Open Transport as an Innovation case study

Our Founder, Hayden Sutherland, was recently interviewed by a University student on the topic of innovation.

Here are the questions & answers provided:

Q1 : Did you use a specific innovation model or follow a process when carrying out your innovation?

A1: When originally coming up with the original idea, there was no specific model or approach used. However, to get this idea to actually become the reality of an accepted & published Open Standard, there was an established process to go through:

  • Collate a pool of experts from as wide & diverse group as possible to create a “straw man” concept of the specifications
  • Invite others to participate in workshops and an online community to evolve the specifications
  • Publish the draft specifications
  • Issue an open invitation to provide input and general feedback from the entire international community (if you want nice feedback ask a friend, but if you want real criticism … ask an enemy)
  • In addition, and to get the widest possible reach and honestly, an event was organised by MaaS Scotland (the industry body for the transport and mobility sector in Scotland) where I got to present my latest specification and future direction to my peers. This “technical Dragons Den” was very useful as many different specialists got to: listen in full, ask specific questions and even bounce ideas of each other to challenge the draft spec. This all helped to refine the detail and really ratify the work that had been done
  • Publish the specifications as an official version (v1.0) of the Open Standards, along with content on their free usage and a clear process for requesting changes and improvements in the future.

Q2: How did you make decisions throughout the process? Did you use any models here?

A2: There were no set models used for decision making. But from the beginning and throughout the entire process I was very aware that a potential barrier to us achieving the best decisions was if they were made by just one person (me). To therefore make certain this did not happen, I ensured I was significantly guided, challenged and helped by a wide group of industry specialists, who are each experts in their field or mode of transport. The most foolish thing would have been to have brought together a group of people who were all specialists and then not continually listen, ask, consult and more generally work with them.

Q3: Did the culture of the group support innovation?

A3: Yes, the group’s culture was particularly important and this really helped to get the standards published in such a comparatively short space of time.
If you want to get the best out of people (and I wanted to, see answer 2 above), you have to ensure that they have all the right inputs, cues or data (e.g. a firm understanding of when this innovation will and will not be used or applicable) and also are able to speak their mind and develop the ideas of the others in the group.

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