Trying a little risky business

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The Independent Online
Tomorrow consultants from Coopers & Lybrand are hosting a workshop designed to demonstrate how passion and trust are central to innovation.

The event, an adaptation of something they have put on at the Edinburgh fringe, will feature exercises designed "to allow people to experience for themselves" the difference emotions such as trust and passion can make.

The workshop at Grosvenor House Hotel in London follows on from a survey published by Coopers that identified trust at the top of a list of 10 characteristics that differentiated successful innovators.

This is just the latest in a series of events designed to spread best practice about innovation. Earlier this month Tim Brown, head of the London office of IDEO, a leading international product development company, gave a lecture at the Royal Institute of British Architects at which he set out what he thought his organisation had learned.

For instance, he said, "innovation is easier if you treat life as an experiment". This means that people should forever be looking for new ways of doing things. A second important means of achieving creativity is to have a "risk a little, gain a lot" attitude. In other words, you cannot have an innovative culture if you cannot tolerate failure. But another key lesson he identifies is less particular to innovation; it is that "life is simpler if you understand the customer".

With a young, active workforce, IDEO has found it comparatively easy to develop a close knowledge of businesses such as computers and bicycles because its staff are heavy users of such things and see opportunities for innovation on a daily basis. But they also make it their business to build up similar understandings of other, less accessible, sectors.

Somewhat neatly, this leads back to the passion that consultants increasingly believe is the key to success in business.