Monday, 30 November 2009

Lessons on starting a new business from Make it and Mend it

Some great lessons from our friends at Make it and Mend It on starting a new business

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Entrepreneurs vrs Business Drivers

It is an interesting debate - are the same skills required to grow a business that are vital to start a business? The Radio 4 Food Programme looks at this issue and firmly comes out in the camp of different skills required

Monday, 9 November 2009

Innovation Beehive on Talking HR

For those of you who missed the show tonight you can catch up on the podcast here

Innovation Beehive on Money Magpie

Jasmine Birtles has again posted our insights on Innovating in a Recession

Check out Money Magpie for the best hints and tips on saving money and beating the recession

Diversity Drives Innovation at Cisco

A decision to make IT firm Cisco a more “gender balanced” company has already produced innovation and new business

Nikki Walker, director of inclusion and diversity for European markets at Cisco, told People Management that this had been possible because diversity was viewed as crucial to the business rather than “just a HR programme”.

Walker came to the role not from an HR background, but via finance and operations roles at Cisco.

The programme has set up Action Learning Forums where ideas are exchanged and diversity championed. It has already resulted in new cost saving measures and products to take to market.

To read more check out People Management

HR and Innovation on Blog Radio

We are really excited that MOK will be on Jon Ingham's Talking HR Blog Radio show tonight at 7.30pm.

Check out the link and do let us know what you think - and call in if you get really involved. We'd love to hear from you

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Damien Hirst a Business Guru

We love looking at related worlds for stimulus to crack our client's business problems, so we were delighted to hear that The London Business school is taking lessons from Damien Hirst on how to develop winning business strategies. They said " strategic innovation is all about distupting established industry sectors - and that is precisely what he has done....he identified new consumer groups and made new art forms that would appeal to those consumer groups...he created a strong brand".

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Jim Collins - going from Great to Good

A wonderful interview with Jim Collins (author of Good to Great) on why organisations fail and what HR can do, from the CIPD

Innovation Beehive on Money Magpie Blog

We are thrilled that financial expert Jasmine Birtles has posted our post on Cancelling Christmas on the fantastic Money Magpie website. Check it out at

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Cancelling the Christmas party

This week a survey of 1000 British firms revealed that four out of five are cancelling the Christmas party and another survey found that half of the firms asked are still undecided.

HR professionals are usually concerning themselves with making sure that no inappropriate behaviour takes place after a few too many glasses of wine, with the photocopier room beckoning, but in this age of new austerity, they are being asked by the CEO to advise on 'what it will look like if we have a do this year'.

The Forum of Private Business is urging companies to go ahead with the festivities with spokesperson Phil McCabe pointing out that a huge number of businesses rely on the Christmas festivities for survival. He pointed out that

"they are a valuable way of saying thank you to staff during this turbulent time".

Leading the way in this Scrooge like behaviour is the BBC which last year halved Christmas budgets from £50 to £25. Now staff will get nothing.

We also fear that by scrapping even a modest budget for a few peanuts and crackers will result in managers dipping into their own pockets, or worst still, fiddling an expense report to charge the party under a different cost line (which could end in dismissal if it is spotted by the Finance Department).

We have been lucky enough to spend time with Tim Smit, founder of The Eden Project. He says that "something magical happens when co-workers break bread together" and insists that teams have a meal together every few months (he calls it "working by winelight").

The HR profession has spent the last few years talking about Employee Engagement and how it can impact on the bottom line. After such a depressing 2009 for many employees, we feel they deserve the opportunity to break some bread together, have a few drinks and watch the CEO dance like your uncle at a cheesy wedding. Don't you?

Monday, 26 October 2009

SWA going the extra mile

We have all heard about the legendary service of Texan based South West Airline (if you haven't you should read a copy of "Wow"). Here is a fabulous clip from UTube where the air stewards sing to the passengers. They say they want people who work there to take their jobs seriously, but not themselves. We think that this clip proves the Recruitment strategy is working

A little tour of the Google Complex

If you ever fancied what goes on at Mountain View, then check out this fun video (it only lasts a few minutes)

Friday, 23 October 2009

Tesco Store go self-service

We have a dilemma here at The Innovation Beehive. We firmly believe that people deliver the brand experience, yet we are also all about Innovation differentiating you in the market place. Tesco has unveiled a store with only self-service check outs. Great economy I am sure, but where is the brand experience?

How GE does reverse innovation

A great little podcast from HBR and Tuck School of Business with insights into GE's innovation process.

Especially interesting points on how to run local teams to drive Innovation.

Download it to your iphone and next time you are doing the Sainsbury run....

Monday, 19 October 2009

Creativity can change behvaviour

We love this simple experiment conducted in Denmark. Could creative thinking change behaviour and get people to walk up the stairs rather than use the escalator? Yes. Find out how

BT Graduate Progreamme

Those of you who attended our Consult/Innovation Beehive breakfast last year on How HR can add value in the Recession will remember that we made a plea for companies not to stop Graduate Recruitment. Shortly after the press reported that BT was to stop its Graduate Programme for 2010. We were delighted to read in People Management (24th September) they will recruit 130 university leavers this year. Great news. New talent brings a fresh perspective to an organisation and is vital to its innovative competitiveness.

Employment Law Gone Mad?

A US pizza chain has been ordered to pay for weight loss surgery for a member of staff who injured himself at work and has to undergo surgery. Adam Childers injured himself on a fridge door at work and Boston Gourmet Pizza offered to pay for back surgery. In order to go through the surgery he must undergo weight loss surgery and the Indiana Court of Appeal has ruled that Boston Gourmet Pizza is liable for the additional $25k costs.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Visa Europe and HCM blogpost

We were really excited that Jon Ingham in his fantastic blog has written about The Innovation Beehive/Consult HR Event we held a few weeks ago.

If you want to find out how Visa Europe align personal values to organisational values to deliver a peak performing organisation, check out:

Sunday Times Women in the Boardroom

Why are there so few women in Boardroom roles? Janet Street-Porter thinks it's about self confidence. Check out this piece on The Sunday Times for more:

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

How Pixar foster Creativity - from HBR

The Idea in Brief

A robot falls in love in a post-apocalyptic world. A French rat sets out to become a chef. A suburban family of superheroes defeats a power-hungry villain. Unexpected ideas, all—yet Pixar Animation Studios is turning these and other novel ideas into blockbuster films.

How? As Catmull explains, Pixar’s leaders have discovered potent practices for structuring and operating a creative organization. For example, they give writers, artists, and other “creatives” enormous leeway to make decisions. They make it safe for people to share unfinished work with peers, who provide candid feedback. And they conduct project post-mortems in ways that extract the most valuable lessons for mitigating risk on subsequent projects.

