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RICHARD NOBLE

Thought Leader: Engineering and land speed

RICHARD NOBLE
Thought Leader: Engineering and land speed

Big Innovation Centre THOUGHT LEADER: ENGINEERING AND LAND SPEED

Holds world record for having developed the world’s fastest car 2006, and currently preparing new record for 2016

 

For the Thought Leadership meeting on March 10th 2015, Richard Noble's reflexion:

 On open innovation

“The problem with innovation has always been the DNA culture in which the product or service was born. In a conventional hierarchy company all innovation has to go through some assessment panel which usually is heavily biased towards cost, safety, risk mitigation, convention and stakeholder approval. In the ThrustSSC company we developed an empowered culture where individual designers were responsible for their input and suitably authorised. This meant that there was no innovation panel and if the designer was happy enough about the technology, risk, weight and cost, it was fitted to the car.

An important input was Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs of 1941 – by really empowering capable people you can witness extraordinary levels of personal development and delivery as team members find themselves in the very special Self Actuation bucket at the top of the Triangle.

So this is where the future really lies. By using the latest technologies to develop designs and coupling that with a flat empowered company, extraordinary levels of innovation and achievement can be delivered.

If you then look at any product or service developed before the last ten years and still in production you can be sure that it was most probably developed in a risk averse hierarchy company. This means that a modern flat company using the latest technology can produce a far better variant of the same product and woo the consumers.

Steve Jobs knew all about that ……”

On finance for innovation

“There’s more to it than technologies….

The future looks to us to be incredibly exciting and profitable.  It’s not so much due to the new technologies which may come our way, so much as the all important change in culture which is needed to match the new IT capabilities. Somehow in Britain we seem to have created the most risk averse society in the world. This affects innovation because any innovation changes risk. It is said that much of this is the responsibility of the accountants since we have 286,000 accountants in the United Kingdom – incidentally more than in the entire remainder of the EU – and all accountants are trained to sniff out and snuff out any indications of optimism or risk in the business plans. This of course can result in single digit corporate growth which seems to be acceptable as long as it is safe.

Back in 1992 onwards we took on the both Americans and the McLaren Formula 1 team in the challenge to produce the first supersonic land speed record car.  Both the McLaren and the Spirit of America designs were conventional single engine jets.  Our ThrustSSC team used CFD and rocket testing for the first time on a car and we came out with a radical twin jet design with rear wheel steering. Our design was the only design that worked and our record has stood for 17 years. Not only that but the cash burn on that project was just 12% of the McLaren budget. We had used advanced technology to develop the aeroshape and we used a flat company with individual empowerment to ensure maximum team performance and  maximum innovation.”

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