Innovate to succeed and collaborate to move forwards

I recently attended the Somerset in Business Conference 2012 – the theme of Innovation to succeed. It was a well attended conference with key speakers Professor John Bessant, Rupert Cox, Andrew Knutt,  Andrew Jupp, Roger Hall and Al Goodwin, Nick Ames to name a few.

I wanted to reflect on the parts that stood out for me as someone directing a small company and the people who I felt made me start to think differently about the future of New Leaf Life Design and the questions its led me to ask.

Professor John Bessant warned the audience that he may make them feel uncomfortable. He spoke about how as a business owner we have to work more closely with our customers so that they are the designers of what our business delivers. How can we make our company more user led how can we co-create with our customers? He gave the example of Lego who now have children designing through their creative imaginations. How can New Leaf become a more user led company?  He emphasised that passion gives us the head start and allows us to know what people want.

Andrew Jupp from Smith and Williamson LLP is a folk musician and accountant. He spoke about all the grants and funding sources for innovation. His presentation covered a range of government schemes and how to finance growth. You will however need a growth plan, something New Leaf is currently working on.

Andrew Knutt explored how we can look at business growth through value co-creation. He encouraged us to look at creating co-creation relationships, to share issues and solutions. New Leaf is good at co-creation and currently wants to bring more people together through the new Conscious Business network.

Lastly I enjoyed Al Goodwin – Foot Anstey he spoke about the five magic steps for collaboration namely,

  • Step 1 look in the mirror know thyself know strengths and weaknesses. Know your business.
  • Step 2 take the time to find a partner for the collaboration.
  • Step 3 what is the actual collaboration about. What is the shape, how deep do we go? What within that subject matter?
  • Step 4 think incremental or modular. Prove the concept can work.
  • Step 5 start small you will be more likely to succeed. Formalise it with a lawyer. But then he would say that!

The reasons to collaborate seemed very clear but I was also intrigued at his reasons why companies chose not to. It seems clear to me that to truly collaborate we will need to develop leadership, develop more trusting relationships, and explore commercial gains so it becomes a win win way of working. What was so positive was that he made it all seem possible.

It made me think alot more about how New Leaf could become much more client-led. How could we help support more client led communities, this means that our clients cannot only provide each other with knowledge and support – they can also enable one another to comprehend what support has been helpful? Our client testimonials already reflect some of this but I wonder how we could go further?  Such client communities, can offer a high degree of interaction between users, and reciprocal exchanges of information, have been shown to be powerful engines of innovation according Professor John Bessant.

Some great links shared:

  • a place to share ideas and offer solutions.
  • Innovation in healthcare  report written by John Bessant.
  • Library of information for young entrepreneurs
  • Advanced Institute of Management Research

I would like to add to this some links of my own. Join in our discussions about Conscious Business  also check out these guys Profit through Ethics. They are encouraging transparency within business something New Leaf wants to move forwards with. I think it is in collaboration that the nature of art is revealed. Steve Lacy


I think it is in collaboration that the nature of art is revealed. Steve Lacy


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