Virgin Galactic: Innovation Tips

Yesterday I attended the BlackBerry Innovation Forum 2010, London.  With the theme “Love Big Ideas” and the reference to “Innovation” I thought I might be enlightened on how BlackBerry drive innovation and create those big ideas – silly me.

After sitting through what was the equivalent of The Truman Show where BlackBerry repeated how great they are and launched their counter punch to the iPad – the PlayBook – (a somewhat contradiction to their target market professional corporate),  finally a guest arrived on stage in jeans and a casual top to talk about Innovation.

Welcome Will Whitehorn President of Virgin Galactic…No fan fair of advertisements on BlackBerry’s impressive double stage, just pure passion and finally something worth adding to my so far blank notepad.

It was somewhat good to hear that Richard Branson doesn’t do market research because he says you would never innovate, you need to think what people might want.  The famous quote that comes to my mind here is from Henry Ford “If I asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse”.  (Ben Hayes has written a small blog on this which covers my thoughts on this subject.)

Anyway back to innovation, it is absolutely amazing what Will Whitehorn and his team are achieving – the world’s first commercial spaceship and spaceport (based in the desert of New Mexico) if you are interested in booking a seat into space you can find out more here.  Will points out the 4 key areas that he thinks needs to be in place to be innovative:

  • Lead from the front and empower all levels to think new ways
  • Risk taking BUT as you can imagine in space travel this has got to be controlled
  • A process to capture new ideas, and events held to generate these
  • Reward innovation and celebrate success

This Sunday night will see the first solo space drop of SpaceShipTwo and then left to glide back to earth, a very brave pilot indeed.

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