The effort has paid off. Pixar’s has racked up a unique track record of success: It’s the leading pioneer in computer animation. It has never had to buy scripts or movie ideas from outside. And since 1995, it has released seven films—all of which became huge hits.

The Idea in Practice

Catmull suggests these principles for managing your creative organization:

Empower your creatives. Give your creative people control over every stage of idea development.

Example: At most studios, a specialized development department generates new movie ideas. Pixar assembles cross-company teams for this purpose. Teams comprise directors, writers, artists, and storyboard people who originate and refine ideas until they have potential to become great films. The development department’s job? Find people who’ll work effectively together. Ensure healthy social dynamics in the team. Help the team solve problems.

Create a peer culture. Encourage people throughout your company to help each other produce their best work.

Example: At Pixar, daily animation work is shown in an incomplete state to the whole crew. This process helps people get over any embarrassment about sharing unfinished work—so they become even more creative. It enables creative leads to communicate important points to the entire crew at once. And it’s inspiring: a highly innovative piece of animation sparks others to raise their game.

Free up communication. The most efficient way to resolve the numerous problems that arise in any complex project is to trust people to address difficulties directly, without having to get permission. So, give everyone the freedom to communicate with anyone.

Example: Within Pixar, members of any department can approach anyone in another department to solve problems, without having to go through “proper” channels. Managers understand they don’t always have to be the first to know about something going on in their realm, and that it’s okay to walk into a meeting and be surprised.

Craft a learning environment. Reinforce the mind-set that you’re all learning—and it’s fun to learn together.

Example: “Pixar University” trains people in multiple skills as they advance in their careers. It also offers optional courses (screenplay writing, drawing, sculpting) so people from different disciplines can interact and appreciate what each other does.

Get more out of post-mortems. Many people dislike project post-mortems. They’d rather talk about what went right than what went wrong. And after investing extensive time on the project, they’d like to move on. Structure your post-mortems to stimulate discussion.

Example: Pixar asks post-mortem participants to list the top five things they’d do again and the top five they wouldn’t do. The positive-negative balance makes it a safer environment to explore every aspect of the project. Participants also bring in lots of performance data—including metrics such as how often something had to be reworked. Data further stimulate discussion and challenge assumptions based on subjective impressions.

My old Yum! colleague Douglas MacDonald has just set up a fantastic on line career management system called Dekasu

He says:

"Dekasu is a free-to-use career management toolkit designed to give you the advantage you need in today's competitive job market. We provide a secure record of your career history, tools to easily generate tailored CVs and other career development resources.

Part of Dekasu's appeal is our proprietary matching technology. It is a totally new way to find your next position. You specify the profile of your ideal next role (function, sector, location, package etc). We identify the employers who will contact you directly.

The name Dekasu is a Japanese word meaning 'to accomplish' or 'to achieve'. We feel it neatly captures what our members are all about — hard work, intelligence & focus on reaching their career goals."

Check it out

Final Preparations

Tomorrow we are hosting the third in our series of HR network breakfasts in partnership with Michelle Lawton of Consult HR. We have speakers from Visa Europe and T5 discussing how to drive organisational performance. We will post up the main points of the presentations tomorrow, so watch this space. For more details on Consult HR check out

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Email ruined my life

A nice little show from BBC Money programme on how email can impact on productivity and five golden rules to deal with it

Monday, 5 October 2009

Google Recruitment Video

A little video from Google used in Recruitment. A bit stilted, but some insights

Zappos having fun at work

Everyone seems to be talking about Zappos and what a great company it is, what an amazing culture it has and tales of great customer service. We will be posting our thoughts on it in a few weeks, but in the meantime, here is an example of how they create a great place to work. It's just a few office colleagues having a joke but the fact they can do it, film it and post it on u-tube says a lot about the company culture.

Stay tuned for a more detailed piece of

Saturday, 3 October 2009

The Power of Time Off and Desgin Thinking at TED Talks

Stefan Sagmeister, a New York based designer, talks about taking a year off every seven years. From TED Global

And Tim Brown from IDEO talks about Design Thinking

Friday, 2 October 2009

Innovation Beehive/Consult HR Event

Press Release

Consult-HR Executive and The Innovation Beehive are delighted to announce the third in our series of Breakfast Round Tables for Senior Human Resource professionals delivered this year. The event, on October 8th, will be held at Visa Europe’s Offices in London will focus on how Human Resources can contribute to “Delivering Outstanding Organisational Performance”. Previous events have covered the role of Human Resources in an economic downturn. Events for 2010 will include Creating an Innovation Culture and Using Social Media in your Recruitment Strategy.

Speakers at the event include:

Derrick Ahlfeldt is the Senior VP of HR for Visa Europe. He will be speaking about Visa Europe’s “My Story” programme that has successfully aligned employees individual values and aspirations with Visa’s values and aspirations. This has driven employee engagement to over 90% and customer satisfaction to 8 on a 10-point scale.

Sharon Doherty, Group HR and Organisational Effectiveness Director at Laing O’Rourke. Sharon will discuss her time as Head of Organisational Effectiveness during the construction of Terminal 5, at that time the biggest construction project in Europe. The ground breaking Terminal 5 Agreement demanded ground breaking management thinking. She will share the lessons learnt from this mega project and how it was delivered on time, on budget and safely.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Employer Branding

Nice little 'how to' guide from the CIPD

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Twiiter, Crowdsourcing and Recruitment

How Twitter and Crowdsourcing are changing recruitment (from HBR)

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Windows 7 Party

We are all for involving your customers in your product launches but think that a Microsoft Windows 7 party is just a step too far. Check it out and prepare to be shocked at the naffness

Paul Smith and Evian

Great little video where Paul Smith discusses his new design for the Evian. He is in his studio talking about stimulus and creativity

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Kinder Capitalism

Charlie Mayfield, CEO of John Lewis Group, talks about the partner approach to running a business.

Vodofone HR and the new brand

“The centre of this company is marketing and human resources,” he said. “It is not the brand talking any more and telling the customer what to do. It is the customer who will decide.” so says Vittorio Colao the CEO of Vodafone UK.

For more on how Vodafone is using a well defined People Strategy to execute the new brand positioning "Power to you", check out

Sunday, 20 September 2009

New ways of working for ad agencies

We got a lot of emails about Wispa and Pepperami and, as promised, we did a bit of digging on new ways of working for ad agencies. We love friivertise - companies upload a brief and freelance creatives compete to win it. It's genius.

Check it out

Friday, 18 September 2009

Fashion Innovation

A short article from Business Week's Innovation Guru Bruce Nussbaum on Innovation In Fashion, to tie in with New York Fashion Week. And nice to see it's raining there too!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Money Magpie Posting

We are really excited to be listed on Money Magpie's blog. Money Magpie will show you how to live without blowing your budget, how to save and how to make some spare cash. It is the brainchild of Jasmine Birtles and well worth a visit.

