Future Foundry launches to foster cultures of innovation through collaboration

Manifesto Future Foundry logo over dark image of someone writing

The world is changing at a faster rate than ever. New technologies are emerging and converging to create an ever-shifting landscape of products and services which is constantly remoulding consumer expectations. For a business to survive and succeed in this brave new world, we know that innovation is crucial. But fostering a culture of innovation at the enterprise level is easier said than done. Top-down decision making structures are anathema to agility. It’s up to leadership to lead by example, and put collaboration at the heart of the organisational ethic.

Steam locomotive vs Mars rover

Digital technologies have already transformed society by changing the way we interact with information, government, businesses and each other. The first few waves of digital technology – including computerisation and the internet – were no less transformative than electricity and the assembly line in their days. They not only revolutionised what products and services looked like, but brought with them new ways of working, new processes and new organisational structures which were better suited for a world of lightning-fast information transfer on a global scale.

We’re now encountering a new wave of emerging technologies – machine learning, robotic process automation, blockchain, cloud computing, natural language interfaces, the Internet of Things – which, together, will usher in a revolution of even greater magnitude. These technologies are also reconfiguring the working methods of successful enterprises, with the trend towards agility and speed of innovation becoming even more pronounced.

Organisations which are future-fit must look less like steam locomotives, following an unalterable route planned well in advance, and more like a Mars rover, constantly taking readings to update its picture of the environment and plot a course on the fly. Long product development cycles can’t react to changing customer needs. Siloed departments can’t build an all-encompassing picture of how to create value for the organisation.

“At this point in time we have a choice – do we want to be a participant in the future or a recipient of it. I know my answer – and I want FutureFoundry to help others be proactive participants too.” – Jim Bowes, CEO, Manifesto

Working together is working smarter

Human beings are born problem solvers. Wandering the plains of Africa for hundreds of thousands of years in direct competition with many other species, early humans were forced to innovate ingenious ways to find and secure access to water, food and shelter. One of the most important of these early innovations was collaboration – by working together, our capacity for problem solving was vastly increased, setting up a positive feedback loop which saw our brain size increase in tandem with our developing social capabilities.

The will to innovate has never gone away, but is only truly unlocked in a culture of collaboration. In the modern organisation this means bringing together people from across and beyond the organisation to work on critical business challenges. People with varying perspectives on the customer experience, internal processes and organisational objectives. People who can, by splicing their disparate perspectives together, frame the problem within an holistic, 360-degree view of how the organisation builds value, so that new products and services, new ways of working, and new organisational structures can emerge.

“Innovation comes about by bringing the right people together in an environment where they feel free to challenge, stretch and create outside any regular day-to-day constraints. FutureFoundry creates that environment and channels the output into focussed results.” – Mark Ellis, Creative Director, Manifesto

Innovation is not a box-ticking exercise

A recent trend towards creating innovation labs – siloed teams or arms length startups focusing on innovation – to reinvigorate the enterprise has led to some success but also some notable failures. Ogilvy, Disney, and the New York Times have all shuttered innovation labs in their infancy, finding that isolated teams either focus on tech to the detriment of people, aren’t able to properly align their projects with wider business strategy, or try to do too much at once to win the respect of the core business.

While setting up an isolated innovation team might be the fastest route to new products and services, since it doesn’t require finding and repurposing internal resources, it’s also often the costliest, and leaves all the accumulated knowledge, insight and ingenuity of the rest of your teams untapped. A more farsighted method is to bring together a swarm of people from across the business, working alongside creatives, technologists and strategists, to frame important business challenges and innovate solutions to them.

It can be a scarier approach, because it’s a devolution of the power to frame key business problems/opportunities away from the C-suite, putting it in the hands of people with a more immediate understanding of how the business and its customers interact. But, precisely for that reason, it’s also a much less risky approach.

Launching the Future Foundry – an innovation hothouse

We believe that the key components of successful innovation exist in every organisation, but that sometimes, you need to bring the right people together with the right ways of working and the right support in order to get things moving.

Because organisations often need some extra kindling when it comes to lighting the fires of innovation, Manifesto created the Future Foundry, our strategic innovation wing, dedicated to helping clients problematise their critical business challenges and rapidly develop solutions. Future Foundry offers a variety of predefined strategic interventions – from Hack Days to full Design Sprints – which bring together key stakeholders from across the business to work in collaboration with our experts on creating new products, services and processes.

We believe that innovation should be a common practice at the core of your organisation’s day-to-day. The Future Foundry is about helping you get there.


To find out how Future Foundry can help you identify the business challenges which can unlock the most value for your organisation, and rapidly design and prototype solutions, contact us today.

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