If you find it difficult to accept failure then you simply won’t get any innovation, because employees will be too frightened.
Sir Terry Leahy, CEO, Tesco, quoted in Professional Manager, January 2010
UK plc has a mixed track record when it comes to innovation. We have a wealth of scientific expertise and know-how; the number of graduates becoming qualified in key science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills continues to rise; and the UK remains in the top five on the EU’s ‘scoreboard’ for innovation performance. However, only one in five managers has any qualification for the job they do.
When it comes to putting great ideas into practice, however, the UK is still lagging behind many of its competitors. Business investment in research and development (R&D) remains low overall, with private equity and venture capital in particular taking a nosedive over the past two years.
The recession has, of course, played a part in this downturn in funding, but in a difficult economic climate, organisations need to innovate more than ever before. Increasing global competition means that it’s no longer enough for businesses to compete on price alone. They need to come up with new and exciting ideas that will help them stand out from the crowd and attract new customers. Public sector organisations, faced with swingeing cuts, also need to find ways to break the mould and come up with alternative and creative ways of delivering front-line services.