MaST Business Forum - Innovate to Lead with Prof Nigel MacLennan - Summary

MaST Business Forum - Innovate to Lead with Prof Nigel MacLennan - Summary

11th June 2015


The latest MaST Forum explored innovation and creativity.  Most people consider that they are not creative types.  Yet all jobs, and the survival of all companies ultimately depends on creativity and innovation.


All thriving companies have innovated.  Companies that continue to innovate continue to thrive.  At what seems to be at the other end of the scale, companies that do not innovate eventually fail, said Prof (Dr) Nigel MacLennan.  All companies are faced with a choice: create or cremate.


Many organisations cite the extremely low innovation success rates as the reason that they do not innovate.  In their minds innovation is too risky. 


That is true, any one innovation is risky, but not as risky as failure to innovate.  All companies that fail to innovate, fail, 100% he said.


Other companies look at organisations like Google, Sony, Canon, 3M (and the other innovation superstars) and say words to the effect of: "That's OK for them, but we are just a... (insert self-description based excuse)... and can't invest in the way they do".


Innovation superstars became so by doing, guess what? Innovating! They have become global superstars because they started with innovation and continue to innovate; they know that innovation is what makes them, or any company, successful.


Innovation superstars have a full pipeline of great ideas at various stages in the innovation life cycle, and they keep feeding that pipeline.  Ideas in one end, world beating innovations out the other.


By contrast, most companies not only have no innovation pipeline, they do not have the means to start a trickle in one.  


Why? For a multitude of reasons.  Here are just two of the many he shared:


1. They have no systematic or reliable means of generating commercially relevant ideas.


Many, if they use any techniques to create opportunities at all, are still using outdated and unreliable techniques like ‘lateral thinking’.


MaST has access to an idea creation system that enables any normal adult to systematically and reliably generate vast numbers of commercially relevant ideas in real time, as often as they wish, in what ever volume they wish.


Delegates at the Forum witnessed a live demonstration of the system, led by Prof (Dr) Nigel MacLennan, where a large number of ideas were generated right there and then, on the spot, by the delegates.


To generate ideas, three simple stages are followed:


  • Choose a direction in which to look for or create ideas
  • Choose a method to create ideas
  • Phrase and ask empowering questions to get staff (and yourself) to generate ideas


Ideas then flow, and flow, and flow.


The system works, over and over again, live, in real time.  The trick is learning how to choose directions that will be effective, select methods that are congruent with staff, the industry and the culture of the company, and, learning how to take the previous two stages to shape the kinds of questions that make generating ideas inevitable.


After the live demonstration, one of the delegates asked: "Aren't you in danger of having too many ideas, more than you can handle?".


The answer is yes.  If that is the kind of desirable problem you would like to have; to be spoiled for innovation choice, then contact us.


2. There is no systematic way of collating ideas.


Sadly, in many companies, the most sophisticated attempts at idea gathering are the electronic equivalent of the ‘suggestion box’.  In most companies even that is absent.


Staff can only generate ideas and implement them successfully IF they have the correct support from management.  In most organisations, because there is no understanding of the innovation process, or the systems and culture necessary to make innovation possible, staff come to work and leave their best ideas on the pillow.  Ideas that could transform the future of your company are never even raised let alone discussed or implemented.


For any company to become the leader in its field it also must become the most innovative in its field.  And to become the most innovative in its sector it must understand both innovation systems and innovation cultures.


MaST has access to world-class expertise on this subject.


If you wish to explore how your company can harness the innovative potential of your people, contact MaST on 0800 316 9090, email or visit