Scottish experience kick starts workplace innovation in Portugal from Eduard Iacob's blog

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Scottish experience kick starts workplace innovation in Portugal

More than 60 Portuguese company representatives took part in an interactive workshop held in Porto where the experiences of two Scottish businesses were used to demonstrate the beneficial outcomes of workplace innovation and employee-led change.

The workshop was facilitated by UK based Workplace Innovation Europe Limited who introduced Doug Johnston, General Manager at DS Smith’s Lockerbie operation and Dundee based David O’Byrne from animal pharmaceutical business, Argenta.

Both companies have recently participated in Scottish Enterprise’s Workplace Innovation Engagement Programme (WIEP) which sought to help Scottish businesses introduce people centred change and action planning based on a novel combination of individual learning and development, peer-to-peer exchange of knowledge and experience, and on-site coaching and facilitation.

The workshop marked the launched of a ‘Portuguese Organisational Innovation Community of Practice’ with the aim of creating a high profile coalition of organisations who will promote the concept of workplace innovation amongst Portuguese companies.

It was supported by a number of high profile public and private sector bodies including employers’ organisations, chambers of commerce, universities and public sector agencies including the Portuguese National Innovation Agency.

Facilitator Peter Totterdill said: “It was a very inspiring and interactive event where we managed to keep up some real energy in the room throughout the day. The experiences that Dave and Doug brought to the workshop gave the delegates real food for thought and were really enthusiastically received."

“Dave talked about the real culture change at Argenta created by engaging people in organisational redesign and breaking down silos between different functional areas. Doug talked about a comparable change in culture and working practices as a result of devolving decision making to inclusive morning meetings and involving frontline employees in ideas for process improvement. Both described the support they received from WIEP."

“Doug also talked about 20-60% improvements across a range of business indicators purely as a result of different working practices and behaviours – without any capital expenditure. This reflects our own evidence, shared earlier in the workshop, that: “Comparing like with like, companies that adopt workplace innovation practices systematically achieve 20-60% performance gains in productivity, innovation and employee health.”

Delegate feedback was very positive. Susan Carneiro, Technical Director of Centro Pinus, an association of organisations promoting forest sustainability, said: “I participated in the Workplace Innovation workshop in Porto and I highly recommend it. The team is extremely experienced and promotes an engaging event. This workshop was truly inspiring.”

Jorge Silva, Head of IT at multi-national automotive equipment supplier, Huf Group, added: “It was really inspiring to hear the experiences and results of different initiatives in several sectors and learn from real examples.”

Co-facilitator Rosemary Exton concluded: “The key to inspiring organisations to adopt workplace innovation and employee-led change is to close the gap between theory and practice. We can do this by introducing the very real experiences of people like Dave and Doug who now understand the power of positive change and are willing to share their knowledge with other aspirational organisations."

“They have certainly helped to inspire our Portuguese hosts who have invited us all back to speak at events in Lisbon during June and September.”

Read more about inclusive and devolved decision making at DS Smith here.  To read more about culture transformation at Argenta, click here.

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