What is growth? At first, it seems like a fairly simple question to answer for most businesses. Increased revenue streams, better profit margins, greater efficiency and innovation, as well as physical size are all fairly standard measures of how successfully a business is growing. However, this question becomes infinitely more complex when other factors are added into the equation: Is all business growth stable and sustainable? How does our growth as a business compare to our competitors? How is our growth as a business affected by macroeconomic factors?
In 1990, the UK was about to enter a decade that would transform domestic industry and business. Margaret Thatcher left office in November, the end of a premiership in which huge swathes of Britain’s manufacturing industry, from cars to household goods, had been privatised and moved offshore. Bott was only a small company at this point, but the aim of producing workplace storage of exceptional quality, a product that was ‘built to last’, would become a core ideal in the growth and development of the business over the next 25 years.
During this period, developing a successful business that relied on products engineered and manufactured in the UK was far from a straightforward task. There was little faith in British industry and further blows to the economy, particularly the forced withdrawal of the pound from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) on what came to be known as Black Wednesday, left the economy in a particularly precarious state.
Creating a product that we are proud to call Built to Last is often a challenging and complex process. In order to cater for a range of clients, each of whom have a series of unique technical requirements for their vehicles, a rigorous and comprehensive series of bench tests are used to ensure unimpeachable quality. Perhaps one of the most interesting challenges we’ve faced when designing solutions for a variety of industries is that of powering auxiliary electrical systems; Ensuring that the battery in the back of the van designed to run tools and devices is charged effectively, without compromising the vehicle’s own battery.
Innovation is a much hyped word, you don’t need to read far in the business press or media to be exhorted to innovate; but what actually is innovation? And how do you do it well? To quote Management writer, Peter Drucker:
“Innovation is the specific tool of entrepreneurs, the means by which they exploit change as an opportunity for a different business or service. It is capable of being presented as a discipline, capable of being learned, capable of being practiced.” (Drucker and Drucker, 2007)
This quote argues that as the wider environment changes, organisations need to change their offer to match customer requirements, therefore firms need to develop capabilities to innovate and manage these changes.
For us at Bott, our challenge is to act in an entrepreneurial way, exploiting change to create solutions which satisfy the needs of our customers. As argued in the quote, the actions involved in doing this can be learnt as a discipline and process. The scope of this subject is huge but in this blog we’ll just touch on some of the principles which drive our innovation strategy and give some useful examples of innovation.