Innovation In Action
25 August 2015
Costain received ‘a fantastic response’ to the first wave of Innovation In Action training sessions, reports Group Innovation and Knowledge Manager, Tim Embley.
The training provides new skills to employees, jv partners, suppliers and customers to deal with business needs that can only be solved through innovation.
“There are some key skills to becoming a better innovator,” said Tim. “Research has been done by Harvard University, which interviewed a large number of entrepreneurs and innovators. They identified four or five skills, which are questioning, observing, networking and experimenting, that make great innovators.
“Can those skills be taught? There’s a management technique that teaches you to be more inquisitive; people can ask questions, but are they asking the right questions to get the information they’re looking for that will allow them to challenge the status quo to deliver a better solution?”
Recognising, developing and celebrating those skills in the working lives of Costain people will move them towards being great innovators, at various levels: day-to-day working, promoting step-change in the business or in leading transformation.
“Costain’s Engineering Tomorrow strategy is fundamental to our success and an integral part of that is innovation. If innovation is at the heart of our strategy, it’s important to have innovation training,” added Tim.
“We went through proof of concept training last year, we’ve refined it and have used our innovation champions to develop that further, using innovation examples from across our business.
“Due to the demand for, and success of, our first wave and the feedback we’ve had from it, we’ve now got a waiting list, which is a great endorsement for the Costain team that developed it to assist others to become better innovators.
“The training course consists of three modules over six weeks. It’s essentially a full day module with homework that allows learning to be applied and have a meaningful impact on customers’ business.”
The value of the course is endorsed by Group Technical Director, Bill Hewlett. Discovery skills are becoming much more highly valued, alongside our world-class delivery skills, he said.
However, the innovation training also points out that doing things differently can have unforeseen knock-on effects. People have to be aware of that and be able to identify any hazards that may arise.
One of the Costain personnel on the pilot course in Liverpool last autumn was Phil Wagstaff, a Project Manager on the AOne+ Area 12 roads contract. He helped refine the material then took part in the first course in March.
“We had a real mix of attendees – designers, project managers and site operations staff. It’s to try to give them a few more tools, in terms of thinking and looking at things with a different perspective.
“From my point of view, it let me step back a little bit and think about what we’re doing.”
Senior Engineer, Andy Berridge, also helped develop the training. “One of the main things I learned myself is the importance of creating a safe environment to try out new ideas. The course gives a great approach to help solve real problems with the support of the business in doing so.”
Caption: Discovery skills are becoming as valued as delivery skills, says Group Technical Director, Bill Hewlett.
Costain Communications Department