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How to become more innovative

PA Consulting Group’s, chief innovation officer, Frazer Bennett is quoted in an article in Management Today following his recent panel session on the Future of Work Conference about innovation.

The article notes that the word ‘innovation’ often conjures up images of scientists in white coats, but that innovation can be found anywhere in organisations. It also states that there is no such thing as an original idea.

Reflecting on this topic, Frazer says that: “I love stealing ideas from one place and applying them to another.

“We’re developing new kinds of cotton fabric. We built more candy floss machines than they’ve got at Alton Towers, and we’re using them to spin cotton. We stole stuff out of hearing aids to make medical patches. If you go to a concert at the O2 and look up, you’ll see an array of bird watching microphones pointing to the audience – we created a crowd engagement system out of it. That’s what innovation looks like to me.”

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The article goes on to say that a key part of developing an innovative culture is knowing which ideas to keep and which to can. Frazer adds that: “An important part of innovation is saying no to stuff.”

The alternative to this is turning good failures into expensive failures and not having the resources to follow up on the best ideas. Companies should also be wary of shutting down the source of innovation itself.

Frazer concludes that companies should: “Allow more people to be involved in that decision process down the line, so they don’t feel like senior executives are turning ideas down.”


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