Necessity – the Mother of Invention

Hello bloggers

So, who was the originator of this well-know phrase? You have to go back into the annals of history to find the answer… it was Plato the Greek author and philosopher writing in The Republic in Athens (427 BC – 347 BC).

The phrase may well be over 2,300 years old but I suggest it’s as appropriate to our contemporary situation as it was all that time ago…

…as we face tremendously challenging times, post-election, to reduce the cost of public service expenditure we’ll need to consider ever-increasingly inventive ways of service delivery.

With all these thoughts whirling round in my head faster than my washing machine’s 1400 spin cycle, I was suddenly struck this week by the launch of a new business scheme – ‘Business Thinking’ sponsored by HSBC Bank. HSBC has committed to supporting the growth of UK businesses by offering the UK’s best business thinkers the chance to share in £90 million lending plus a financial reward of up to £100,000 each by sharing creative thoughts and business solutions. The scheme is deliberately designed to encourage inventive thinking in the business community to enable the UK to compete effectively within the hyper-competitive global economy as we emerge from recession.

Taking a leaf from Michael E Porter’s ground-breaking book Competive Strategy, the HSBC-led scheme is seeking to sow the seeds of competitive advantage – necessity being the mother of invention. In other words, create something different that the consumer wants and you have a competitive advantage over your rivals.

Whilst competitive advantage is a private-sector, profit-making, concept it also struck me that in the public sector we could usefully adopt a similar scheme to ‘Business Thinking’ to generate, stimulate and share ideas about how to provide transformed public services. The Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) has made a start with their communities of practice guides. Gillian Hibberd and I were speaking this week to incoming IDeA chief executive, Rob Whiteman, about transformation issues, including Total Place and I mentioned ‘Business Thinking’ during our discussions.

Personally I think ‘time and tide wait for no man’ to quote another well-know phrase…the earliest known record of which is from St Marher in 1225.

So what do you think?


By | 2017-07-30T12:23:35+01:00 May 4th, 2010|Categories: Dean Shoesmith|0 Comments

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