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What Goes ‘In’ To Innovation?

Being innovative isn’t just about having a great idea; it takes time, effort and enthusiasm. It's just as much about the research that goes on behind the scenes, as it is about the development of a product, and then the marketing around it.

I was reading Sir Alex Ferguson’s biography over the Christmas period. You may love him or hate him, but what you cannot do is take away his record of success – more importantly, how he was able to sustain that success for 27 years with Manchester United. His secret was to adapt and change: to innovate.

What relevance has football to washrooms? Everything, would be my response. It’s not the fact it's football, or Sir Alex, but the message that at the very core of his success are his ethics, culture, and sustainability. So, before we continue, let us further define what it means to be innovative.

Innovation refers to the application of improved solutions that meet and/or exceed new requirements or legislation and existing market requirements. This is made possible through creating more effective products, methods, services, technologies or concepts. The term innovation can be defined as something unique and new that ‘penetrates’ or ‘creates’ the market or society.

Here are our five points to remember to ensure innovation can happen:

• Challenge the ordinary: For innovation to prosper, we should


look beyond issues that we generally accept on a day to day basis and focus on what causes them and how they can be fixed or improved. Use the common cliché and ‘think outside the box’ – don’t just settle for conventional methods or ideas. This is the first, important step in being innovative.

• Combine thoughts: Work with people that have a vision and input about the specific topic at hand, listen to those directly affected by the topic and learn how to make the most of their thoughts. Innovation requires more than one brain at times, however not too many brains, as this can confuse your innovative idea (too many cooks do still spoil the broth).

• Keep trying: It doesn’t hurt to push even if, at times, you think you’re pushing water uphill. Don’t rest on your laurels; always move forward with your innovation, because you never know who is watching or how somebody might think about your idea.

• Be open to learning new things: To be innovative, you will have to open your mind to learning as much as possible and be prepared to adapt your own original idea. You learn new things on a daily basis, even if you think you’re an expert on the product or process you have developed or have thought about.

• Test for perfection: If you are to successfully launch your innovation, you must test it even once it has been proven. Go on, be a perfectionist; testing allows

Paul Wonnacott, Managing Director of Vectair Systems, discusses the ins and outs of ‘innovation’, and what it should mean to the industry as a whole.

you to figure out little amendments that you didn’t know existed, and helps your innovation become the revolution it was meant to be.

Without continual investment in product design, research and tooling, and the people that make these innovations happen, we cannot hope to adapt to the ever-increasing changes in our market, and the stringent demands expected from our valued customers.

Not only have we recognised a continual need to innovate and introduce new concepts and systems, but we also constantly try to improve the quality of what we deliver. For example, our new V-Screen® urinal screen, which offers an effective means of keeping drains and urinals free flowing, whilst combating odour control between washroom cleaning visits, is both cost effective and easy to use. We have taken a simple concept (a net to catch debris), incorporated an innovative design, and developed it into something that is affordable yet really works!

And that folks, is what innovation is all about.

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