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Service Innovation Programme empowers Hertfordshire SMEs

03 May 22
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Royal college or art

The pilot Hertfordshire Service Innovation Programme – delivering service innovation, better customer experience and improved value for Hertfordshire businesses – has been a phenomenal success.

Delivered on behalf of Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the trailblazing initiative harnessed the world-class expertise of Estu and Royal College of Art (RCA) by helping businesses create and capture enhanced value from their products and services.

The programme, which ran during the first three months of 2022, had several cohorts and, just from the 16 business leaders engaged in its first iteration, a total of £1.15 million of private investment is expected to be leveraged along with the creation of 55 jobs.

Participants received training to develop a specific identified area of their business or market opportunity, and benefited from outstanding executive training covering the theory and application of design thinking and business model innovation.

Pedro Tolipan, Head of McKinsey Design, Rikesh Shah, Head of Commercial Innovation at Transport for London, and Yao Yingjia, Design Chief at Lenovo, were among the industry leaders to share insights with Hertfordshire businesses.

Louise Towler, Managing Director, Indigo Tree Digital, said: “This is an excellent course, which I highly recommend to all business owners and people responsible for customer service. I am excited that I now have a toolkit of ideas and techniques which I can apply right now to improve how we help our clients. We will also be taking this and applying it directly to our new product and service development to ensure what we develop meets real customer needs.

“This course has given me the confidence that as we grow and innovate we have a model to ensure we are always thinking about what is important to our customers. I can really recommend this, it has been really, really great. I am buzzing with ideas from the course.”

Tolga Aramaz, Director, Learn Trade Skills described the course as “outrageously simple yet extremely effective” while Mohammed Alamgir Parveys, Operations Manager, Levollo, said it was “a very well-structured course,” which opened his eyes as to how Levollo could develop and grow.

Anna Peck, Creative Director, Midnight Blue Marketing, added: "I loved this course from beginning to end. As a brand strategist it gave me a new perspective on the route to market, new ways to work with my clients and new ways to think about my own business. I will be taking my learnings to my team and taking them through the work so we can apply innovation to the way to work.”

Every business submitting post-event feedback said they would recommend the programme to a friend in business for reasons including the quality of speakers, lecturers, tutors and mentors, tools and models, the combination of theory and practical learning, use of real-life examples and seamless use of technology for learning.

Artist/composer Nicola Kearey, co-founder of From Here Records, said: “This course helped me figure out how to ask the right questions, in order to make the most efficient pivot for my business. I can now confidently launch a new service, knowing I've made the right considerations.”

Linda Hausmanis, CEO, IWFM, told course co-ordinators: “Rarely does a course surpass all expectations, this one did. Brilliant,” while Dean Ezekiel of The Hello Face said itchallenged our way of thinking about our business and customers, to deliver added tangible value and long-lasting relationships.”

Richard Cooksey, CEO, JPA Workspaces, added: “The Service Innovation course was fantastic and covered a great deal in a very short time that not only helped understand the theory but how to apply the learning in my organisation.” 

The programme was created by Estu, a leadership and development business which delivers enhanced business growth for clients and RCA, the number one ranked university worldwide for design teaching. The work of both partners was highly-praised by participants.

Rachel Kepinska-Smith, of KS Consulting, said: “I can’t tell you how incredibly useful this programme is. The team at Estu are outstanding! There isn't a business in the world who wouldn't benefit from this programme. If you are serious about being customer-focused and fulfilling your team to sustain your business, stop what you are doing and apply now.

“In an ideal world, this would be the very beginning of every business's growth journey.”

Yemi Adeniran, Managing Partner at Digiterhub, said: This programme has been a revelation - I have an MBA and we didn't go into this level of insight around innovation. It's been fantastic for me and the business. I would recommend to any business leader keen to understand the process of bringing products and services to market effectively. World class teaching, exceptional speakers, thank you to you and the team.”

Nicholas De Leon, Service Innovation Programme director at the RCA, was among the tutors. He has been instrumental in maintaining RCA’s status as the number one global design teaching university for eight years running.

Artist and designer Lee Simmons said: “Nick and the team were a breath of fresh air after an intense 18 months of work within my practice, the course has allowed me to reflect on a few things in relation to collaborative working and how to perhaps approach future collaborations and business plan propositions.”

