At last, the IdeaLab has taken off in the exotically named ‘Tower Block’ of Manchester Airport!
Earlier this year I helped a handful of Managers from Manchester Airport Group to pick the winning design for a new “Innovation Space” at the Airport. The brainchild of MAG Innovation and Knowledge Manager, Jayne Mehta, IdeaLab is a place within the Airport campus, but away from most regular offices, where teams can hold meetings, workshops and brainstorming sessions or just get time away from their desk to think through a new project or challenge. It should be noted that the room can be used by all staff, from customer services to Air Traffic Control, and is not just for the privileged few.
We picked the proposal from Megan Davies, a young Interior Design undergrad at Sheffield Hallam as the winner. Her presentation was polished, clear and confident, and I’m sure that success in this competition will be great for her portfolio and CV.
It’s a fairly simple and low tech solution, but it’s an effective transformation of underused traditional office block space.
One half of the room is full of bright citrus colours with curved modular seating and flowing patterns on the ‘white board’ walls, the suggestion being that this is the creative space for your brainstorming sessions. The other half is more blues and purples with squares and grid-iron patterns and is notionally where you might plan implementation and delivery.
Will the colours and patterns will lead to more ‘Innovation? I don’t know. I do know, however, that giving staff a new place to meet, discuss and share ideas can only be good for morale, internal communication and knowledge exchange. Congratulations to Jayne, Camille Rubin and colleagues at the airport for overcoming ash clouds and recessions to get this off the ground.
At today’s launch, MAG Chief Executive Charlie Cornish said that innovation will be key to the growth and continuing improvement of Airport business. By Innovation, he doesn’t just mean technology, though with Rapiscan MAG are technological leaders in Airport Security, but he simply means ‘doing things differently to make things better’ whether that’s wooden walking sticks on hand to help people through security gates, personalised flight updates from @manairport, or innovative use of data for improved marketing. He said “We consider innovation to be key in the future of our business, and the more people we can get involved in that the better”
Each quarter MAG Management Team will pose staff with an ‘Innovation Challenge‘. The current call asks ”How to improve the car park experience” and the individual or team with the winning idea can chose from 2 weeks valet parking per year for the rest of their working life, £200 for a team night out, or £200 in shopping vouchers. It’s fantastic to see a large business like MAG putting their money where their mouth is – I hope they get some top flight results!