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Terrible Idea. NHS closes its £50m Innovation fund after only a month

If there is an organisation that should be innovating it’s the NHS! Yet, they have just closed their £50m Innovation Fund after just 1 month saying that [Innovating and improving] is “outside its core business and it can no longer afford to run it because of “unplanned expenditure”.

How can an organisation like the NHS NOT see innovating and improving as their core business?

Brilliant Idea. Mobile Foundry

This is brilliant. It’s a mobile foundry that can be built from components readily available in the developing world which allows waste aluminum cans to be recycled into useful objects. Other than fire (which is fueled by scrap wood and paper and recycled cooking oil), the only energy requirement is for a hairdryer to boost the heat of the furnace. This innovation offers an opportunity for the street collectors to ‘create’ value by up-cycling the waste into new products rather than simply sell the collected aluminum cans to the large recycling plants for a pittance.

Really worth a watch, but the whole story is available here,!/13754/can-city-the-mobile-foundry/

Toyota USA engages the crowd to select charities to receive a new car

Toyota USA are giving away two cars a day to deserving charities. The Crowd decide who based on facebook Likes.


The more cynical amongst us would suggest this is a clever PR stunt to engage people via social media. I’m inclined to believe that Toyota are recognizing that they need to find a way of engaging with their consumers in a more meaningful and collaborative way.

More information here

So worth a watch!

It doesn’t really relate to ideas and innovation, but it certainly is BRILLIANT.

So worth a watch, but in case you don’t have time, here are his 9 tips for a happy and successful life;

1. Don’t have a dream

2. Don’t seek happiness (focus on making someone else happy)

3. It’s all luck

4. Exercise

5. Be hard on your opinions

6. Be a teacher

7. Define yourself by what you love

8. respect people with less power than you

9. Don’t rush


Constraints can breed creativity

“When forced to work within a strict framework the imagination is taxed to its utmost – and will produce its richest ideas. Given total freedom the work is likely to sprawl.” – T.S. Eliot

Creativity and constraint are, at first glance, opposites, however there is a lot of truth in the fact that the tighter the brief – the more constrained you are, the more creative we can be.

One of the best examples of this is the photosharing service Instagram. For those that are not familiar with it, it’s one of those internet phenomenons where it’s easy to say “so what” because it’s simply a mobile app that has a bunch of filters and tools that you can apply to photos that you take with your mobile. That’s it (btw. facebook bought Instagram for a reported $500m earlier this year).

Here’s an example. On the left is a photo from my iphone, (my Son’s shirt, not mine!) and the same photo through the Instagram app.


It still isn’t the best photo in the World, but that’s not the point, the point is that although there would have been an infinite number of ways of improving the photo that I took with my iphone, I have neither the patience, talent or tools, so for me restricting the choice from infinite to 16 filters offers me the opportunity improve the photo immeasurably. (if you are interested, here’s a link to some truly amazing Instagram photos)

We can apply this to ideation. If the challenge is too broad it can actually inhibit creativity. The best challenges (a challenge being a call to action) give boundaries, purpose and a framework.

An example I often use in ideation workshops compares a challenge to;

a) create a new ready-meal (ie. the World’s your oyster) OR

b) create a new meal that that offers the consumer the convenience of a ready-meal, BUT differentiates itself from the other choices on the shelf by being fresh and devoid of preservatives and additives. All of a sudden the World of opportunities has narrowed significantly, but there is a really clear objective to work with

Measuring Innovation

You could write a book about measuring innovation (I wish I had time) because it is such a large subject. This blog doesn’t aim to be a complete guide to measuring innovation, more an opportunity to share some work I did around this subject a few weeks ago with a new client who is setting-up their key measures. I hope it is of use to others, but as always, any questions, contact me.

As is always the case with measuring activity and processes a few critical measures against broad range of activities is better than tonnes of measures.

I split them into three categories; engagement, process and outcomes

Engagement Measures (this assumes you are using a software platform like TalkFreely (

1. > 75% of registered users login and participate. Evidence that staff are interested in participating

2. > 50% or more of registered users voluntarily rate idea. Evidence that Staff see value in helping qualify ideas by rating

3. >20% or more of provide comments. Evidence that Staff value in helping shape ideas and sharing knowledge and insights by adding comments

4. >10% or more of registered users enter an idea. Evidence that Staff see value in offering ideas to meet challenges

5. >75% of departments have launched at least 1 challenge within the first year. Evidence that Department heads see the value in actively engaging their staff in idea sharing and innovation (this one is crucial)

Process Measures

1. >2 ideas per quarter accepted and pursued to next stage per challenge. Evidence that there are enough quality within ideas to make setting challenges worthwhile

2. No ideas in the Live and Evaluation stage remain in those status’ for more than 30 days. Evidence that the Challenge sponsors provide the resource to manage the innovation process (that ideas don’t sit in the process without being dealt with). This is another crucial one. The best way to kill ideas is to allow the staff to feel it’s a waste of time because ideas aren’t ever implemented

3. The value of costed ideas (ideas that have been evaluated and have a record of ROI) in the innovation process grows by >10% per month. Evidence that you are able to manage a growing innovation portfolio

4. The NET value of the innovation portfolio is x times the cost of the Innovation Network. Evidence that there is a growing ROI for the innovation efforts

Outcome Measures

1. Staff engagement measures (most large organisations measure engagement) has improved. Evidence that the innovation effort have improved how people feel

2. Revenue from new products increased. Evidence that ideas for new products have been implemented resulting in increased revenue

3. Operational expenditure has reduced. Evidence that ideas that can reduce costs and save money can be found