Change and innovation are notoriously difficult to implement, so water, waste and utilities industry innovation centre WRc asked participants at its third annual Innovation Day on 29th April 2015 to discuss how in a relaxed mock café setting.

Change and innovation are notoriously difficult to implement, so the water, waste and gas innovation consultancy WRc asked participants at its fourth annual Innovation Day on 29th April 2015 to discuss 'how' in a relaxed mock café setting.

Prompted by ‘food’ for thought and attentive waiters, more than 150 ‘diners’ debated questions on innovation round their tables, leaving tips on their plates. To see their inspirational plates, click here.

Tips for innovation on a plate at WRc's innovation cafe discussion

The two questions debated in our innovation café were: Where is innovation most needed to transform our industries? and How do we embed innovation more effectively?

Culture - risk - freedom
Diners decided that there were three keys to embedding innovation more effectively: Having the right culture in the business, taking risks and having freedom to change.

In discussing where innovation was most needed to transform UK utilities, ‘diners’ agreed that there is a clear need for change within organisations to move from a constrained, risk-averse philosophy to an open, collaborative, sharing one.

Innovation cafe diners said:

  • Regulation needs to take a more innovative approach, whether to reduce the impact of short regulatory cycles or to find ways of providing better funding and rewards for innovation actions.
  • Customer engagement requires the use of innovative communications and methodologies to create greater recognition of the value of service and investing in innovation, as well as meeting the challenges of competition.
  • Data, Data, Data! There was a clear recognition of the criticality of having reliable information to support decisions, whether for operational or strategic purposes. Businesses also need to tap the substantial potential to get better data and make better use of it through new generation communication and data analysis. Networks could move from dumb to smart and from post-event to real-time control.
  • Ageing infrastructure needs innovative solutions to extend life and be replaced.

WRc will develop some of these needs and look to solution delivery, building on the work we are already doing in gamification, smart networks, asset condition assessment and refurbishment, data analytics and technology evaluation and implementation.

My challenge to you is to take some of these tips and apply them to how you as an individual work and seek to support change within your organisation.

For more information or to make further suggestions, please email: ian.walker@wrcplc.co.uk