How do we create the SPARK of an idea?
June 7, 2017
It is clear to see we operate in a very different and more uncertain industry than we did 2-3 years ago. Due to the shrinking market, most companies have been forced into reducing their resources and commitments. It’s hard to find a company who hasn’t been affected.
Everyone expects a recovery, and while a measured view would suggest it’s not too far away, it is likely that the industry will not rebound to where it was. So, what can companies do now to ensure that when the market grows, they reap the benefits?
At Tendeka, we take pride in being an innovative, flexible and well-run company. We are able to adapt quickly to change, which is something that has become essential to our industry, and will remain so going forwards. We believe that as the market recovers, those companies who are both efficient and have a consistent pipeline of innovative technology will be the ones to flourish.
One of the things we have done to ensure we remain at the forefront is to develop our internal SPARK program. SPARK is based on the premise that innovation and great ideas can – and should – come from all areas of an organisation. It’s not restricted to those with ‘Engineer’ or ‘Design’ in their job titles.
SPARK started with a series of sessions where we looked at what innovation is. We concluded that to us, it is about joining up a number of good ideas, to meet to a particular challenge. This was discussed previously in our recent blog ‘Do we really need innovation?’. We then looked at examples of where some ground-breaking technology has changed the world, showing that it was actually built on existing technology, re-purposed or re-applied to a new challenge.
As a catalyst for promoting innovative thinking, we developed a five-stage process called FLOW. Covering all the areas, skills and activities present in any innovation or design process, FLOW recognises that people are each best suited to different parts of the overall process. For example, very few people are capable of both defining a challenge and providing the solution. However, by correctly combining people in teams with varied skills and experience, the FLOW model facilitates successful serial idea generation.
We are lucky in that we have team members who had worked with these methods previously, and were able to help incorporate it into our company’s operations. However, for any organisation that recognises innovation as the best way forward but unsure how best to proceed, there are sources of help out there. A first step would be to read ‘Start with Why’ by Simon Sinek, and ‘The Innovators DNA’ by Jeff Dyer et al. Ultimately though, any innovation or idea generation process needs to be suited to the organisation planning to use it, by building on the skills and experience available to them.
By utilising the talent and experience, and encouraging ideas and discussion from all team members, those operating within the oil and gas industry can not only recover from these more difficult times, but carve out a very prosperous and innovative future.
Written by John Hunter, CEng MIED