Check it out

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Jet Blue Culture

A great piece in this month's Fortune Magazine on how Jet Blue is winning in the recession with a focus on culture and cost efficiencies. Check out the Values....

Thursday, 10 September 2009

tony Soprano as a Leader

Our friend Steve Faktor just sent us his thoughts on Tony Soprano about AIG...

Darth Vader as a Leader

From BA Business Life Magazine:

Darth Vader

HR would have a field day with the Star Wars villain, what with his bullying and torture of staff who displease him. Not to mention the corporate responsibility and PR problems that go along with building something called the Death Star. But the Dark Lord of the Sith can teach us a bit about modern management if we dig deep enough.

He created a cult of leadership where many of his underlings were completely devoted to him, excusing his occasional lapses of mood — a strategy that stood Apple boss Steve Jobs in good stead as he created an empire built on cutting edge, planet-changing technology.

Creating an air of mystery can also help to increase your authority. If people can’t read your face and don’t know what you’re thinking, they can experience an uncomfortable sensation that puts them on the back foot — perhaps US Vogue editor Anna Wintour’s famous bob and huge dark glasses were influenced by Darth back in the 1970s…

Darth, like any good leader, is decisive, swift to act, has a variety of skills (he doesn’t just sit behind a desk, he gets out and flies a fighter ship alongside his junior pilots) and is driven by an insatiable desire to succeed.

On the downside, he managed to let family issues cloud his judgement and, in the end, revealed himself as a sentimental pussycat and showed a modicum of remorse as the empire crumbled. Sometimes, you just can’t let the mask slip.

Twitter's top 40 Twitter Brands

If you want some external stimulation and are interested in using social networking to get closer to your customers, you could check out where you will find the Top 40 Tweeting Brands. Follow a few of them and you will learn a thing or two.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Using your customers for ideas

Word on the street is that Pepperami have sacked advertising agency Lowe and are looking to customers for the next big advertising idea. They believe that they can generate up to 4000 ideas from the site

It seems that the craze for consumer involvement is catching, with Cadbury about to go live with Wispa Gold they have launced where you can upload a message that will appear on bill boards up and down the country.

Crowdsourcing? Open Innovation? Or Cost Cutting? We will keep you posted

Leadership Event - How to drive organisational success

We are really excited to be co-hosting an event at Visa Europe on 8th October focusing on Driving Organisational Performance with speakers from Visa and Laing O'Rourke.

For more details click on the link below:

Thursday, 3 September 2009

A place for inventions

A cute little site where users can upload ideas and get comments. Good stimulus if you are considering implementing a staff suggestion scheme

How to Innovate Step by Step from Fast Company

A nice little slide show from Fast Company which breaks down the steps to Innovation. Simple but interesting

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

More on Innovating in a Recession - Tide Basic

We had a lot of people contact us to talk about Innovating in a Recession. Something that particularly resonated was the introduction of a value range. We have seen it happen at Waitrose with the introduction of the Waitrose Essential range and P&G have taken it a step further with Tide Basic. The product is being tested in about 100 stores in America’s Southern States and retails at about 20% below the standard Tide product. This is in response to an 18% decline in fiscal forth quarter sales.

The product does the job of cleaning, but contains none of the perfumes and conditioners in regular Tide.

This is a real example of an organisation listening to the consumer. In these tough economic times shoppers are increasingly turning to supermarket’s own label products as they tighten the purse stings. Whilst there is no doubt some concern at P&G’s headquarters in Cincinatti, we think it’s better to risk sales of the premium range in order to avoid brand switching. Yet again, P&G are leading the way in Innovation.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Innovating in the Global Recession

A number of clients are asking us to help them to innovate out of the this crisis. Whilst every organisation is different, here are The Innovation Beehive's top line tips for innovating in the global recession:

1) It all starts with the customer - go back and triple your efforts on building consumer insight. What do they need now? What processes do you have in place that are getting in the way?

2) Add a value offering to your portfolio. Over the last five years we have heard clients say that consumers will be prepared to pay a little more for premium. Those days are gone. Ask how you can still give your consumer access to your product or service and consider introducing a value range. KFC UK are a great example of this with the Street Wise 99p snack menu and £1.99 Snack Box. Burger King is running to catch up.

3) Get Skinny. When Steve Jobs went back to Apple he was ruthless at culling the amount of projects being worked on. Review your innovation portfolio and cut those projects that are least promising.

4) Get into bed with someone. Necessity is the mother of invention so look around your industry and search for an innovation partner. Talk to your suppliers and get them involved in your business.

5) Think Home Grown. If done successfully, staff suggestion schemes are a great way of coming up with new ideas. Think about "I'm Running Sainsburys" (and see our previous blog). They can be a great motivator for staff and a fantastic source of free new ideas.

6) Flex your People. KPMG has creatively used the slack the recession has provided in the diary of Senior Management. They now act as project sponsors and innovation mentors. If your execs aren't as busy as they used to be, put them to work on driving sponsoring and driving innovation.

7) Go Open Source. Look outside the walls of your business for ideas and new relationships. This is low cost and low risk. P&G used to be known as "the Kremlin on the river" and now are the world leaders in open source innovation. Check out to find out how they did it.

8) Stay Talent Focused. Review your current innovation capability against your market needs. Identify the gaps and use any slack in business to re-deploy your teams to projects to drive revenue and profit.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Graduates and BT

We were saddened to read this weekend that BT has suspended its Graduate Training Programme in light of the current economic climate. Fresh eyes and ambitious talent is a key to any organisation's future success and innovation strategy. We fear that they are being very short term in thinking. However, they are being creative in other areas - we read they are loaning out employees to other firms in a bid to avoid redundancies.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Storytelling for Leaders

A good leadership story has the power to engage hearts and minds. It has these six crucial elements:

  1. Draws on your real past and lessons you've learned from it.
  2. Resonates emotionally with your audience because it's relevant to them.
  3. Inspires your audience because it's fueled by your passion.
  4. Shows the struggle between your goal and the obstacles you faced in pursuing it.
  5. Illustrates with a vivid example.
  6. Teaches an important lesson
With thanks to HBR for the inspiration

Google and the business card

Is the business card dead? Google profile would like to think so:

Hiring People You Don't Agree With

For anyone who has put together a team. it is a real temptation to hire in your own image. This piece from Harvard Business Review online gives us great food for thought:

Hire People Who Disagree with You

Emma Sky is a British pacificist dedicated to getting the U.S. out of Iraq. In 2007 she also became a key aide to General Ray Ordierno, the operational commander of U.S. forces. "People always thought we were funny," she tells Thomas Ricks in his book, The Gamble, "this huge man (Ordierno is 6'5) and this tiny British woman who went everywhere with him." Sky represented a civilian sensibility and voiced oppositional views that she felt senior officers needed to hear. Ordierno once referred to Sky has "my insurgent."

