Where do Brilliant Ideas Come from?
Business history is littered with businesses that failed to innovate.
Along came a competitor who managed to do things better, faster and cheaper. These new businesses were more focused on what customers needed, sometimes even better than customers did themselves. And they found ways to deliver it.
The ability to innovate is inseparable from the ability to create enhanced value. It’s also fundamental for survival as we operate in an ever changing world.
Brilliant ideas rarely just appear – and certainly not in teams that are all flat out trying to meet deadlines. These people don’t have time to think about anything else. A genuinely progressive business gives people time to innovate. It also provides a structure that directs creativity towards meeting customer needs.
Some people might look at the 10% of time we allow our people to imagine better ways of doing things as a significant cost. We prefer to see it as an investment: finding the time to save time (and cost), improve quality, and deliver better outcomes for our customers.
This will more than pay itself back – but only if it is directed, captured and measured in the right way.
Time is just part of the innovation puzzle. Other areas where we’ve worked hard to create an innovative culture include:
•Giving direction and setting expectations.
•Creating a technical infrastructure to capture and share ideas.
•Engaging with industry experts and academics to broaden horizons and expertise.
•Using BIM to share learning and knowledge.
•Coordinating design, construction and maintenance activities to align with customer needs.
•Short lines of communication to empower project teams close to the customers.
Generating ideas is just the start. If innovation time is an investment, then, like any other investment you have to measure the return. Digital data collection, tracking targets, and measuring the impact and value created by Improvement Opportunities are all essential.
Infrastructure operators are under ever increasing budget pressure, while being expected to deliver more output and lower lifetime asset costs. The innovation that delivers these challenging goals has to come from the supply chain and we’re determined to play our part.