications sessions which are consciously intended to create a climate of innovation to which others will then contribute."

"From time to time you will get a ‘Knight’s move' a big breakthrough which is extremely exciting, but I know of no way to manage that process; there's a awful lot of look in there....‘Road to Damascus’ moments; tremendous but how do you manage that process? What I believe is manageable is the idea of saying to people, ‘We have ideas in our heads, we have ideas in our team knowledge base, we have ideas from our contact network. Let’s constantly overhaul them and look for new angles, new opportunities’. That I believe is a process that you can seek to manage."

Mike Lawton - Director (Retired), TDS CAD Graphics

Inexperience

Once an idea has been validated, the move to prototype production involves a set of specific actions and processes. If the organisation has no experience in this area, these processes and procedures may be missing and therefore difficulties may arise.

Investment Capital

"The people from whom you hope to derive project ideas must have the confidence that the backing will be there if the thing flies. Obviously if there's a history of ideas evaluated and then turned down then cynicism will set in which in turn will be a negative factor for innovation so I think it's a positive climate. I wouldn't go so far as to say that you have to be able to promise people ready cash in order to create ideas I don't think the process is quite so immediate, but there must be knowledge that the company's done innovative things in the past and that they have been funded."

Mike Lawton - Director (Retired), TDS CAD Graphics

External Barriers

Employment Regulations

Employment regulations could be seen as a barrier preventing employer's from taking on the staff they think they need.

Local Regulations

Local building, employment or environmental regulations may mean that some projects are not possible in their present form. It is important to ensure that these regulations can be satisfied at an early stage.

Taxes/Regulations

General taxation and national or international regulations can cause some products or services to fail. It is important to ensure that all regulations and taxes etc are investigated throughout the potential market area, and preferably beyond.