Credit Ordierno, as Ricks does, for realizing that he needed someone who could be "his opposite" (Sky's words). In this instance, Ordierno was following the example of his boss, General David Petraeus, who surrounded himself with an assortment of military and civilian aides. This "brain trust," as Ricks calls it, would provide him with the different perspectives so vital to running a counter-insurgency operation.

Leaders who solicit opinions from people who disagree with them are smart enough to realize that they do not have all the answers. Such leaders also must make it safe for others to disagree; otherwise the exercise is moot. Here are some things to consider when hiring for difference.

Look for character. From a leadership position, character is the willingness to do what is right for the team. Every team needs people who will stand up for their ideas. That requires backbone. Integrity and virtue are also essential, but what matters is not what you are, it is what you do . Character is leadership put to good purpose.

Look for strength of ideas. It is not enough to disagree; executives need alternate viewpoints that are based on facts as well as reason. Good ideas that are contrary to the boss's ideas must be carefully thought-out, supported by data, and argued from a viewpoint of doing what is best for stakeholders.

Look for ambition. When bringing on someone who disagrees with you, or at least is not afraid to do so, make sure they have an ambition to move up in the organization. They aren't just contrarian; they want to make a positive difference, and they're in it for the long haul.

Look at their track record. I have yet to see a recruitment advertisement that says, "Wanted: People to Disagree with Boss." So look for managers who have shepherded projects to positive ends when the odds were against them. For example, if they achieved something in the face of new competition, diminished resources, or even organizational change, these are indicators of an ability to think and act for themselves.

Hiring someone who is opposed to your ideas is not the same as hiring someone who is opposed to you. The former is a good thing; the latter is a threat. The latter will disrupt the team in order to achieve his personal ambitions at your expense. Such a person will cause more grief than glory — so keep him on a short leash or ask him to find work elsewhere. In any organization, the designated leader must have the final say in strategic decisions, otherwise the organization loses focus and direction.

Having a strong oppositional voice is the mark of good leadership. Rather than a sign of weakness, it demonstrates force of character and the ability to think and act strategically. More importantly, oppositional views can clarify the leader's own thinking, sometimes changing his mind, other times sharpening a course of action.

And while ultimately, the leader still has to make the final call, encouraging others to voice opposing views enables the organization to be more adaptable and more agile — and will help you make better decisions as a leader.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Trainer's Development Network

We are delighted to be running a session at The Trainer's Development Network on 11th September. It's a great way for L&D professionals to gain CPD.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Building Leadership Capability for Change

From the CIPD podcast series, an interview with Gary Hamel

How to Innovate like Apple

We just love learning from the best, so when our friend Paul Deeprose at The Career Gym told us about this article, we wanted to share it with all of you!

How to Innovate Like Apple

by Chris Morrison

Apple makes it look easy. From the sleek design of its personal computers to the clever intuitiveness of its software to the ubiquity of the iPod to the genius of the iPhone, Apple consistently redefines each market it enters by creating brilliant gadgets that put the competition to shame. What’s the secret? Apple has built its management system so that it’s optimized to create distinctive products. That’s good news for would-be emulators, because it means Apple’s method for innovation can be understood as a specific set of management practices and organizational structures that — in theory, at least — anyone can use. This Crash Course outlines the techniques Apple uses to make the magic happen.
Things you will need:

* It may take several years to cultivate new skills and rebuild your product lineup.
* You’ll need funding to create a dedicated innovation team and sufficient capital to rethink your product lineup.
* Strategic clarity: Innovating effectively means creating your own opportunities in a crowded marketplace to avoid both mediocrity and commoditization.
* Patience: Creativity is a fickle thing, and it doesn’t always follow the clock. False starts and the occasional flop are part of the process and must be accommodated.
* Strong leadership: Innovation doesn’t happen by committee. Visionaries with effective management skills are hard to find, but they’re a critical ingredient for success.

Clear Your Mind

GOAL: Understand what it takes to create truly remarkable products.

The word “zen” is often applied to both Apple’s products and the company’s highly focused CEO, Steve Jobs. And while the compliment usually refers to the beauty of the company’s minimalist products, enlightenment is more than skin-deep. “In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains or the sofa,” Jobs has said of his product philosophy. “But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design.” Design is a “fundamental soul,” Jobs says, that expresses itself through an end result — the product.

What is Apple’s fundamental soul? The company’s motto, “Think Different,” provides a hint. Apple maintains an introspective, self-contained operating style that is capable of confounding competitors and shaking up entire industries. For example, Nokia, once considered the undisputed leader in mobile phones, never anticipated that a single product from a computer maker might throw its ascendancy into question.

Internally, Apple barely acknowledges competition. It’s the company’s ability to think differently about itself that keeps Apple at the head of the pack. Current and past employees tell stories about products that have undergone costly overhauls just to improve one simple detail. Other products are canceled entirely because they don’t fit in or don’t perform up to par.

Apple’s culture has codified a habit that is good for any company to have but is especially valuable for firms that make physical things: Stop, step back from your product, and take a closer look. Without worrying about how much work you’ve already put into it, is it really as good as it could be? Apple asks that question constantly.

Build Your Fortress

GOAL: Create the infrastructure you need to innovate.

From the outside, Apple’s offices look like those of just about any large modern American corporation. Having outgrown its headquarters campus at 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino, Calif., Apple now has employees in other buildings scattered across the town and around the world. Size and sprawl are formidable challenges that most companies manage gracelessly, either by splintering into disorganized, undisciplined communities or by locking employees into tight, stifling bureaucracies. Apple tends toward the latter, but it does so in a unique way that generally (but not always) plays to its advantage.

At its worst, Apple’s culture resembles the closed paranoia of North Korea. For example, one Apple source who agreed to be interviewed anonymously for this story backed out at the last minute. Why? He feared that his employer would examine his phone bill and find him out. Another spoke on background but mentioned the possibility of a lawsuit if he were quoted by name. These are common fears within Apple, and they really do keep the company’s employees quiet. The obsession with secrecy is a double-edged sword, however: It gives Apple a vital element of surprise in the marketplace, but the never-ending game of internal spy vs. spy is draining for rank-and-file employees. Indeed, the corporate culture came under scrutiny recently after an employee of a foreign supplier — reportedly under suspicion for leaking the prototype of a new iPhone — committed suicide in Shenzhen, China.

Beyond the secrecy, which affects everyone, Apple’s approach is hardly one-size-fits-all. Rank-and-file employees are often given clear-cut directives and close supervision. Proven talent gets a freer hand, regardless of job title.

Cultivate Your Elite

GOAL: Empower your most valuable employees to do amazing work.

In truly despotic societies, both art and science suffer terribly. Apple, on the other hand, reliably churns out the industrial equivalents of da Vinci paintings and Hokusai woodcuts. This has little to do with how the company treats employees in general. Rather, it stems from the meticulous care and feeding provided to a specific group: the creatives. Apple’s segmented, stratified organizational structure — which coddles its most valuable, productive employees — is one of the company’s most formidable assets.

One former Apple consultant tells of an eye-opening introduction to Apple’s first-class treatment of its creatives. The consultant visited Apple’s Industrial Design Group, the team that gives Apple products their distinctive, glossy look. Tucked away within Apple’s main campus, the IDG is a world unto itself. It’s also sealed behind unmarked, restricted-access doors. Within the IDG, employees operate free from outside distractions and interference. “It didn’t feel like working at Apple,” our source remembers. “It felt like working at a small design firm.” Some companies are famous for perks — Google, for example, with its free massages and gourmet lunches. Apple focuses on atmosphere, nurturing its best designers behind opaque glass in a hidden sanctuary with music playing in the background.

Despite their favored status, Apple’s creatives still have no more insight into the company’s overall operations than an Army private has into the Pentagon. At Apple, new products are often seen in their complete form by only a small group of top executives. This, too, works as a strength for Apple: Instead of a sprawling bureaucracy that new products have to be pushed through, Apple’s top echelon is a small, tightly knit group that has a hand in almost every important decision the company makes.

Don’t Rush, Don’t Dawdle

Goal: Prevent short-term, cyclical, or competitive pressures from overwhelming an effective strategy.

It’s often said that people in particular cultures live life at their own unique paces. Americans are seen as hard-driving and somewhat shortsighted — a side effect of a business culture that takes its cues from the stock market’s emphasis on quarterly results.

Apple is different because Apple dances to a rhythm of its own making. Although its rising stock has become a vital part of many portfolios, Apple cancels, releases, and updates products at its own speed, seemingly irrespective of market conditions or competitive pressure. Apple doesn’t telegraph its moves, either: The iPod and iPhone, iconic products both, each began as rumors that Apple seemed determined to quash.

Plan B

Staying Cool When the Heat Is On

Your stock price is down, your customers are angry, and investors are banging on your door. Sure, acting like Apple seems like a good idea — until your board starts craving blood. How do you maintain a focus on innovation when you don’t have a few successful quarters to back you up?

Clone Your Own Steve Jobs

GOAL: If you put a tyrannical perfectionist in charge, institutionalize his thinking.

New adherents to the cult of Steve Jobs may be surprised to hear this: The most iconic Apple laptop, the original PowerBook, was released in 1991, after Jobs had been absent for six years. The smug hipsters who line today’s cafes with rows of identical MacBooks are merely updated versions of their counterparts from the early ’90s. Yet Jobs was in no way responsible for this enduring innovation.

So does that mean Steve Jobs is irrelevant? Or is Jobs — and his maniacal focus on building insanely great products — a necessary ingredient of Apple’s success?

Historians have long grappled with a similar question: How critical are those rare, world-changing “great leaders” whose efforts seem irreplaceable? Most historians now believe that great leaders are made by their circumstances and that their great deeds actually reflect the participation of thousands, or even millions, of people. In the case of Apple, there would be no Mac, no iPod, and no iPhone without the efforts of thousands of engineers and vast numbers of consumers who were looking for products that better served their needs.

That said, Jobs cuts an impressive figure, and if he was “made” by his circumstances, that process took many years. Remember that the first edition of Steve Jobs — the young inventor who, at 21, created Apple Computer — was not the visionary we know today. Instead, after nine years at Apple’s helm, the young Steve Jobs was ousted because of his aggressive, take-no-prisoners personality, which created a poisonous, unproductive atmosphere when it pervaded the company.

Today’s Steve Jobs seems to have learned how to focus that aggressive, take-no-prisoners personality more shrewdly, and to great effect. While he’s still an essential part of Apple’s success, the company has also institutionalized many of Jobs’ values to such an extent that Apple is now far less dependent on him. Tim Cook, for example, worked well as acting CEO during the first half of this year, when Jobs was on sick leave. But questions remain. So long as the overwhelming personality of Jobs is present, can anyone really grow into that position? Only when Jobs steps back from his role permanently will we really be able to determine how well Apple has learned the lessons he has taught.


Over time, Apple has built a seasoned management team that’s optimized to support bold new product initiatives (and recover from the occasional flop). Here are a few of the techniques Apple’s management uses to make the magic happen.

1. Ignore fads. Apple has held off building a cheap miniature laptop to respond to the “netbook” fad, because these devices don’t offer good margins. Instead it released the ultrathin, ultra-expensive Air, a product more in line with its own style.

2. Don’t back down from fights you can win. Apple is a tough partner and a ruthless enemy. In 2007, Apple pulled NBC’s television programs from the iTunes Store after the network tried to double the prices consumers pay to download shows. NBC backed down within days, and ever since, giant media conglomerates have been hesitant to face off with Apple over pricing.

3. Flatten sprawling hierarchies. Companies with extended chains of authority tend to plod when it’s time to act. Most of the decisions at Apple come from Jobs and his immediate deputies.

4. Pay less attention to market research and competitors. Most firms develop their products through a combination of touchy-feely consumer focus groups and efforts to imitate successful products from other companies. Apple does neither, and the iPod and iPhone are clear proof of that.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

How to organise for Innovation - Cisco as a radical example

If you are thinking about how to structure for Innovation, have a look at what Cisco are doing

Executive Remuneration

For anyone wrestling with executive remuneration at the moment, in light of the recession and the back lash against the banks, this half hour programme from Radio Four will give you some great stimulus

Friday, 7 August 2009

John Timpson Upside Down Management

John Timpson is the CEO and Chief Executive of Timpson Shoe Repairs. He runs a very successful business where staff are empowered and service is key. He calls it 'Upside Down Managment'. Find out all about it in this Radio 4 In Business podcast

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Stealing Bears

Not about business or innovation, but we couldn't resist this. A bear has been convicted of stealing honey:

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Swapping shifts

We thought this was an interesting concept, but I am not sure I would like someone I don't know turning up saying they are working at The Innovation Beehive

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Some Tips for Creating an Innovative Employer Brand (EVP)

Lots of clients have been asking for help with Employer Branding, so we thought we would share with you The Innovation Beehive's Top Tips:


To begin to break down the silo mentality, don’t own this all in HR.
Build a working party that includes stakeholders from different functions.

Mine What You Have

Really dig deep into your Employee Opinion Survey. Seek out the sub-text of the results.
Find those parts of the business that have great scores and great
results. This should be your clue to the organisation you want
represented in your EVP

Know Who You Want to Bee

Talk to the Senior Team about the organisation’s they admire.
This will give you the clues on how to present your EVP to them and
help you understand what they believe is the secret of an organisation’s success

Bee Aspirational but not Unrealistic

It is tempting when developing an Employment Brand to come up with
something that is too far removed from the reality. It should be
aspirational but rooted in what happens day to day

Make it Hard

Find out what the competition are doing and rack and stack where you are and build
a worse case scenario if you don’t create a compelling brand. Use this to persuade the doubters that you need to ramp up your Employment Brand

Friday, 31 July 2009

Training and new media

There was a great edition of In Business last night on how Training Departments are using social media and user generated content.

Check it out:

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Free Book Offer

We at The Innovation Beehive loved Chip and Dan Heath's book "Made to Stick". It explains how to get real traction for ideas in a business.

They will be publishing a new book - Switch- next year and they are offering free copies in advance.

Sign up here:

Monday, 20 July 2009

6 lessons from the Moon Landing

We love to get stimulus from everywhere - even the Moon

check out

New jobs for the HR Department

We loved this little piece by Alain de Botton - anyone else been told by a partner, when they are sorting out an argument "don't go all HR on me!"?

Everyone hates the HR department. This is the cavern from which your P45 is sent, where your assessments are stored and where orders are sent out to ship you off on a group exercise to a salmon-coloured conference centre near Staines, where you will hold hands with your boss and sing inspirational songs.

And yet to rebel against the HR department is to misunderstand one's era and the deeper currents of history.

Never before have so many thousands of ambitious human beings been asked to work together in such close confinement.

And so never before has there been such a need to determine how people could possibly sit together day after day in narrow plywood cubicles without screaming or murdering one another.

HR departments have had to study from scratch how we can munch our sandwiches so close to our colleagues without venting the gamut of our destructive passions.

There is something almost utopian in HR departments' grander ideas: a 24-hour anti-bullying hotline or a 360-degree career assessment.

These are the tools of an advanced civilisation taking politics to the next level. Contrived as the strategies instituted by HR people might seem, it is in fact their very artificiality that guarantees their success, for the laboured tone of away-day seminars allows workers manfully to protest that they have nothing whatsoever to learn from submitting to such disciplines.

Then, like guests at a house party who mock their host's suggestion of a round of Pictionary, they may be surprised to find themselves, as the game gets under way, able thereby to channel hostilities.

Home used to be associated with kindness and sympathy - and the workplace with cruelty and oppression. But there are times, on a Friday evening at 9pm, when my wife and I have said unkind things to one another, and when I have longed for someone from HR to walk in and suggest a group exercise.

Alain de Botton's latest book is The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work (Hamish Hamilton, £18.99).

Saturday, 11 July 2009

IDEO's guide to Human Centred Design

IDEO have just published a series of free guides to how they run Innovation Projects - they call it the Human Centered Design Toolkit. An absolute must for anyone serious about driving Innovation:

check out:

how to quit your job

If you are thinking of leaving your job, take a moment out to consider what Sarah Palin did.

We loved this piece in Harvard Business Review:

When former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin announced on Friday that she's resigning as governor of Alaska, I was all ears. Not only am I a political junkie, but since I quit my job last fall I've also become something of a student of unexpected resignations (I talk with a lot of quitters these days).

Beyond the basic publicity blunders Palin made (e.g., her spokesperson was on vacation in New York while the announcement was delivered in Alaska), the governor's departing speech was rife with errors of judgment. Every quitter, famous or not, can learn from her mistakes, particularly if you're resigning from a position of leadership.

  1. Palin made blaming others a centerpiece of her announcement. Justified as her claims of unfair treatment — especially by the media — might be, better to save them for a forthcoming book rather than air them at a moment when classiness would earn a lot more respect. Whining doesn't make for a very mellifluous swan song.

  2. She gave in to the temptation to grandstand. Palin asserted, over and over, the nobleness of her decision to resign right away rather than have Alaskans endure a lame duck governorship. Had there been deference and humility in the assertion, she might have carried it off. Instead, she cast it as the greatest of gifts from a selfless leader to her people. People don't have the stomach for grandeur when you're bailing out on them. (See my previous post, "How to Quit Your Job with Style.")

  3. Palin paid little mind to her successor. As a viewer, I hardly knew that Alaska's lieutenant governor, Sean Parnell, was standing next to Palin during her announcement. She barely referenced Parnell's readiness for the job and the continuity he'll bring. Sure, he got to speak after Palin, but offering extensive, reassuring remarks about him would have gone a long way to comfort Alaska's citizens.

  4. She was neither transparent nor coherent. For a public figure, complete transparency about every dimension of a decision to resign is not always possible. But what you do share should be clear. The parts of Palin's speech that focused on her reasons for leaving were so illogically structured and delivered that the central explanation remained elusive. A resignation is about as important a time as any to meticulously prepare your remarks, no matter how high or low your office.
Sarah Palin undoubtedly occupies a peculiar, even a unique, space in American life — one that few of us can ever imagine for ourselves. Nonetheless, the lessons to be learned from her resignation are many, beyond those just outlined. What lessons do you take from her announcement?

If you want to the link -

Leading Change Podcast

For the HR Community, the Recession has meant massive change management issues, as organisations are forced to adapt in focus and size to respond to the fluctuations in the world economy.

The CIPD Podcast on Change Management gives some great advice on how to manage change with real examples from industry (including Gate Gourmet, Xerox and NHS).

Part One looks at understanding the need for change

Part Two offers practical advice on how to implement change

Vision Quest

One of the things MOK is most proud of is a piece of work he did with Rachel Botsman around Vision for VisionQuest - formally the Scojo foundation. They provide affordable glasses for people in the developing world so they can move out of poverty.

Check out

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

What's going on ?


We've had a few emails asking what is going on and why no posts? Sorry it's been quiet! We are flat out at the moment - one in India and two of us in Southampton and then off to Holland next week!
We've missed so much - BA work for free? Women on the Board launch?

but we will be posting again soon1

Friday, 12 June 2009

What staff think of customers

I have run many a customer service day in my time and have served on a good few tills. Twice a year, at Sale time, I thank my lucky stars that I no longer work at Harrods.

I remember it was often hard to keep smiling whilst I looked forward to my fifteen minute break or my 11.30am lunch break.

But a piece in The Daily Mail had us all at The Innovation Beehive speechless. If you ever wanted to know what staff think of customers, click here

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

How to make a company idea generation scheme work

Watching I'm Loving Sainsbury's on Tuesday nights on Channel Four we got to thinking about lessons we could take from it. After a chat and a glass of wine, we came up with this:

We've distilled our 6 lessons here:

1) Great ideas come from the shop floor. Don't always run your idea generation sessions with functional folk in Marketing or HR. Your front line staff are closest to your customers and know what they really want.

2) Start small with a trial but put big metrics in place. Innovation is often accused of being wishy washy - only because we don't put the right measures on it.

3) Use Double Metrics - your idea must have commercial and customer benefit. Sainsbury's measured this weeks idea of "taking the store to the customer" through sales uplift and exit interviews.

4) Let the idea generators own and test the idea. Don't run away with it to Head Office - coach from there.

5) Prepare for all your assumptions to be challenged. This week the store host idea was initially a concern to Sainsbury's Customer Experience Manager. But the trial proved the double benefit was there.

6) If it is not working in trial, be ruthless. Don't demotivate the idea generators, but don't have a slow and painful death. On the reverse side, if it works, roll it out quickly before your competitor gets wind of it and does the same.

Sainsbury's Idea Generation Scheme

In tough times we are all looking for the next big idea. But how do we do it? And how do we make the ubiquitous idea generation scheme work?

If you are looking for inspiration, you have to look no further than Channel Four - I'm Running Sainsbury's.

In this weekly show, shop floor staff are invited to come up with ideas about how to make more money for Sainsbury's and get the chance to see their idea trialled on the shop floor.

For more information check it out on Tuesday nights on Channel 4 or go to

Now The Apprentice is over what else have we to watch on TV?

Monday, 8 June 2009

How to make ideas stick

So if you finally manage to have a great brainstorm and come up with some great ideas what do you do next?

One of the big things that we have heard from our clients is that it is the implementation that is the real challenge - how do we actually get things done?

Well, apart from building the complete The Innovation Beehive's Innovation system (creativity skills, re-enforcing mechanisms and leadership example) there are a few lessons to be learnt from Chip and Dan Heath,9171,1552029,00.html

we love the book "Made to Stick" and suggest you all put it on your reading lists!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

What HR should do in the recession

There was a great piece in The Sunday Times on how HR Leaders should take the lead in the recession

We have recently run two successful breakfasts on this topic so if you would like to hear our POV, scroll down or give us a buzz!

Building an Innovative Company Culture

Our friend, Paul Deeprose, at Career Gym sent us this. We thought we would pass it on!

March 11, 2009

How to . . . be innovative in the workplace

Make innovation a priority

1 “In this environment, innovation is a real challenge,” Penny de Valk, chief executive of the Institute of Leadership and Management, says. “We are seeing a number of organisations hunkering down.” Such behaviour is dangerous: companies that generate 80 per cent of their revenue from new products typically double their market capitalisation over a five-year period, she says.

Take risks and embrace failure

2 Ms de Valk defines innovation as “the successful exploitation of new ideas”. But to innovate requires many ideas that are unsuccessful. “You have to give people the freedom to fail and to fail fast,” she says. “That's a real challenge in a risk-averse culture.”

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Jaideep Prabhu, of the Judge Business School, Cambridge, says that the rule in pharmaceuticals — one in five molecules makes it to market — applies to other sectors. “Even then, one in three products is likely to fail after launch,” he says.

Eyes on the future

3 “Employees are so busy firefighting that they are blinkered,” Professor Prabhu says. “Step outside your situation and look to future opportunities and threats. Who will be your competitors and customers?” A study of internet banking in the United States looked at chief executives' letters to shareholders between 1991 and 1995. Those with the highest percentage of sentences about the future introduced new technology the fastest. “What made you successful in the past is not going to make you successful in the future,” Ms de Valk says.

Foster creativity at all levels

4 Jonathan Feinstein, of the Yale School of Management and author of The Nature of Creative Development, says: “Put yourself in the position where 'light-bulb moments' can happen. Give people freedom to define their creative interests and help to explore them.” Matt Brittin, the UK country director for Google, says that 20 per cent of employees' time is spent on individual projects. This practice enabled an engineer to notice that patterns in search terms could be used to track flu outbreaks. Ms de Valk says: “Don't just create a 'good ideas' culture, but decide which ones to put resources behind.”

Break the rules

5 Tamsin Davies, the head of innovation for Fallon, an advertising agency, says: “Think outside categories and be subversive. A clash of genres makes for different ideas. For the Cadbury's 'eyebrows' adverts we didn't think about chocolate but about 'what produces joy'.”

Collaborate across boundaries

6 Professor Feinstein says: “Get clients in a room with engineers or product managers.” Professor Prabhu advises getting divisions to compete: “Internal competition is a way of bringing the discipline of the market in-house.” Google involves users. Mr Brittin says: “Open-source software allows us to tap into a worldwide base of millions of software developers who help to improve the product.”

Think global

7 We are in a new “innovation world” where the US no longer dominates, John Kao, chairman of the Institute for Large Scale Innovation, writes in the Harvard Business Review. “High-tech start-ups can be 'born global' by availing themselves of talent, capital, R&D tax credits, regulatory relief and specialised facilities in such innovation hot-spots as Helsinki, Singapore and Shanghai.”

Act fast and keep refining

8 “We have a philosophy of trying to launch things early then get feedback,” Mr Brittin says. Although Google's search page may look the same, the company is constantly modifying its algorithms, he adds.

Cannibalise your own products

9 “Even when firms spot an opportunity, they may not seize it because it threatens the success of their own products and services,” Professor Prabhu says. Sony had the technical expertise to introduce MP3 players but was afraid of jeopardising the venerable Walkman, allowing Apple to get there first, he says, and Starbucks' venture into the instant-coffee market exemplifies a company turning cannibal.

Be ambitious

10 Innovation should focus on “making the competition irrelevant”, Ms de Valk says. She credits Cirque du Soleil, the acrobatic troupe, with reinventing the circus. Google never wanted to be “just a search engine” but to “organise the web”, allowing it to apply its technology broadly, Mr Brittin says.

World-beating innovators

1 Team Obama: turned an outside candidate into a “national brand”

2 Google: Search engine

3 Hulu: Video-streaming website

4 Apple: IT company

5 Cisco Systems: Designer and supplier of networking technology

6 Intel: Producer of silicon chip microprocessors for computers

7 Pure Digital Technologies: Makes simple digital camcorders

8 WuXi PharmaTech: A Chinese pharmaceutical research company

9 Amazon: Online shopping store

10 Ideo: Design consultancy

Source: Fortune, March 2009

Check out Paul's great business at:

tweeting beer
Oops the correct link for the tweeting bar!

We love this. If a beer key can do it, why not all of us?

Friday, 22 May 2009

Feel Good Drinks

We are really impressed by Feel Good Drinks new commercial, with gnomes showing how they make the drinks.

It was actually the brainchild of a consumer - Debbie. A great example of co-creating a brand.

Go Feel Good Drinks!

Check it out

Last Minute Dot Com Learning Culture

The Innovation Beehive delivered a speech this week to the team at Last Minute Dot Com. Our focus was on "How to build an Innovation Culture" and we have to say that they are going a long way to doing that themselves.

They are really using their environment to create a space that enables idea generation, from informal break out areas, to the learning library to the big pictures of holiday destinations on the walls, the place screams innovation and the LastMinute brand.

The speech we gave was part of a regular 'lunch and learn' session they run where guest speakers are invited in, employees given free sandwiches and knowledge is shared. It is set up by Kim who has the job title of "Mother of All Nests" whose remit is to drive innovation at Last Minute.

If you want to know more about what we said, or what Last Minute are doing....give us a buzz

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Laying off workers in times of crisis - a more strategic approach

We saw this article had been tweeted by Clare Flynn of

We love her website and are equally in love with this article

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

An Innocent way to manage your people

We had lots of emails about our posting on Innocent Drinks and, as promised, here is a bit more detail on the People side of the business.

Lesson One

Know what you are looking for:

Innocent are really clear on who they want in the business. They have borrowed a line from Jim Collins and want to get the right people on the bus (see “Good to Great” for more detail). As at Google, the founding team personally signs off each new recruit. They admit “it slows down the hiring process a little, but we’ve found that when it comes to recruitment, if you act in haste you repent a leisure”

Innocent look for very strong Values fit and look for examples on candidates CV’s of where they have demonstrated the Innocent Values. Crucially, they don’t only take work related examples into account; working with local communities, setting up a business as a teenager or coaching a local sporting team are seen as equally relevant for selection criteria.

Like all of us they are concerned with testing a candidate’s Capabilities, and they set practical challenges to test they have the right skills. These tests also seek out the candidate’s latent capability and test if they have the skill to think round a problem and learn as they go along

They also have an interesting point of view on Experience. At a junior level they don’t always look for previous experience (“we know energy, commitment and smarts can…compensate”) but with senior hires they are clear that previous experience is a must.

Lesson Two

Finding what you’re looking for:

Out and about and on the road, the guys and girls at Innocent take every opportunity to talk up the business. Check out their labels – they see them as the best for of advertising. And if you don’t find who you are looking for in HR, remember your employees have friends so they offer at finders fee of between £2000 and £5000.

Lesson Three

Keeping people on the bus:

Everyone in Innocent had five objectives, written up on a piece of paper. Feedback, good and bad, is given “in the moment” and they are rigorous about their performance review process.

They invest heavily in staff training. The Innocent Academy is written and delivered by people at Innocent (itself a development opportunity), there are opportunities to study for a ‘craft’ skill that is relevant to the job and a more formal programme to fund part time MBA’s etc.

We all know what gets rewarded gets done. Innocent have a four-tier remuneration and profit scheme.

1) A profit related pay scheme (if Innocent makes money, so do the employees)
2) Stock options given to employees on completion of one year’s service
3) The Nest Egg – an opportunity to buy shares in the company at a heavily discounted rate
4) Pay is reviews once a year and based on individual performance

The guys in Fruit Towers are relentless about communication. There is a weekly Monday morning 9am meeting, monthly company performance updates and a big quarterly meeting. There is also a company wiki where information is shared. They are big on consultation and major decisions, such as should they sell smoothies in McDonalds, are debated amongst the entire company.

Lesson Four

Do the soft stuff

They want to keep Innocent a great place to spend 40 hours a week. This includes offering everything from a healthy free breakfast, the Innocent scholarship that gives people £1000 to go off and do something they have always dreamed of, big nights out and free yoga on Wednesday.

Thrown in with this are free healthcare, free smoothies and free massages, award ceremony (we loved the idea of Lord and Lady of the Sash) and an annual event called Nature Weekend, where everyone decamps for an adventure abroad.

In summary, they say

“Focus on the important stuff. Share the big ambitions throughout the business, get people figuring out how they can do their bit to make it happen, and be completely transparent with everyone about their role and performance. If people know whey they’re on the bus and how they’re doing, they’ll enjoy the ride a whole lot more”

So looking at what they do, we are sure that you probably do some of it already. At The Innovation Beehive, we believe that Innocent does it so well for two main reasons. They truly believe in what they do and they execute it consistently. Ask yourself how do you measure up to that?

If you want innovative ways to engage and reward your people, give us a buzz and let’s see if we can help…. Or at least we can have a cup of tea and a chat

We love this website. Don't throw anything away, don't buy anything new, check this out first:

Monday, 11 May 2009

Lessons from Star Trek

We saw this in Fast Company and thought it was brilliant!

Lessons from The Enterprise

Between liaisons with Pantone hued alien females, conflicts with empire-building cyborg killing machines, and encounters on new planets that always results in the death of a red shirted security officer, koans of management advice are routinely delivered from the bridge of the Enterprise.

There are great lessons to be learned from the words of these men who sit in the Captain's chair. Apply the wisdom of Starfleet's finest to your strange new world of business and you too will manage well and prosper.

Be a Leader

"The man on top walks a lonely street; the 'chain' of command is often a noose." -Capt. James Tiberius Kirk

"One of the advantages of being Captain is being able to ask for advice without necessarily having to take it." -Kirk

Taunt Your Rival

"Khan. Khan, you've got Genesis. But you don't have me! You're going to kill me Khan, you're going to have to come down here. You're going to have to come down here." -Kirk

Allow Subordinates to Speak Freely

"If I may be so bold, it was a mistake for you to accept promotion. Commanding a starship is your first, best, destiny. Anything else is a waste of material." -Spock, to Kirk


"As captain of this ship, I'm the one who's responsible for everyone aboard. There aren't many people I'd willingly turn that responsibility over to. You're one of 'em." -Capt. Jonathan Archer to Phlox, the ship's physician

Plan Ahead

"We must anticipate, and not make the same mistake once." -Capt. Jean-Luc Picard

Set Realistic Goals

"Not one hundred percent efficient, of course...but nothing ever is." -Kirk

"Genius doesn't work on an assembly line basis. You can't simply say, 'Today I will be brilliant.'" -Kirk


"A meeting is an event where minutes are taken and hours wasted." -Kirk


"Intuition, however illogical, is recognized as a command prerogative." -Kirk


"Without freedom of choice there is no creativity" -Kirk

"Things are only impossible until they're not." -Picard