I met the Deputy CEO of Innovation Manchester for a natter today, to talk about Innovation and how big companies have approached Innovation during the recession.  It was a really interesting chat, below is a quick bullet pointed summary of what my views were (in no particular order).

  • Innovation paradoxically suffers during recessions.  At a time when it’s needed most, it’s done least.
  • Many companies prefer to stick to their knitting during recessions.  Not wanting to rock the boat or try things new.
  • If a company is in the depth of a financial crisis, innovation may be an unnecessary distraction, particularly if you are close to the brink.
  • Innovation is more than a flipchart and post-it notes, that’s the creative part.  Innovation is when you implement those ideas.
  • Unless driven from the top, Innovation can be difficult culturally.
  • Innovation in many businesses is driven by a specific business problem, rather than done as a matter of routine.

They are broadly some of the opinions that I shared (amongst others).  The point is, it isn’t that easy.  It comes naturally to some businesses and harder to others.  Culture dictates a lot of it.  If ideas are squashed or ridiculed, people simply won’t contribute them and deselect from the process.

One thing I learned today which I thought was simply fantastic today was about this, it’s called the FAB LAB.   An inventors workshop, where prototypes can be built.  It’s kitted out with all the latest stuff for you to turn up and build something and it’s free to use.  Whether an individual, a school or a collective, you can get into this place and build your prototype at very low cost.  I think that is a very simple, yet highly effective service and a great example of how innovation can be turned from a bright idea, into a product.   Come on Manchester inventors, get using it!