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If you want new ideas……ask the next generation

Here at TSG Marine we believe in innovation and by innovation we mean delivering novel and useful ways of doing things that bring real value to our customers. But the challenge is how to remain cutting-edge.

Well, we think one answer is to observe your industry through the eyes of someone with no preconceptions. We have tested our theory successfully with those from outside our sector, like the ex-military community. However, we were recently afforded the opportunity to test the theory further through our support for a program being run in a local school.

Zenith Training asked us to support a business project at Boldon Academy. With the recent approval of the Doggerbank Wind Farm, we set the pupils the challenge of accommodating personnel in the offshore environment - they decided that underwater was the way to go! 

We were staggered by the results and the thought that had gone into their plans. Granted, some of the ideas were outside the realms of possibility. However, the effect that the teams were trying to achieve – a happy, healthy and engaged workforce – were spot on. 

And if we think about it in terms of innovation being the production of novel and useful solutions, the approach the teams took to the challenge was ideal. Firstly, they came up with creative solutions to the challenge we posed; novelty was rife. What was really interesting to observe was the unhindered way in which the solutions were discussed. Without status quo holding them back, the participants did not either consciously or unconsciously discount an idea. Initially all ideas were valid. They then went through a second stage where they filtered the ideas against the criteria that we had set to determine what made the final cut. They made the ideas useful for the situation. 

Each of the teams then presented their solutions to a panel of judges. The creativity, technical acumen and understanding of current trends such as sustainability were very impressive. All we hope is that the participants learnt as much from the experience as we did!

So, as we approach the “most magical time of the year” we would urge everyone to try the two-stage innovation process. Firstly, identify a challenge, something you have been struggling with, and carve out a small pocket of time to come up with ideas - novel solutions. Box that time off and try to avoid rationalizing the ideas. Only once you have come up with a couple of ideas, should you overlay reality. 

Better still, leave the reality part until January and let the challenge mull over Christmas, asking a couple of your young friends and family what solutions they would come up with! 

Enjoy.

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