One of my favourite definitions of the word Innovation is this:
"Innovation is simply solving problems in new ways"
Inherent in this very simple definition is the idea that we are capable of identifying a challenge and synthesising a solution without being restricted by "the way things are always done". It's a subtle shift in mindset that allows anybody, in any role, to apply a fresh approach to a challenge.
A great example of this was demonstrated at our offices in Marly, France.
During the height summer heat Eric Destoop, IT and General Services Manager for Lyreco France, was watching a grounds worker mow the grass that surrounds the carpark.
Eric thought that there had to be a better way of managing the lawns, and one that could require less reliance on noisy power tools.
In Eric's words, "I immediately thought of sheep or goats, and started looking for a partner, and found an association that helps people in difficulty".
I immediately thought of sheep or goats, and started looking for a partner, and found an association that helps people in difficulty
In one solution, Eric was able to contribute to a social enterprise, Espoir Avenir an organisation that helps people get back into work, help save a rare bread of sheep from extinction (Mouton d'Ouessan) and find an environmentally beneficial solution to maintaining the grassy areas of the Lyreco campus.
Innovation is often conflated with the latest technology and with start-ups. Whilst new technology is often part of the mix, real innovation lies in a cultural attitude, an approach.
A true innovator is someone who has a willingness to recognise a challenge, the desire to want to do something about it and the resilience to pursue a solution even if it leads them away from the obvious path.
Other Lyreco offices are now looking at how they can adopt a similar approach, and Eric is investigating how Lyreco France can expand the area managed by our new mouton.