What do we mean?
Engineering Innovation is a deliberately ambiguous title. Does it mean that Innovation can be engineered or is it highlighting Innovation for Engineers? The answer is actually yes to both.
For a long time I have been promoting a system that can measure Innovation potential. The aim is to help develop an Innovation blueprint for organisations in any sector. Now it is time to focus on engineering and manufacturing. In the current economic climate there are organisations that will sadly fail. There are organisations that are doing well both in terms of Innovation and long term sustainability. For a good example based here in the UK take a look at Gripple Limited, a Sheffield based company. It is both innovative in its leadership, products, structure and the adoption of shared ownership.
Many businesses would like to copy Gripple but cannot, why? The reason is simple. We can copy buildings, products and manuals but we cannot copy what is inside the heads of employees. Truly innovative companies share certain traits but the sharing of knowledge, the creation of ideas and the frameworks that help to make up company culture are different.
Can Innovation be engineered?
For this very reason I have created Engineering Innovation in order to help businesses in the Engineering and Manufacturing sectors to work in ways similar to Gripple. The aim is to create businesses that are truly innovative and sustainable using concepts that are reasonably familiar to to those who work in these sectors. The programme is based on three principles – Understand, Model and Build. The first principle provides a framework for understanding the innovation process, what is possible, becoming used to living with ambiguity and defining the scope and resources for the journey. The second builds a model that shows where a business is in terms of its ability to innovate, identifying what it is good at, the quick wins needed to help generate buy in, and where scarce resources are best targeted. Finally we build the organisation that will create new products, services and processes based upon the work done so far. Note we do not destroy, merely transform and enhance to produce ‘total innovation’ that pervades every part of the organisation.
Why is this approach unique? For an in depth answer please get in touch. But in a nutshell, Innovation is a strategy based on humans, their behaviour and the way they communicate and interact and is very little to do with shiny gizmos and gadgets. It can be defined in terms of outputs with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) but is much better modelled using drivers for human behaviour such as those that promote, creativity, good leadership etc. This is what I have done and this soft engineering approach appears to be unique. Does it work? Yes!