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Innovation Champion

 

Martin

Martin

I love this job.

Yes, that’s right.

I said it.

However not a lot of people actually know what I and my colleague, Izzy, do or what innovation means in our business.

You see, our company makes and sells DVD’s in a world where more people every year are choosing to go digital.  This makes our shrinking industry highly competitive.  It is only by creating new ways to present products our customers love and finding efficient or better ways to do things within our company that keep us at the forefront of that industry and in business.

As innovation champions, Izzy and I are tasked with encouraging a culture where all staff members feel comfortable to be creative with new ideas and solutions; an environment where we all persist in improving the ways we work.  This has a bigger impact to than you may realise.  Over the last 4 years, our UK Home Entertainment innovation programme have had a cumulative impact of millions in money earned or saved.

 

So how have we been doing this?  We take a couple different approaches:

  1. Inspire people in their work
  2. Give people the room and comfort to try something new
  3. Take a specific problem and bring people together to solve it

This has led to us doing all sorts of things from learning how to take notes using drawings, to story boarding problems, to standing on Oxford street photographing clothes, to meeting with the Senior Management Team to present on how we’re driving new ways of doing things.

In fact, here’s a few examples of what we do.

Inspiration

To inspire people we now encourage employees to avoid the desk trap, where there is a limited source of inspiration to get new ideas or solve problems.  We allow the time to get out of the office to spend how they see fit to address an issue.  For example, Universal wanted to find better ways to display DVD’s in retailer, so Izzy took a team of people down Oxford Street’s big shops to see how other kinds of products were being displayed.  After a few hours of observing and lots of photographs, we’re now exploring ideas to install back lit products.

Similarly, with the Inspire Me talks we have asked interesting speakers to talk about a variety of subjects to stimulate new ideas in our teams.  This includes the new digital platform AwesomenessTV, futurologists discussing how technology will change our world and talks from our talent finding teams on fostering relationships with the famous and influential.

Tools & Time

To give the tools and time to help our employees generate new earning initiatives, the innovation team were able to have the whole division of 80 employees trained on a brainstorming and product innovation approach called “Design Thinking”.  “Project 5” was then launched and the whole company split into teams to generate brand new ideas and carry products and changes to the way we work.

Pulling together

Where there’s a problem that needs a lot of great minds to solve it, we gather as many different people from a variety of back grounds from our company as possible to give a wide perspective.  The team then discusses what the issue is and generates ideas and solutions.  We’ve used this to save 100’s of hours of work time in the company over the last 5 years and make people’s work life smoother and easier.

Not a Normal Day

When it comes down to it, there isn’t a set task list or a formula to this role at Universal.  Izzy and I can find ourselves planning a training session on how to sketch, to emailing CEOs to ask them to speak to our employees, or sitting with the various project teams to hear about how they’re saving time and effort across the business.  It’s dynamic, inspirational and fun.

So.

Like I said.

I love this job.