Last Tuesday (21st May) I attended a fascinating Innovation Workshop, organised by our lovely client Encompass, who aim to stimulate growth through innovation amongst small to medium sized businesses in Scotland. This article looks at some of the key points reverberating throughout the session and how we put these into practice.

The workshop brought together organisations from a range of creative, media, commercial and public sector backgrounds to discuss how they can best position their businesses to optimise on innovation and funding opportunities.

Hosted by Marion Anderson, Project Manager at Encompass, the event took place in the stunning Lighthouse building on Mitchell Lane, Glasgow, and featured some interesting presentations from Brian Williamson, Managing Director at Jumpstart and Greig Sinclair of Business Gateway Glasgow.

Reassuringly, the session reinforced the practice and ethos of After Digital, centring on the concept outlined by Theodore Levitt that; “Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.”

As well as receiving plenty practical advice on how to access support and funding to back innovation, the top tips I took away from the session included:

  • Remove constraints – breaking down boundaries and ‘rules’ to allow for creativity is key. Make sure everyone at every level can input without feeling like they will be judged.
  • Provide space and time to allow for creative thinking and innovation to occur.
  • Remove all consequence – both negative and positive consequences or incentives produce barriers for either the individual or the rest of the team.
  • Better utilise the attributes of your team as a whole – no one person is an expert on everything, and smart leaders employ even smarter people.
  • Promote expansive thinking – notice as much as you can and look out with the areas you normally focus on. It’s important to learn from different perspectives and be as aware as possible.
  • Believing is essential – if you don’t believe you can achieve something then you won’t.
  • Try and ascertain the negatives (in processes, services, your offering, etc) and transpose these into positives, i.e. ask yourself what constitutes a terrible sales response or customer service experience and ensure you avoid these things. Analyse the things that you could be doing better.
  • Be open to learning from others – imitation is, after all, the greatest form of flattery, and you can always learn from others’ experiences and successes.

To put these into a practical context, the team at After Digital aim to achieve innovation through the above principles by providing open spaces and setting aside an afternoon every month for the entire agency to brainstorm and conceptualise potential ideas for the agency and clients. Resources are invested into the internal review and analysis of processes and agency needs, with our Head of Digital Innovation (as well as the rest of the team) constantly feeding in new ideas and developing internal products to support more efficient day-to-day working. In addition, we run innovation sessions with clients to scope out potential opportunities and enhance the commercial success of our solutions.

One of the core drivers of success in innovation, we believe, lies in collaboration – looking to others and partnering up to strengthen your skill base and widen your perspective. This is something that is being seen more and more, for example the Arts Council England have recently invested in the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts and our London client NCUB’s business is based on promoting economic well-being through the matching of universities and businesses across the UK.

Make sure you create room for innovation in your organisation by promoting open communication and ensuring employees across all levels of the business feel involved and comfortable voicing their opinion without fear of judgement or backlash.