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The Alchemy of Innovation – conference, 22 February 2000, London


Innovation demands that we live with contradiction. Whether we are establishing a new order of things or creating new sources of customer satisfaction, innovation calls for playfulness and experience; inspiration and hard work; expert knowledge and creative unknowing. The alchemist’s quest – the conjunction of opposites in the white heat of transformation – stands for all our attempts to make things new.

This conference combines provocative ideas and powerful case studies to illuminate the most challenging of organisational disciplines. It offers a remarkable range of perspectives in the quest for innovation: from inventing to marketing, from project management to corporate knowledge systems, from brand leverage to the latest insights of complexity theory.

Designed For
Chief executives, managing directors, directors of innovation, knowledge officers, project managers, research and development specialists.

Alan Barker, Associate Consultant, The Industrial Society
Alan has worked as a learning consultant for over ten years. He is the author of several books, including Creativity for Managers, published by The Industrial Society.

Keynote speaker:

Arthur Battram, Visiting Innovation Consultant, The Industrial Society Arthur Battram is a thinker, writer and teacher in the fields of strategy, change, knowledge management and participation. He coaches senior management teams in the ‘complexity perspective’. He is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences, and is a visiting lecturer and research associate at Aston Business School, Warwick University and the Poon Kam Kai Institute of Management, Hong Kong. Arthur is author of Navigating Complexity: the essential guide to complexity theory in business and management, published by The Industrial Society.


Kevin Byron, Manager of Technology Communications, Nortel Networks Harlow Laboratories
Kevin Byron has spent over twenty years with teams at Harlow working at the forefront of technology innovation. He has published some sixty papers and forty patents.

Sarah Dixon, Company Innovation Manager, Van den Bergh Foods Sarah Dixon was educated at Oxford University and in the corporate cultures of Brooke Bond and Unilever. She was closely involved in the development and launch of the PG Tips Pyramid Bag.

Simon Sholl, Planning and Development Director, Siebert Head
Simon Sholl works as a brand communications consultant. Simon has had a varied career in advertising, product development, financial services and latterly brand consultancy and design.

Peter Matthews, Chairman, Pelican Portfolio
Peter Matthews worked in the water industry for almost 40 years and was the first Director of Innovation in the UK. He is as well known for knowledge and change management as he is for water management.

Peter Fryer Chief Executive, Humberside TEC with Frances Storr, Chartered Occupational Psychologist, Humberside TEC Peter has had several management jobs and a seven year spell as a management trainer. He is currently working with the London School of Economics exploring the organisation as a complex evolving system.


0930 Registration Coffee/Tea

1000 Welcome and introduction
Chair Alan Barker, Associate Consultant, The Industrial Society

1015 The ecology of innovation
Natural systems innovate constantly, they adapt, learn, survive and develop, all at once. Major multinational companies have been learning from natural systems for some years. They don't know it all, but they can give some shrewd guesses in response to these questions:

- What are the new rules of this new game?
- How do we develop innovation tomorrow when the market wants it yesterday?
- How can we plan? What can our strategy possibly be?
- What does collaboration mean in this new world?
- What are the right questions?
Arthur Battram, Visiting Innovation Consultant, The Industrial Society

1100 Coffee/tea

1115 Cycles of innovation: creativity teams in action
Nortel’s Harlow laboratories have a proud history of invention and innovation, including several of the ground-breaking technologies that ushered in the telecommunications revolution.

In this presentation Kevin will discuss how innovation processes have changed in recent years and the factors that affect the timing of innovation. He will also give case studies illustrating the current approaches to innovation in the rapidly accelerating world of telecommunications.
Kevin Byron, Manager of Technology Communications, Nortel Networks Harlow

1200 The challenge of integration: designing projects to innovate
Van den Bergh is Unilever's biggest food company in the UK. It operates a project-based culture that seeks to innovate by applying simple rules to complex situations. Innovation projects demand teams which combine the 'soft' skills of creativity and intuition with the 'harder' techniques of market research, measurement and risk analysis. Sarah explores the challenge of integration and identifies some simple ways forward.
Sarah Dixon, Company Innovation Manager, Van den Bergh Foods

1245 Lunch and an opportunity to network

1345 Shaking off the straitjacket: from reactive to innovative marketing Not many people would choose to make love in a straitjacket. Uncomfortable, cumbersome and boring – and the failure rate would be unacceptably high. Much of British marketing is working in an environment where creativity is often regarded with suspicion or outright derision.
- What hampers creativity in marketing and product development?
- What are the social, educational and cultural forces underlying these factors?
- What are the solutions, both short- and long-term?
From a perspective of brand consultancy in an aggressive market, Simon offers a challenging view of an industry too often unquestioninglyaccepted as ‘creative’.
Simon Sholl, Planning and Development Director, Siebert Head

1430 Are wise people the best innovators? Knowledge management and innovation
Anglian Water has gained a considerable reputation in recent years as a leader in innovation and knowledge management.

Data and experience must be converted into information. Proper interpretation of information creates knowledge. Beneficial use of knowledge is wisdom. The insight of wisdom allows creativity to occur. Innovation is the beneficial exploitation of creativity. It provides the new data and experience to allow the process to continue.

Peter will describe practical experiences that can provide some new insights and managerial models.
Peter Matthews, Chairman, Pelican Portfolio

1515 Coffee/Tea

1530 There once was an ugly duckling: nurturing the ecology of knowledge Organisations continue to be surprised by the unpredictable. No wonder: they are traditionally organised according to principles ofpredictability, reductionism and cause and effect. New called complex adaptive systems provide a radical new metaphor of the organisation.

Peter Fryer and Frances Storr present a lively challenge to the way we manage. They ask some fundamental questions.
- Why do change programmes so often fail, yet rumour spreads so quickly?
- Why do we run organisations in ways so totally at odds with the rest of our lives?
- How can we share information at the edges of organisations?
- Why should Chief Executives brush up their story-telling?
Peter Fryer, Managing Director, Humberside TEC; Frances Storr, Humberside

1615 Open forum questions and answers

1645 End of Conference


Member: £350 plus £61.35 VAT = £411.25
Non-member: £420 plus £73.50 VAT = £493.50

Any Questions?

For any enquiries about the venue, availability, or to book please contact our Bookings Unit on 0870 400 1000.
For enquiries about the content of the conference, please contact Julie Amber on 0171 479 1000.
Quoting Ref: CONIN

Visit the Industrial Society website at


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