Burning Issue

Samantha Lee (pictured)
Managing director
Publicity Seekers 

Stifling creativity and innovation can never be a good thing. At Publicity Seekers, staff get four hours a week in which to pursue other projects which are not related to their day-to-day work.

They create their own mini businesses, which not only gives them an insight into the world of running a business but also allows them to see things from the perspective of the client. In addition, we have some really cool projects that we are about to launch in early 2017 which are fun to work on and potentially great business ideas.

James Ramsbotham 
Chief executive 
North East England Chamber of Commerce 

My advice for any business which wants to encourage innovation is to create a culture where quick thinking, courage and tolerance of mistakes is the norm.

People have innovation in them if they are in an environment in which they feel they can try. No-one is likely to think creatively when they believe they will be criticised for suggesting a new idea or an alternative way of doing things.

I strongly believe that anyone who has never made a mistake has never done anything.

Andrew Metcalfe 
Managing director 
Opal IT 

The key is to encourage staff to come forward with ideas on how to improve the business, either through regular team meetings or informal get-togethers outside of the work environment. Sometimes the most creative ideas are born when people are away from their PCs (or Macs in our case!).

We’ve an open-plan office with great lighting and useable space for people to openly communicate across different departments within the business. It’s important not to allow a fear culture to develop; this will force the less dominant personalities to shy away from speaking up and that’s going to dampen innovation, not create it.

Stan Higgins 
Chief executive 
NEPIC 

In order for businesses to prosper, innovation – be it product, service or process – should always be encouraged, however, sadly this often isn’t the case. Despite many agreeing with the sentiment, most don’t know where to begin. Many are frightened of failure – yet we should applaud and embrace what we have learnt along the way. I believe that more often than not, innovative thinking comes from encouraging employees, within limits, to do things their way and giving them the time and resources to develop their ideas and demonstrate the potential advantages. As Thomas Edison famously said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

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