7 June 12
Equation helps small businesses chase big ideas
- Small businesses are generating more ideas than ever but a low hit rate is stifling true innovation
- Academic works with Orange to create world’s first equation which outlines how top firms create consistently useful business ideas
London, UK – 7 June 2012 – Britain’s small firms are generating record numbers of business ideas (e.g. for new products or services) but a low hit rate is stunting true innovation. This new finding comes from a Henley Business School research project1, commissioned by Orange.
According to the innovation study, three quarters of small enterprises (75%) are generating more business ideas2 now, compared to five years ago but over half of these ideas (52%) aren’t practical and can’t be implemented. To help small businesses generate more useful ideas Professor Dominic Swords from Henley Business School has developed the world’s first equation outlining how firms create consistently great business ideas.
The formula - the result of interviews with innovation leaders like 3M, Diageo and Bupa and an analysis of 2,000 British businesses - identifies experience, engagement, energy and diversity as the elements needed to generate useful ideas in a group environment (e.g. a brainstorm).
The formula was developed after it was found that small businesses are struggling to create implementable ideas. Trying to implement these impractical ideas is leading firms up blind alleys, wasting time and impacting innovation. Business ideas are vital as they lead to innovation and innovation leads to competitive advantage.
The ideas generation equation:
IG = 3ED
IG = rate of Ideas Generation
3E = Experience + Engagement + Energy
D = Diversity
Calculating the equation:
1. Experience - ensure those in the room have the right amount of accumulated experience in the subject matter.
2. Engagement - make sure participants understand the brief and are focused on the task.
3. Energy - raise energy levels by hosting the session off-site or incentivising employees.
4. Diversity - involve people who have experience in different markets and technologies (the level of diversity in the room is crucial as it acts as a multiplier, increasing the quality of ideas created).
To help small businesses implement the formula in their day-to-day operations, Professor Swords has turned it into a seven-step plan to run the optimal ideas generation session. This easy to follow plan gives techniques on picking the best participants, identifying the optimum ideas and then implementing them. The plan also highlights innovation examples from world leading firms such as inviting external guests to give first-hand insights; asking participants to pretend to be the target audience when giving feedback; using separate rooms to test ideas; and eliminating negative comments by giving yellow cards to participants who say “no, but”. To download the free guide, please visit: www.orange.co.uk/innovation.
Professor Dominic Swords from Henley Business School, said: “The encouraging news from this research is that British businesses are generating more ideas now than five years ago. However, many of these ideas simply can’t be implemented because they weren’t conceived in the right way. That’s a missed opportunity as it’s wasting valuable time and stifling innovation. But it doesn’t have to be this way. As some of the leading innovators have told us - from both large and small firms - putting a simple 60-minute process in place to generate ideas can have a positive impact on growth.”
“We work with thousands of small businesses, supporting them in their quest for game changing ideas,” said Martin Stiven, Vice President of Business, Orange. “We’ve seen first-hand how British businesses are focusing on driving growth by creating great ideas. Clearly these ideas don’t happen by accident yet they can be encouraged to happen. If you manage the ideas generation process well and learn as a team, the effect can be transformational.
“Innovation is central to Orange’s core values. Our own ideas generation method features a range of techniques such as using social media networks like Yammer to share ideas with each other. As this research shows, the key is developing a culture of innovation so everyone in the business is constantly creating useful ideas that move the business forward.”
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About Orange UK Orange is the key brand of the France Telecom Group, one of the world's leading telecommunications operators. With almost 131 million customers, the Orange brand now covers Internet, television and mobile services in the majority of countries where the Group operates.
In the UK, Orange provides high quality GSM coverage to 99% of the UK population, and 3G coverage to more than 93%.
Orange and any other Orange product or service names included in this material are trade marks of Orange Brand Services Limited.
On July 1 2010, the company became part of Everything Everywhere, one company that runs two of Britain's most famous brands - Orange UK and T-Mobile UK - with plans to transform the industry by giving customers instant access to everything, everywhere, offering them the best value, best choice and best network coverage in the country. Everything Everywhere Limited is the UK’s biggest communications company, with a combined customer base of almost 28 million people and more than 720 retail stores across the country. Everything Everywhere Limited is registered at Hatfield Business Park, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, AL10 9BW under the registered company number 02382161.
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Orange Press Office 0870 373 1500, or visit: www.orange.co.uk/newsroom
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1. The research project was led by Professor Dominic Swords, Henley Business School. It consisted of:
a. Over 15 in-depth interviews with some of the world’s most innovative firms, of all sizes, including:
i. 3M, technology firm
ii. Diageo, alcoholic drinks maker
iii. Bupa, healthcare organisation
iv. Orange, telecoms provider v. William Grant Distillers, makers of Hendricks Gin
vi. Fabulous Feasts, events catering company owned by Jamie Oliver vii. M&C Saatchi, global marketing communications company
viii. Progressive Sports Technologies, sports design and research consultancy
ix. Unruly Media, social video advertising firm
x. Babygro, design, manufacture and distribution of children’s wear
b. A survey of 2,012 senior business decision makers (1,000 from small businesses) between 3 - 17 May 2012
c. A metadata research study
2. The research identified seven applications for “business ideas”:
a. New products or services
b. Identifying new business opportunities / prospects / customers
c. identifying new export markets
d. Improving existing products or services
e. Finding cost savings
f. Boosting productivity
g. Improving customer loyalty
Press release: Business
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