Innovation: letting it flow

11 January 2012

Rebecca Ellinor, managing editor, Supply ManagementWhat better time than a new year 
to consider fresh ways of doing things? This issue we examine innovation: how to generate low-cost, high-tech ideas, examples of procurement innovation in practice and creative thinking. In the latter piece, senior purchaser Jamie Napper says getting away from your usual environment can help prompt people to find new approaches. While some might scoff at the idea of a productive meeting down the pub, recent research finds otherwise. According to a survey of 2,000 workers by IT services firm 2e2, around half (47 per cent) say the best discussions about business ideas come when people get together in a pub or restaurant, with many saying they felt constrained by the traditional work environment. Another approach is to alter your office. Google recently spent a chunk of money decking out a floor of its London nerve centre. New fixtures and fittings apparently include a recording studio, an indoor park with a rowing boat and a free restaurant. At the launch party, vice-president for product and engineering Nelson Mattos is reported to have said: “We don’t see these perks as distractions. They’re a fundamental part of the innovation process here.” Plus, the nicer the facilities, the longer staff are likely to spend in them. In an interview aired on the BBC last month, co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak said companies like his could not emerge in countries with formal cultures like Singapore. Allowing creativity in the early days of the firm was far more important than how you dressed or the length of your hair. So try to make 2012 the year of ideas and accept you might have to change some things to find them. Also in this issue, SM launches the ‘profession of choice campaign’. In support of CIPS president David Smith’s call for senior buyers to help make procurement an attractive job path to young and older people alike, we will run a series of articles to help you do this and showcase your efforts to raise the profile of the profession.

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