In search of radical change in all sorts of spheres

        Government needs to focus on the delivery of its own services says the Chairman of IBM; and Nesta underlines the need for more effective (evidence-based) policy-making. The Finnov Report provides some clear pointers about how finance can stimulate growth. And policy might do well to focus more on processes (like the new ‘accelerators’) than on organisations.      


                  Applied Creativity

                                                   An E-/Bulletin from

                                              The Centre for Leadership in Creativity

                                                             Edited by John Whatmore                                                                

                      Nesta Associate 

                           April 2012



*      Chairman of IBM sees need for a major shift in

        government capabilities; and Nesta focuses on the need

        for evidence-based policy-making


*      Finance, innovation and growth: a joint academic, EU

       Report whose recommendations are precisely targeted;

       but it has been virtually ignored


*      Are big or small organisations best at innovation?

       Does it matter?


*     Can ‘Accelerators’ work for big companies where

       innovation times are inherently long?


*      Competitions becoming a significant element in the

        allocation of space in incubators


                                    *                                  *                                  *


Chairman of IBM and Nesta point to two areas of government demanding change

Many mature economies suffer from seriously antiquated infrastructures, in which they need to invest, acting more collaboratively with business and civil society, writes IBM’s Chairman. Economies that succeed will have clarity about the economic and societal innovation they do uniquely well; but governments are in desperate need of modern subject-matter expertise; and they need to be more pragmatic and less ideological: a rising tide of data exists that can help design infrastructures that can revolutionise the delivery of future growth.  (For more, see

Evidence-based decision-making and rigorous evaluation of social policy is vital to developing radical, innovative solutions to the problems facing society today says a recently published collection of essays by Nesta.  ‘Evidence-based policy making sounds like a complete no-brainer. Why would decisions be made and money invested with no evidence of impact or no effort to test programmes or interventions once they have been implemented? Yet it is increasingly recognised that – beyond health – a small amount is tested to see that it works, or arguably more importantly, that it doesn’t. For instance, out of 70 programmes implemented by Department for Education, only two or three had been robustly evaluated.’(


Finance, innovation and growth: a joint academic, EU Report whose recommendations are precisely targeted; but it has been virtually ignored

Astonishingly, the recently published Finnov Report – about finance, innovation and economic growth in Europe – has been virtually ignored by the UK press, and given only a modest formal welcome by politicians. It needs to be given a much wider airing and be much more deeply discussed. Above all else it sets a value on ‘business experimentation’. Its recommendations include:                                                                                   

*Companies’ investments in human capital, productivity enhancing technologies, and innovation commitments should be [a priority of] private-sector banks – through incentives for and indicators about lending of these kinds.                                              

*Government support for SMEs should be sector specific and directed to the small percentage (6-7%) of high growth firms which have an impact on the economy in terms of jobs and/or new products.                                                                                          

*Public financing of innovation should be reformed (to function as venture capital) so that the public benefits from successful publicly-funded innovation.                                 

(More at

Are big or small organisations best at innovation? Does it matter?

It is not long since big companies were seen as the powerhouses of the economy whose scale and innovation capabilities would deliver economic growth. But then, as big companies seemed to stall, the spirit of entrepreneurialism pervaded the economy and small businesses were accorded that status.

A new report from the Progressive Policy Institute ( is not the only voice that is attempting to reclaim the promise of big companies. The CEO of Siemens has also  suggested that big, international companies will use their scale to identify local needs (eg in India) and their muscle to design and develop products that meet local conditions.

           Does the argument about whether big or small organisations are best at innovation matter? In an increasingly unpredictable world, why not simply support every organ-isation that seems to offer the possible benefits of innovation? (


Can ‘Accelerators’ work for big companies where innovation times are inherently long?

Where ‘Accelerators’ (intensive hothouses designed to generate rapid development) focus on innovation-to-market, do they have anything to offer in those sectors of the economy whose innovation times are inherently longer?

GSK introduced its new approach to drug development three years, with smaller multi-disciplinary teams, each focused more clearly on ‘discovery performance’, ‘with scientists back at the centre of the process’; and these new drug development teams have just faced their first confrontation with a senior management Dragons Dens-like meeting to assess progress and continuation of funding.

This new approach requires managers who are less operators of big company systems and more focused on specific outcomes; its multi-disciplinary teams will make for more effective team-working; and it exerts strong pressure on the teams and the development process. But there is the danger that within the company, competition will erode the potential value of collaboration; and the single three-year stage-gate cycle is probably not appropriate for all such teams. Time will tell! (


Competitions becoming a significant element in the allocation of space in incubators

The winner of the recent Startup Weekend London, just announced, was – ‘a simple way to create an A/B question and distribute it to friends across all social networks – a handy tool in a start polling situation or even to help make simple decisions about daily questions.’ This was one of eighteen presentations competing for the opportunity to be fast-tracked in Telefonica’s incubator. What seemed to impress the judges at Google’s new campus in East London where it took place – described as a combination of inspiring space, working zones and presentation area – was the rapid prototyping capabilities that produced a decisive product, well presented and ‘perfectly formed for presentation’. (for more, see


The Centre for Leadership in Creativity (a ‘virus for creativity’) carries out research and provides consultancy and peer-to-peer learning for organisations where creativity and innovation are vital.


Copyright 2012

The Centre for Leadership in Creativity               138 Iffley Road, London W6 OPE 

Tel/fax: 020 8748 2553                               E-mail:


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