What is innovation in business?

By Nov.13, 2011

What can we lean about Innovation from Spectrum Plastics, www.n0tice.com, Salford Lads’ Club and the Working Class Movement Library? At the Innovation through Heritage event held at the University of Salford on Friday 11th November, these four organisations shared their experiences. One key lesson learned for me was that:

“Whether your organisation is a business or a ‘not for profit’ organisation, you have to continuously innovate in order to keep your organisation’s mission relevant to your prospects, audiences or visitors and your organisational heritage could be of great help in doing so!”

The Innovation through Heritage event itself adopted an innovative approach in inviting an eclectic mix of academics, researchers, voluntary organisations and businesses from disciplines including University of Salford’s Leisure, Heritage & Recreation Research Group, International www.enterpriseculturalheritage.org project, ISOS research centre and the UK Academy for Information Systems (UKAIS).

The event began with lunch and networking, which were sponsored by the www.enterpriseculturalheritage.org project and this was followed by eight Pecha Kucha presentations:

  • Neil Robinson – Salford Business School, University of Salford – Armistice Day: Somme, sea and sand; From Middle Earth to Salford and back again.
  • Antonio Benitez – School of Art and Design, University of Salford – The impact of an ageing population in museum audiences.
  • Stephanie Huede – Charme Graphic Design – Image and Idylle
  • Anna Catalani – School of Art and Design, University of Salford – The Yorùbá Diaspora and Museum Collections.
  • Mike Nevell – School of The Built Environment, University of Salford – Community Archaeology: Assessing Significance and Impact.
  • Carolyn Downs – Salford Business School, University of Salford – Exploiting Cultural Heritage: Mecca vs The Government
  • Jon Monk – Business Group Salford – Doing Business in Salford
  • Aleksej Heinze – Salford Business School, University of Salford – Enterprise Cultural Heritage: What is it?

The Pecha Kucha presentations highlighted the diverse ways in which both tangible and intangible heritage elements impact on our society, and offered ways in which we can use heritage to innovate by understanding our past.

The question of “Cultural Heritage – How can it open new opportunities?” was explored by Kath Doran – Managing Director of Spectrum Plastics.

T Haynes Chorley & Co. Ltd., now trading as Spectrum Plastics, is a business that has been around since 1922. Kath talked about the way that the original idea of printing on paper has evolved to laser printing on special plastic to allow them to stay current and yet maintain their heritage of printing. The printing services offered now are available on most substrates including: PVC, metal, glass, acrylics, self-adhesive vinyl, self-cling, wood – some of these materials were not around when the original printing was developed.

Learning through experience and the wealth of knowledge that has been passed down the generations has allowed Spectrum Plastic to maintain its competitive business position in printing. Kath said that one of the most important assets that the company was particularly proud of was its staff and the way that this core value remained. Because of the strong sense of belonging to the business staff take pride in their jobs.

In one example, Kath illustrated the sense of staff loyalty to the business through their suggestion to move to a four-day working week to minimise the impact of the recession. Despite the fact that the business did not have any need to do so, staff saw the reduction in printing orders and offered to reduce the working week to help the business. In another example, Kath referred to the extensive archives of all printing that was done over the years and the creative inspiration this offers to Spectrum Plastics – an exercise she felt was in itself inspired by the enterprise cultural heritage training material.

Innovation through Tools and Technology – Satisfying local needs online

Sarah Hartley talked about the community engagement project, about.n0tice.com, which re-examines the idea of local news and information in the context of a SoLoMo (social-local-mobile) to create a digital community noticeboard. No stranger to information technology, Sarah blogs about journalism, social media, local news and online communities and is a regular writer on The Guardian’s Northerner blog www.guardian.co.uk/uk/the-northerner

Sarah discussed the increasing trend for Glocalisation – where individuals share a common interest and think globally but act locally by developing online communities. The idea itself has been around for a while – local noticeboard existed and could be said to belong to the intangible heritage of communities. Now information technology enables this idea to be made more interactive and with the addition of Social Media based principles – where everyone can share and comment on everything – this technology is enabling as well as facilitating dialogue and hence changes in the community.

We could not let N0tice.com go unnoticed for our event and it was great to see the live blogging functionality from the Innovation through Heritage event which was skilfully done by Sarah Hartley and Nigel Barlow and had another user by the end of the session – Erin Maochu. First impressions – almost as easy as twitter for posting and writing updates, good mobile interface – but you need to be signed in, in order to be able to read notices and updates from others. For the Desktop version, images as nice as they are do tend to take a long time to load, so going to the ‘mobile version’ makes waiting a bit less frustrating…

Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before

Steven Flower and Leslie Holmes talked about how Salford Lads’ Club utilised a chance connection with the 1980’s band The Smiths – to help preserve and continue it’s 100 year legacy of providing services to young people.

Established in 1903 Salford Lads Club has had to re-invent itself from the first time it offered a camp to its members in 1904 to continue to “Brighten Young Lives and Make Good Citizens” (its moto) using Social Media Surgeries, Digital library of fans on Flickr,  Heritage Projects including Swedish Drill, Film Shoots and Location, Gigs and Concerts and a Boxing Gym amongst other ways to stay relevant to the community’s needs.

The club set an ambitious aim to realise a £1,000,000 Appeal! Salford Lads have already raised over £730,000 towards this target (July 2011). Visit their website to help Salford Lads Club reach their target.

The fourth and final speaker of the Innovation through Heritage event was Lynette Cawthra, who looked at the question of “Struggling To Get Your Voice Heard?”

Lynette has focused on maintaining quality in an age of quantity since she was appointed a Manager at the Working Class Movement Library in 2006 with a remit to ‘explore, develop, and implement methods of presenting the resources of the Library in new, more exciting and accessible ways’.

At a time of public expectation of ever-present access to digital information and yet also of severe funding cuts, Lynette is faced with the challenge of how to manage these two conflicting themes; one of the ways that technology is going to help in facilitating this is the digital archive offered by the University of Salford.

Online donations are also welcomed by the Working Class Movement Library

How can we help you to develop innovation in your business?

The four speakers demonstrated how intangible heritage, in the case of Spectrum Plastic and n0tice.com as well as tangible heritage such as building of Salford Lads Club and Working Class Movement Library can be used as a source of innovation.

As part of the MNEMOS project, our international team have developed free management training material for anyone who is interested in understanding how he or she could use Heritage  – by integrating it into Brand Management, Change Management, Heritage Management and Intellectual Property Rights Management training – please help us to develop this further by completing this survey and join our LinkedIn open Community!

Have you attended the Innovation Through Heritage event and would like to add to this your views? Please leave your comments below!

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One thought on “What is innovation in business?

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