Evan Davis on Business Perspectives 1

Listen to Evan Davis’ views on who can benefit from attending the Business Perspectives events, and what he enjoys about collaborating with the Open University Business School.

The next Business Perspectives event focuses on ‘Leadership in Tough Times: Confronting Complexity and Inspiring Hope’ and takes place on 25 April at the Hotel Russell, London. Visit our website to book your place, and hear speakers from the Financial Times, Prison Service Northern Ireland, Hay Group, London Borough of Lewisham and National Council for Voluntary Organisations, who will be sharing their insights and expertise, alongside our academics.

We look forward to seeing you in London!

Business Perspectives event: Strategy Masterclass 1

Competitive strategies for business growth: process, practice and performance

Thursday, 7 February 2013. Marriott Victoria and Albert Hotel, Manchester

chess, strategyDrawing on the success of the first Innovation Masterclass last quarter, we are pleased to announce the second of our Business Perspectives events. In this, we will consider how, in an environment of austerity and reduced consumer confidence, managers and leaders can configure and implement a competitive strategy to deliver sustainable growth, enhanced performance and increased profit.

The masterclass will focus on the process and practice of strategy-making and will hear from strategy creators who run their own companies, as well as external consultants and managers who sit at senior and middle-management levels. We will explore what works for each and where the challenges exist, which strategies add most value, which make most sense and, most importantly, which are implementable.

Professor of Strategy and International Management, Thomas Lawton, will lead the masterclass and he will be joined throughout the day by key business leaders and Business School academics. The complementary but separate evening event will be hosted by the Dean of the Business School, Professor Rebecca Taylor, and we will hear Evan Davis, BBC editor, presenter and OUBS Visiting Professor, speak to “Do British companies need a more dynamic, strategic approach to prevent them lagging behind in the global economy?” alongside our keynote speaker.

We really hope that you will be able to join us at this exciting event. Further details can be found on our website together with full details of costs and Alumni Early Bird discounts.

We would also like to hear your perspective on strategy and how it is implemented within your own organisation prior to the event.

Please get in touch by filling in the details below if you are interested in submitting a blog:

Ten things businesses should know about what innovation is and isn’t 1

Guest blogger:

Sarah_PlattsSarah Platts, Open University Business School MBA Alumnus, Change Consultant at FreshNetworks

innovationInnovation is a common topic of debate and strategy in most businesses (be they new or well established). In the current economic climate, and with the huge potential of the likes of social media data, brands are increasingly looking at innovation (large and small) as a way to beat the competition.

But innovation is often misunderstood. After a recent event debating the topic at the Open University Business School, I left with some insights into what the attendees thought that innovation was, and some misconceptions about what it has to be:

Five things that innovation is

  1. Inextricably linked with growth, according to the BBC’s Evan Davis. He surmised that innovation hasn’t come to a standstill in 2012, although we do have a growth problem which innovation itself will be crucial to solving.
  2. Delicate. It’s important to nurture it gently so as not to kill it off too quickly, but also carefully contain and manage it to prevent any huge financial, market, or reputational fires.
  3. More prevalent during recessions. The atmosphere of fear engendered by recession is often the trigger required to force organisations to adapt and survive (as opposed to ending up at the decline end of the sigmoid curve, such as Kodak), as well as being ideal for start-ups. Recessions tend to shake out the worst performers, and those simply coasting along with the status quo.
  4. Often within your team already. Any business is likely to have great ideas and innovators already within the team. An open and creative organisational culture and office space is crucial to finding, developing, and encouraging these employees, who will always move to another company (possibly a competitor) to innovate if they can’t do so where they are.
  5. Often the victim of resistance and sabotage. Some tactics to look out for and actively surface and manage include Peter Keen’s “lay low”, and “keep the project complex, hard to coordinate, and vaguely defined”. Plus also the wonderfully expressed “Say yes! But do nothing”.

Five things that innovation doesn’t have to be

  1. Big or complex. Sometimes the best innovation can come through a series of incremental steps which ultimately amount to something quite large, impactful and radical. Such gradual change can often be more palatable in businesses.
  2. Hugely expensive or driven forward by companies. As demonstrated by the user-led innovations of the maker movement, and also Jugaad Innovation’s more flexible, frugal, and bottom-up approach.
  3. A risky business. At least not to the innovators – who have complete faith in their idea. It’s the financial backers who are taking the risks. However, if we’re taking an incremental approach, perhaps that can help reduce the overall risk by breaking innovation up into more manageable and less intimidating or costly chunks.
  4. A driver to cut costs. As it’s enabling many companies to retain their current cost bases but stretch those resources further into more countries and ventures.
  5. About technology. Thinking and process innovations show it’s not just about technology (e.g. queuing), and service innovations prove it’s not only about products either. Nevertheless, technology is certainly vital, and SAP UK’s CTO Adrian Simpson explored how innovation is being shaped by greater mobility (e.g. increase in mobile devices), social media and networks, the cloud, and huge data sets (including social data).

Ultimately, innovation seems to depend on persistence, belief, adaptability, and relevance to customers and the market. While its success relies on people, behaviour and skills, and spotting and pursuing the opportunity before it’s too late. Undoubtedly money and resources help, but perhaps more of a barrier exists in the minds of employees and cultures of organisations?

(This article was originally published on FreshNetworks on 20th Dec 2012.)

First event hailed a big success 17

Business Perspectives event

Evan Davis shares his perspectives on innovation

Did you miss the inaugural Business Perspectives event at the Cumberland Hotel in London last week? Do not despair as we intend to bring highlights and insights from the day at a webinar on 4th December. Full details of the webinar and how to sign up will be posted here shortly.

The event itself was attended by over 100 practising managers, industry leaders and business academics, and provided a thriving hub of perspectives on innovation, both in the room and on Twitter (#ou_bp).

During the evening session our Visiting Professor and BBC Economics Editor Evan Davis was joined by Ken Keir, Executive Vice President, Honda Motor Europe, whilst Professor James Fleck then joined them both for a lively question and answer session.

The daytime masterclass considered the organisational structures, strategies and cultures needed to cultivate and support innovation, with insights and perspectives from Adrian Simpson (SAP), Win Dhat (Kates Kesler), David Harrison (True Potential), Dr Leslie Budd (OUBS), Imran Razzaq (Microsoft) and Professor James Fleck.

Were you there? How about sharing your perspective of the event on our blog site?

– Shasha Wang, Digital Development Manager, OUBS

Engineering the future Reply

Why large scale infrastructure should not be too technologically innovative.

Evan Davis explains the reasons and shares  his views of the challenges to refreshing the UK infrastructure, reflecting on his research for Built in Britain, an OU/BBC co-production.

Evan Davis interview

To learn more about Built in Britain series and explore What Makes Britain? timeline, visit OpenLearn website.