Transferable Models of Innovation in Business

Andrew Sleigh, Chair of the Chief Technology Officers (CTO) Group, cordially opened events by contextualizing the session, explaining that a primary aim of the CTO group was to bring together people who are innovation leaders in their organisation to transfer knowledge on current best practices on how to innovate and how to improve innovation practices. The session did not disappoint.

In summarizing the two excellent speeches from Dr Adrian Woolard, Head of BBC R&D North Lab and the Connected Studio Innovation Programme; and Dr David Jakubovic, Head of European Open Innovation for Procter and Gamble, several interesting themes emerged.

Both speakers stressed the importance of audience and consumer led innovation connected to technology, underpinned by testing and evaluating experiences with users and ideally, in the case of the BBC, through co-creation. Adrian went deeper into this issue by talking about the current trend in innovation thinking of harnessing constructive failure based upon encouraging teams to rapidly learn through prototyping and building experiences. His passion for building ideas was encapsulated in his quote, “ a prototype beats a 1000 meetings”.

Connecting with and attracting external talent, eg from universities and other businesses, was a common driver in achieving collaborative innovation. Creative talent was seen as crucial in helping organisations to define rather than just solve problems. But both speakers articulated, in different ways, that their respective organisations had to focus very hard on defining world-class problems and or challenges in order to stimulate the best creative talent to collaborate with them.

Understanding and articulating the opportunity space was seen as a key driver in helping to foster successful innovation partnerships. However, both speakers stressed that without the ability to establish a common language and shared objectives a win-win relationship was difficult to achieve.

IPR was also discussed. This is where clear differences could be seen due to the nature of industries and activities that their respective organisations were engaged in. Adrian expressed the need within his sector to be flexible but underpinned by clarity, where David spoke of the need for a more formalized approach.


Summary by Professor Simon Bolton, Birmingham City University, of a discussion that was part of a Business Afternoon at the British Science Festival on 8 September 2014

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