In this, the first in a series of blogs with the team behind our new Innovation Kit, we talk to Neill Jones. Neill was instrumental to the development of the kit, bringing his own brand of expertise to the project - something you can find out more about by reading on...
Our Innovation Kit is finally finished and available to buy right now! In this series of blog articles we're going to talk to the people who were involved in creating the kit, getting their thoughts on innovation in general as well as insight into how the kit was developed and what makes it unique.
So, without further ado, let's hand over to Neill Jones...
So Neill, tell us a bit about yourself
I'm the Operations Director of Newicon, and have been involved in software research and development since the early 1990s.
I started in research on distributed systems for telecoms and now work for Newicon where daily we help our clients innovate their businesses to take advantage of digital technology.
In your own words, what is Innovation?
Innovation can range from simple incremental improvements to company processes or products, through disruptive innovations that change how entire business sectors operate, to the creation of completely new business sectors.
A key distinction between invention and innovation is the successful nature implied with innovation in making small or large improvements to businesses or people's lives.
Innovation is a successful invention.
Why is it important for companies to innovate?
First, because your competitors do and for one business to be more successful than another business they may only have to do something a little bit better in some sense.
Staying ahead of the game or even just keeping up requires a business to see change as a constant and continual innovation is a great way to change successfully.
Secondly, internal innovation is important to keep businesses more cost-effective and to eliminate waste or reliance on outdated approaches or particular individuals.
You can do a lot with Excel, but you can so much more with databases, intranets and web applications.
Tell us about your experience while working on the Innovation Kit
We set ourselves the challenge to see if we could produce something to help kickstart innovation within a business over a multiple-day workshop through formalising what we naturally do with our clients. Our current kit concentrates on a single-day workshop but we also will look at what a two-, three- or one-week workshop might look like.
To get to this point, we worked through many well-known exercises concentrating on how the innovation flowed through from the first to the last.
Some exercises we tried relied upon detailed knowledge that may not be available or were at the wrong level of detail at that point, or which just seemed to drag sapping the group energy.
These were either removed or replaced through other mechanisms as we honed the process.
Eventually, we found a minimum set of exercises that flowed together, provided quick and clear value, could be run in a single day and were fun and energetic to do.
What is the biggest strength of the Innovation Kit?
The result of this is a great starting point for thinking about innovation. It leads naturally into a longer design process where many of the assumptions can be tested, exercises expanded, designs refined and ideas collated into a full set of features over time. Bringing other expertise into the fuller design process is also easier as the thinking has been captured in a simple format that can be reviewed and improved as a living document.
It also talks in a language which clients, designers and developers can all speak together.
Name a current innovation you find amazing?
I'll give a couple. The first has to be NASA's sky-crane used to land Curiosity and Perseverance onto the surface of Mars which is just genius in its apparent simplicity.
The second is old hat, but it is the use of hydrogen both as a refrigerant to cool the metal of the space shuttle rockets to prevent them from melting before then becoming the actual fuel to fire those same rockets. I'd love to have been in the meeting when someone suggested that.
Who is your favorite innovator?
As you can tell from the above, I love my science and apart from NASA who regularly visit the planets, the next have to be Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos for daring to try.
If you'd like to find out more about our Innovation Kit and what it can do for your business, then you can find out more by visiting our product page. There, you can sign up to our mailing list and receive a free set of activities from the kit to give you a taste of what it can do for you.
Keep an eye out for the next blog in this series, where we'll interview another member of the team behind the kit.
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