Innovation isn’t a function .. it’s a culture

Innovation through Creativity is one of the TEAMEDGE modules that we’ve had amazing response to, so we took it as inspiration for our latest ‘high performance’ event.

We were delighted when our clients Miele offered to host us at their Experience Centre in Abingdon, and to tell us the amazing advances they are creating like ovens which can cook a whole salmon encased in ice, without melting the ice.  Or the washing machine that can wash a rose without it losing any petals.

But the message we were all ‘ears pinned back’ on was hearing UK MD John Pickering (@Miele_GB) speak about how they create a culture of passionate brand pride, which forms the bedrock of their innovation.  The relentless pursuit of continuous improvement.  But in a focused environment where results matter.  John said ‘the opportunity for gridlock in this business is phenomenal.  We have to be agile.  We have to recruit people who deliver our values and beliefs. And put it into play every day.’    Ownership for the brand is visible everywhere.  ‘One man builds one oven.  And when he’s done, he writes his name on the back.  It’s an obsessive attention to detail’ continued John.

Our second speaker was Mark Ritchie, Head of Talent from GB Snowsport (@mjrtitch1979), who brought his perspective and story – and challenged us to think about ‘what is innovation?’  His provocation (as I heard it!) was that if we ‘middle aged suits’ seek innovation through our own agendas and biases, we’ll be missing a lot of opportunities.  Interestingly he highlighted a similar challenge to John, ‘bringing together the necessary structured processes, and innovative freedom. ‘  – ‘You evolve or die!’  he rightly said (ask Blockbuster, Kodak or Blackberry), but his assertion that ‘we focus on progress, the medals will take care of themselves’ certainly rang true with Leading Edge beliefs (‘You don’t win a match by staring at the scoreboard’)

Together, all 30 of attendess had a chance to experience those phenomenal Miele kitchen appliances ourselves as we donned aprons and aspirations to MasterChef, and with the friendly guidance of the Home Economist team, rustled up a mean chicken and mushroom risotto, and melt-in-the-middle choc puds together!

It reminded me of the analogy Kirk Vallis (Global Head of Creativity Capability Director @ Google) shared at the recent Leaders in Sport Performance Summit at Twickenham Stadium.  ‘If you want to bake a cake, the more ingredients you have in your larder, the greater scope you have to make different cakes.  Knowledge and experience are great ingredients. But you need to make new recipes.  And our role as organisations is to give people the confidence, capability and conditions to think differently.  Humans innovate, no technology.’

Thanks to our friends at Miele, and our clients and friends who attended Miele Experience Centre for an insightful afternoon  – with fab food (for thought!)