Innovation in organisations

People have lots of ideas. Ideas that come from curiosity about why things happen and why things work the way they do. Ideas to make their life safer and easier.

Ideas are limitless. Ideas drive innovation. And people are attracted to and engaged by innovation.

Innovations compound – every innovation unearths another idea. We are where we are now because of the build up of ideas and innovations throughout our history.

The spread of ideas is growing ever faster. It is powered by curiosity and the spread of education, and fuelled by the sharing of information through the internet and technology.

Ideas are turned into innovations by individuals and by organisations. This isn’t always straightforward, and it doesn’t just happen on its own.

There are a number of factors that limit innovation and solutions in organisations – lack of an idea, lack of information, lack of time, lack of coordination, habits, attitudes and honest wrong beliefs.

Innovation by its very nature challenges the status quo. It often means making changes, so it requires effort. At organisational level innovation therefore needs structure, support and direction.

In the mid-1980’s I was fortunate enough to learn about how some organisations had developed a structured process to generate ideas and use them to drive innovations in their industries.  The process was developed after World War 2, when there was the need to rebuild industry at a time when there were great shortages of materials and money.  People had to find different and better ways to do things.  These methods have been used and developed by many organisations for over 60 years.

The approach, called Value Management, was initially developed in the 1940s at General Electric to improve manufacturing. Over following decades, its use spread to technical applications, commercial applications, large engineering projects, and management.  In Japan it is used by nearly all companies that apply quality principles, and underpins the Lean Production methodologies that have been picked up across the globe.

The approach is now used to develop innovative strategies and solutions in organisations in all sectors and in every facet of their work.

The approach is based on the belief there is always a better way. It is both analytical and creative.  It starts with understanding why things are done – what is their purpose?  This opens up the question – how else could we do it?  And that opens up the almost limitless world of innovation.

More information can be found in “The Machine That Changed The World” by Womack JP, Jones DT, Roos D, published by Rawson in 1990. And also in “Get Competitive” by Lynn Tylczack, 1990.

 

Wayne Regan
Former Director and Management Consultant
Value Edge Consulting