Josh Kubale, Marketing & Communications Manager, Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, said: I hugely enjoyed this course and it helped me to frame the projects I am working on. Nick is a superb trainer and the presentations were diverse and hugely interesting.”

Simon Hemington, founder of the Boffin Lab, said: Great content, delivered by expert tutors that's easy to apply back in our business. Sign up now.”

Simon Littlewood, CEO of Estu, said he was delighted by the response to the pilot Service Innovation Programme. At Estu we are proud to develop effective leadership development programmes that deliver proven business results and personal growth for learners. We link individuals’ learning journeys directly to organisational impact and are committed to great programmes that mean motivated, engaged teams and positive results.

“The Estu Service Innovation Programme developed with the RCA is an exceptional opportunity for businesses to increase sales, innovate successfully and build value with some of the world’s top commercial designers. We are lucky to work with fantastic collaborators from the world’s leading universities and organisations such as Google X, McKinsey, Adidas and The NHS.”

The exclusive, executive programme offered two pathways for participants to learn to apply customer centric design principles to their business.

The first, a two-week Foundation programme, offered user insight, human-centred research methods, design thinking, visualisation and systems thinking, prototyping, organisational alignment, business case development and commercialisation.

The eight-week Practitioner course asked participants to describe a key opportunity or problem they wanted to tackle. Based on this the team developed and introduced a number of tailored group project briefs to enable participants to practice applying the knowledge gained and then, in parallel, consider how it could be exploited for their own specific business or organisational opportunity or challenge.

Learning took place online with a rich virtual learning environment, live real-time and interactive presentations, online workshops in breakout rooms along with an experiential project brief so participants could apply their learning to a real-life project. 

Laura Wheatley, Head of Coaching, Infusion Group, said: Highly recommended! A fantastic mix of lectures, presentations, theory and practical with experts leading the charge. The resources made available are of such quality, we are already making plans to review these as a business to further strengthen and develop our service proposition for our valued clients.”

Chris Tredget, Willmott Dixon MD for north London, added: It was really helpful to understand the processes underpinning successful innovation, I would recommend this programme to any business leader interested in transformation.”

Participants will receive their official certificates for completion of the course at the Service Innovation breakfast on 10 May at the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in Watford.

Tutors, team members and participants will be joined by Rikesh Shah, Nicholas De Leon and Hertfordshire LEP for a panel Q&A on the lessons of implementing Service Innovation projects.

The LEP funded the participation of 70 local businesses in the programme along with follow up support. Supporting partners include Rothamsted Enterprises, BRE, Hertfordshire Growth Hub, University of Hertfordshire, Innovate UK Edge, Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce and Herts IQ.

Nitin Dahad, LEP Board Member and Chair, Enterprise and Innovation Board, said: “The LEP’s Enterprise and Innovation Strategy focuses on the breadth of enterprise and innovation across 60,000 businesses, offering particular opportunities for high value and ‘additional’ growth which will equip Hertfordshire to compete internationally as well as nationally. This programme is a prime example of that innovative approach being developed by the LEP in partnership with prestigious organisations.”

Going forward, Estu intends to develop the Service Innovation Programme further and has introduced its Government-funded Net Zero Leaders programme to businesses in Hertfordshire.

Check Estu and the LEP’s websites for updates and opportunities to join other programmes.

 

The LEP’s Enterprise and Innovation Strategy focuses on the breadth of enterprise and innovation across 60,000 businesses, offering particular opportunities for high value and ‘additional’ growth which will equip Hertfordshire to compete internationally as well as nationally. This programme is a prime example of that innovative approach being developed by the LEP in partnership with prestigious organisations.
Nitin Dahad Nitin DahadLEP Board Member and Chair, Enterprise and Innovation Board

Service Innovation Programme

The LEP’s Enterprise and Innovation Strategy focuses on the breadth of enterprise and innovation across 60,000 businesses, offering particular opportunities for high value and ‘additional’ growth which will equip Hertfordshire to compete internationally as well as nationally. This programme is a prime example of that innovative approach being developed by the LEP in partnership with prestigious organisations.
Nitin Dahad Nitin DahadLEP Board Member and Chair, Enterprise and Innovation Board