corporate creativity & innovation
Fine in theory, but different in reality! © 2006 David M. Weeks.

This fictional company - "Nabby Rational" provides the context in which these diaries occur as a series of e-mails and commentaries. They tell a story of creation and innovation within a corporate 'hairball' - a phrase taken from "Orbiting the Giant Hairball" by the late Gordon McKenzie

Formed originally at the turn of the 1900's Nabby Rational dealt in customer financial services. Competition was intense and there was a need for injection of capital. This led to Nabby Rational becoming a plc in 1978 and floating on the London Stock Exchange.

Its diversification strategy meant that it could provide customer financial security through a wider range of services than ever before to met its customers’ constantly changing needs. By 1994 profit had increased to £1,500 million.

1996 was a year of change at the top, with the smooth succession of Ian Davison to become CEO . Jac Willington’s became Group IT Director in that year.

Employee involvement and effective communication was vital to Nabby Rational’s continued success. In 1998, it launched its own intranet - with the aim of ensuring that employees were fully informed. Nabby Rational also ran a scheme to encourage and reward employees for their ideas and suggestions to improve the business - the Archimedes scheme run by Sunita Perigan. The mental athletics programme (MAP) was introduced as a means to increase staff suggestions.

Things were going spectacularly and by 2000, Nabby reported a 15% rise in underlying pre-tax profit to a record £2.0bn Unfortunately a foray into corporate banking at a time when markets were falling dragged down the traditional mortgage business leading to massive provisions in 2001, Eventually Ian Davison stepped Down as CEO. Losses mounted to £910m.

New management was recruited in 2001 - Luc Van Winkle was recruited as CEO. Changes ensured, the brand name was changed to "Rational" to give a new look and feel (?). The intention was to 'turn banking inside out'. However, things were worse than expected and losses came in at £600m. The intranet was revamped and aligned more to business needs.

By 2002, half way into the restructure, things were still not going to plan. Pundits questioned whether the "back to basics" strategy suggested by the new multi-million pound management was very innovative. The company limped on with its share price falling still lower.

Finally and unfortunately inevitably, Nabby Rational gets swallowed up by a more innovative Portuguese competitor.

The morale of the story is that unless a company is prepared to truely embrace a culture of constant innovation it will wilt and die. As with Nabby Rational, most companies never last more than a century. Good luck to Lis Bon Banco Rational.