The summer forecast Simon Ellis reveals the importance of accurate demand forecasting for this autumn and winter …
This month I have asked our Director of Culinary Innovation, Stefan Cosser, to talk about one of the most creative restaurants in the world and how that thought process could translate into the retail world. As business innovators we can learn a lot from looking at other areas of our industry for global best practice. So I have asked Stefan to answer the question, ‘How do you come up with good ideas?’
Stefan says, “I often get asked ‘How do you come up with good ideas?’. This question was especially relevant in my previous role in the Experimental Kitchen at The Fat Duck which is well known for a creative and innovative way of doing things. My answer is that coming up with ideas is actually quite easy. What’s more difficult is creating a space, both physical and mental, that stimulates and facilitates and encourages a creative and collaborative way of thinking without the fear of being punished if you get something wrong.
“Some people talk about embracing and even encouraging failure. Now, I wouldn’t go that far and say we should encourage failure but we do need to understand that failure is not a bad thing. We can learn from failure and become better having failed. I wonder how many companies not only understand that but also accommodate that.
“Innovation is one of the keys to growth, especially in a steady or declining market. A lot of what we see on supermarket shelves is not true innovation but rather renovation; a new flavour range or slightly smaller or slightly bigger packaging formats. These don’t drive incremental growth. True innovation is bringing something new; a new idea, method or device to address a customer need, whether it’s one we knew about already or not. It’s the true innovation that can generate you a bigger market share.
“A study published at Cornell University found that most people will dismiss creative ideas in favour of practical and tried and tested ideas. Creative ideas are by definition novel and novelty brings feelings of uncertainty that makes most people uncomfortable. “Will people like this idea? Will customers buy it? Will it be a success or a failure?” are all questions that make most people distressed deep down. These negative associations that come with creativity are something that most of us (although not the creative types) try to avoid at all costs.
“This is why start-ups and entrepreneurs will often be the ones that do true innovation; they are often more risk taking and will ignore warning signs from the less risk taking people and persevere through failure and setbacks.
“Going back to the question of how to come up with good ideas; businesses need to look internally at how they recognise creative ideas and more importantly how the ideas are managed through the development process. The gate keepers may not necessarily be the creative types so they may be killing off good ideas at very early stages without even recognising what a good idea looks like.
“At FIS, we work with a number of businesses and help them to not only come up with and develop ideas but to also create the internal systems needed to allow ideas to flourish and reach a level of potential before the all important questions of whether to take the idea forward or kill it. The real value is in how these ideas get translated and distilled into commercially viable innovations. Rather than just increasing the quantity of ideas, this method improves the good idea success rates.”