OTC 2017: Effective communication: the first stage of innovation

2nd May 2017

I once heard a presenter explain that he tries to improve everything he does, right down to the way he drives to work every day. As a BMW driver myself, I personally cannot think of a way to improve my driving standard…but can I improve in my job? Can I be more innovative?


As engineers, we are here to solve industry problems; delivering safe and effective technology that supports our customers to deliver on their respective challenges.  However with increasing cost and resource pressures, are we spending enough time innovating?


A recent article by Scott Kerr captured the importance of this in relation to the supply chain, including (amongst other areas) the need to invest in new technology. 


“…..and we need to be more offensive in developing and acquiring new technology ……. Innovative companies are already moving ahead. And those who are standing still and waiting might want to read up on the fate of two famous late accepters, Nokia and Kodak. Consider this a wake up call.”


We must create and embed a culture of innovation within our companies to ensure we aren’t the ‘late accepters’ left behind.  I’m fortunate to work for a company that has a great history of innovation, pioneering some of the earliest well testing in the UK that set the foundations for our global expansion into the subsea, well intervention and production markets. However this requires continued effort and investment, which is undoubtedly challenging given the increased pressure on time, resources and budgets.  To address this, Expro is focussing effort on facilitating innovation and supporting employees throughout a more structured process.


Equally I believe we must take individual responsibility and make time. Alongside my position within Group Engineering, I volunteer for SPE Aberdeen’s Technical and Young Professionals sections.  This combines a range of technical and non-technical presentations and seminars that support people in developing the right network, skills and expertise to drive personal performance within their careers. I’d strongly encourage others to participate in these types of events. Learning from other aspects of the industry (or other industries) may even provide a catalyst for a new innovative idea.


In my opinion, our ability to communicate effectively (something we often undervalue) has a significant impact on our ability to innovate. The importance of effective communication was summed up nicely by Bruce Dickinson from the hugely successful band, Iron Maiden, when he headlined the recent P&J Gold Awards. He uses an old (non-smart!) phone and swears by it. Not just because the battery life is better than an iPhone, but because he believes picking up the phone and speaking to people is more effective than multiple emails or texts.


Start with communication. Providing we can get this right, we can improve and become more innovative. It is up to the company to ensure the infrastructure is in place to turn an innovative idea into something real, but it is also up to our people to show their commitment. This way we can avoid making the mistake of failing to respond to innovation.

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