Invention will only remain the lifeblood of the UK economy if it leads to commercial opportunity. By Mike Pearson and Jim Dawton
The challenge is therefore to find quicker, less risky ways to innovate and move invention to market success. Over 25 years Mike Pearson has pioneered structured creativity as a low-risk, cost-effective way to explore invention and demonstrate commercial opportunity. In our current economic climate it is proving to have far wider application.
WHO IS IT AIMED AT?
Pearson Innovation honed its Structured Creative Thinking (SCT) process in healthcare, where the challenges are toughest, but SCT is proving relevant for all areas of innovation and change. The processes, evolved with industry, prove equally valid for public services, health systems and across government ? creating new, innovative delivery solutions and services. Creative thinkers are change specialists; able to explore new ideas and illustrate them in ways that promote better understanding of their implications, thus enabling the building of manifestoes for change.
HOW DOES STRUCTURED CREATIVE THINKING WORK?
At the heart of SCT is design thinking, a process requiring both highly tuned creativity and in-depth understanding of technology and markets. It allows intuitive exploration of opportunities to remain grounded in reality. Design thinkers rely on their empathy to provide insight into user needs, and their intelligence to build those needs into new services and products.
CREATIVITY AND SCIENCE?
Historically creative and scientific disciplines have coexisted with little interaction because of their fundamental differences. Science relies on linear, provable, iterative steps where evidence is key and conclusions are drawn at the end of research. Creativity reverses this: the skill of the creative thinker is to build conclusions through a thought experiment, and then explore the steps to get there. The work of Pearson Innovation is proof of how creativity is helping take scientific invention and turn it into innovation ? and thus ?commercial? success.
WHAT ABOUT EVIDENCE?
Structured Creative Thinking is far from blue-sky dreaming. It uses down-to-earth evidence drawn from research into how markets and systems evolve; how costs accumulate; who is the ultimate purchaser; the needs of the user; who is the main beneficiary, as well as many other factors. The skill lies in being able to quickly and intuitively grasp, manipulate and reassemble these criteria into fresh patterns, each with subtly different emphasis. The evidence drives the problem; the creativity exposes ways around it.
THE SKILL TO COMMUNICATE
Creative thinkers have already honed presentation skills that readily illustrate these outcomes. Thus it becomes possible to compare and contrast the richness of different approaches and then distribute these to others in forms that can be quickly grasped.
Dementia care costs the UK £14.3 billion but, as the 2007 National Audit Office Report* admits, there is a growing body of research on actions that might help prevent or delay the onset of dementia. The focus of the NHS is currently on intervention, treatment and care once diagnosis has been made.
In the autumn of 2007, Mike Pearson funded research into an inclusive approach to cognitive health. It explored radical new ways to manage mental acuity through commercial services delivered through Memory Clinics situated on the high street ? in much the same manner as opticians or dentists. In March 2008 it was presented to, and was well received by, both leading dementia charities and Lord Darzi, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health. Then in December that year, Phil Hope, the Care Services Minister, announced that Memory Clinics are to be opened in every town as part of a major health service shake-up designed to face the challenges of an ageing population.
This is just one example of how design thinking exposes opportunities, and then delivers solutions for change.
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Tel: 020 8547 0470
* NAO report ?Improving services and support for people with dementia? 2nd July 2007
Added the 25 August 2009 in category Innovation UK Vol5-1