“Several years ago, I was in talks with Chevrolet on the possibility of them developing a new F1 engine for us.
At the time, Chevrolet had just bought Lotus Engineering – a decision that, quite frankly, puzzled me since Chevrolet already had an engineering technology centre employing over 4,000 engineers.
Why buy another outfit when you already have a state-of-the-art facility? It’s a question I put to a very senior manager; his answer proved to be a revealing insight into the human mindset…
The senior executive explained that the existing centre had seven levels of management, payment and reward. This over-complicated hierarchical structure actually stunted creativity. The people in this pyramid quickly worked out that the trick to progression was simple: don’t make any mistakes. If you never put your head above the parapet you would never put your career at risk.
But equally, you would never produce anything of any value – because innovation is all about experimenting with risk. Everyone was an expert at sitting on their hands – so, to solve their real engineering problems, Chevrolet had to buy Lotus Engineering – an outfit that thrived on the risk of experimentation.”
This true story sums up the problem for large companies. The larger the organisation; the bigger the problem of implementing innovation. However, as another of our ‘Clustre Innovation Club’ guest speakers went on to reveal, innovation and implementation don’t have to be arduous or complex…
Richard Poole is the Managing Partner of Fluxx – a successful innovation company that adopts start-up thinking to drive growth within established brands. He maintains that there are only three things you must put in place to become excellent at experimenting: