Working within Ciba and BASF and with external contacts such as P&G, Beiersdorf, Lawter, Akzo-Nobel, Sun Chemical and other ink makers, Sopheon and Leeds University, I have developed an understanding of how Companies innovate - what can go wrong and what tools and techniques can be used to avoid or deal with these pitfalls.
Why the jester's hat is the perfect symbol for our role boosting innovation.
Our choice of a jester's hat as our logo ties in with our view of the challenging, enjoyable and creative nature of our role working with our clients.
Imagine you are a king in a medieval court. You are the supreme ruler and your word goes. But, being a sensible person, you realise that you are not always entirely right about everything. How do you ensure that you have someone who is willing and able to challenge your decisions? Enter the Jester. While his main job was to entertain, the Jester traditionally was given some leeway to highlight flaws in arguments or to challenge conventionally held views - a little like political satirists today. And in medieval pageants, the Jester often represented the devil. Take these aspects together and he can be seen as playing a vital Devil's Advocate role.
We see the role of a consultant as being something similar. The consultant should be willing, and allowed, to challenge the conventional wisdom in companies he works with, in order to help bring them to a better understanding of their needs, wants and capabilities.
But it is not all about challenging views, there is also a strong element of fun to it - again like the Jester. This is key to the innovation process. If people are not having fun, they are likely to be less creative.
Like the Jester, though, we take our creative process and our audience seriously. In planning and developing a workshop (whether for problem-solving, idea generation or culture change) the consultant has to act like a theatre director. He has to be aware of his audience, he has to understand how his "actors" will interact and, above all, he has to know the message that has to be delivered and how best to deliver it.