The need for cross-pollination to drive innovation

We’re fortunate to attract exceptional talent into the business and on Friday we were sad to say goodbye to Rosie Minikin as she completed her graduate placement with us and moved on to experience life in another part of the Engine Group. Here’s what Rosie took away from her time with us at Transform.

The need for cross-pollination to drive innovation

Having heard that Transform was a hive of activity, equipping its new starters with responsibility on large scale projects, I expected to be a busy bee. Yet only once I’d begun my placement as a consultant did I appreciate the importance of cross-pollination to this field.

Engine’s Graduate Scheme allows us to rotate through four of its different agencies, acquiring skills in anything from social media to data to sponsorship to PR. As the year progresses, we’ll gain a much richer understanding of how each of these fits into, and influences, the bigger picture. This is not your average advertising grad scheme.

In many ways, Transform’s approach to business is a microcosm of Engine’s mantra. Then again, Transform is not your average consultancy. Bringing together an eclectic collection of experts from all sorts of backgrounds allows us to respond to problems surfacing in a range of industries – health, retail, financial and public services to name a few. But further than this, Transform’s unique culture of fluidity means that retail experts are not kept exclusively on retail projects. Giving consultants the chance to learn something about these diverse sectors is not just smart – it’s essential.

Knowing who’s doing what well is a key part of suggesting what a competitive edge actually looks like. But why should this remain sector-specific? Entire industries are at vastly different stages in their adoption of different aspects of digital. It follows then, that knowing how brilliantly some retailers and banks are streamlining the customer to what they need could turbo-boost the speed at which entire sectors catch up.

Public healthcare and administration have a long way to go before delivery of complex inpatient aftercare can be as easy as tracking a shipped purchase in real time, but Barclays managed to slim down the entire money transfer process to entering a single mobile number. Seemingly mammoth tasks can be, and are being, accomplished. It’s up to us to keep our eyes open to these milestones, and apply the lessons learnt in the most intuitive way possible.

Sure, silo-ing expertise can be efficient, but boy does it limit innovation. As we are increasingly directed towards information deemed relevant to us, it is more important than ever to make sure we continue to engage with information outside our usual remit. Off-piste might seem daunting, but it can be a far more exciting way to approach a problem.

Attending the Future Fast Consumers Conference brought together insights from seemingly unrelated topics: innovations influencing the future of supermarkets, how the shopping habits of older women have moved on… Yet each of these talks was able to illuminate one of our projects in a new way. Fashion blogging and home decorating store space have little in common, right? Apparently not.

For me, it was akin to that scene in the Matrix, when Keanu Reeves sees the surface of his surroundings peeled back, and everything around him as a series of numbers. If you are able to see how these social behaviours link up and influence each other, you can find an answer to any problem in the most unlikely of places. So next time you hear something new, why not try to find these links, reapply it in a way that is meaningful to a new group of people. Essentially, the core principle that made each innovation mentioned at the conference successful remains the same: know your audience, deeply.