Solving the innovation contradiction

This is an event in the Corporate Wisdom Lecture series taking place at Leeds University Business School on Tuesday 14 November 2017

Photos from the event are now available to view on the Business School Flickr channel

The Professor Chris Clegg Memorial Lecture 

David Knott
Former Chief (retired)
Research & Technology and Implementation
Design Systems Engineering at Rolls Royce

Innovation is a universal corporate aspiration, and yet it is also a contradiction. In the long-term it is essential to survival, but in the short-term it can make survival more difficult. Innovation is not one contradiction but many, and it is these that can make innovation so elusive. Organisations have conflicting motivations when it comes to innovation – they want to innovate, to stay ahead of the competition, but at the same time they do not want to change anything, because change is risky and expensive. 

In this lecture David Knott will share insights and suggest solutions to these contradictions gained over a career in which he has been an inventor; innovator; innovation leader and manager of innovation. He will use an “Innovation Equation” to explore what Innovation is from a holistic perspective; give an overview of the “Theory of Inventive Problem Solving” (TRIZ), that he championed for over a decade; and introduce the concept of “Innovation Playing Fields”, to show why some innovations are more difficult than others.

Event format

17:45 Registration in the Business School foyer
18:15 Presentation followed by Q&A in Lecture Theatre G.02
19:15 Networking and refreshments in the Business School foyer
20:00 Close

About the speaker

David worked for Rolls-Royce plc for 39 years rising to become a Senior Manager responsible for a portfolio of innovation projects. As Chief of Research & Technology – Design Systems Engineering he led a global network of multi-disciplinary specialists, researchers and developers, in academia and industry, developing software tools and processes to improve the Engineering Design process used globally within Rolls-Royce.

Graduating with a First in Mechanical Engineering from Loughborough University David spent the first half of his career as an Engineering Designer and Team Leader in gas turbine New Product Introduction. As a Design Team Leader on the Trent engine he generated two patents that became “High Value Patent Award Winners” at the Rolls-Royce “Chairman’s Awards for Technical Innovation”. The second half of his career has been in the field of research and technology aimed at delivering innovations in the product, process and tools domains. He has worked at the interface between academia and industry for 20 years.

David is a Fellow of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, who loves creative problem solving, and has generated 28 patent applications. He first came across the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) over 20 years ago, and subsequently championed TRIZ within Rolls-Royce, as part of a Holistic Innovation Strategy. He has facilitated a wide range of TRIZ problem solving workshops, and trained hundreds of engineers in the TRIZ methodology. He is now a TRIZ Consultant for Oxford Creativity, and runs his own consultancy business. 

He is a Church Elder and an aspiring potter with a desire to create “beauty born of purpose”, by letting “form follow function”. He has a long way to go.