In Smart Company

That’s the name for our new Innovation and Business Transformation Service. We’ve been delivering it for almost eighteen months across Yorkshire and the West Midlands, and the response has been amazing (Have a look at the People section of our website So we’ve decided to give it its own identity and roll it out – we have an extraordinary group of creative thinkers who have joined us – from dance, from theatre, from visual arts, from digital arts – performers, managers, choreographers, digital wizards and so on – almost all of whom experienced the programme and then contacted us to see if they could volunteer to train as innovation coaches. As we started to move into non-creative/traditional business sectors, we started to get the same reaction from creative thinkers in those fields too – so we now have a team of 21 coaches (the list is closed for now but let us know if you are interested for the future) and we are in the throes of telling the world about it. It is an absolute (although entirely coincidental!) fulfillment of the dictat from Brussels that the CIs can provide the stimulus for innovation in other sectors. And we have worked with companies varying from very traditional (and now revivified!) accountants through to engineers (naturally creative!) to local authorities. It’s based on the work we have done with Herman Gyr and Laszlo Gyorffy, our colleagues from Silicon Valley, but it has been translated into CIDA language and style – we take the best of everything and seem to have created a really effective and powerful programme. Have a look at the website

And we recently took part of it into Europe working with about 20 colleagues from different countries to help design a brilliant new pan-European programme we are working on with Ruhr 2010/ecce and Creative Factory Rotterdam – the plan is to facilitate the potential of creative entrepreneurs to collaborate and trade easily in different countries across Europe – some of the cities got so excited that they didn’t want to wait for us to submit a transnational bid for funding but want to pilot it themseleves now, so we are planning the pilot to go live in early 2011. Ring me if you’re interested – 01484 483143 – UK cities in Yorkshire, in the North East and in the South West are very likely to be involved already and there will be room for more later – so the planning for all this has been influenced and shaped by some of our innovation tools and we are in discussion with a couple of cities who want it for themselves.

Same with Zimbabwe the other week – fantastic response for which we are currently developing the follow up – and tomorrow I’m running a session with creative entrepreneurs here in Lagos – and with others in January in Kenya – not surprising given that The Economist ran an article a few months ago declaring that the best innovation was increasingly coming from emerging economies!

It’s probably a sign of the times – certainly, everyone in the UK is thinking about how they can transform their business or organisation to develop some resilience against the horrors that seem certain to hit us next year – and of course if you start down the path of developing a strong in-house innovation capability, then it is inevitably going to affect the way your business operates – so while the creative element of innovation is important, even more important is the capacity to translate that creativity into effective value for your customer AND sustained benefit for your own company. It’s not just about coming up with new ideas, terrific as that is – in the end, it’s really about turning the best ideas into reality that serves both your audience and you!