Embedding innovation in the business

Thursday 22 September 2005

Royal Mail Group Innovation Laboratory, Rugby

David Burden, Group CIO, Royal Mail Group


David Burden joined the company on 1 November 2002 from Qantas where he was Executive General Manager, Technology and Services until 2001. His brief at Royal Mail is to drive the development of smart IT and technology investments throughout the business and his appointment demonstrates Royal Mail's determination to get the most out of major IT projects.

As the Chief Information Officer at Qantas he led the development of an integrated IT infrastructure and applications portfolio after the merger with Australian Airlines. Prior to joining Qantas, he was Chief Information Officer at Air Canada in Montreal and he also worked with the Canadian Prime Minister's National Advisory Board on Science and Technology with special responsibility for matters relating to the Financing of Industrial Innovation.

David Burden's presentation (PDF)

Feedback from Simon Earnshaw
Following a warm welcome and introduction by David Ferguson, David Burden Group CIO of the Royal Mail Group (RMG) gave a fascinating insight into the commercial, regulatory and technical challenges facing the organisation. Given the dramatic sociological changes in recent years such as the advent of widespread e-mail use, text messaging and shopping online, David made a strong case that it was more important than it had ever been to plan for the future by being innovative in the present. The RMG Innovation Laboratory (the Lab) has become central to this strategy and already significant financial, operational and strategic benefits have been realised from its use. With employees from across RMG and some teams from other organisations using the Lab to tackle all manor of issues the facility is in almost continual use, which is a testament to its value.

After an excellent lunch, members of Elite were given the opportunity to try out the Lab for ourselves. The Lab itself consists of a number of imaginatively themed areas, designed to help visitors to relax, to be creative and to interact informally. Facilitators encourage lateral thinking by first directing groups away from the issues to be considered and then focussing them back in to shortlist useful ideas. These ideas are then broadened out in turn and developed further, before being re-focussed. So the cycle continues to ensure that a large number of possibilities are explored and that opportunities for innovation are not missed. The process, known as Creative Problem Solving within RMG, usually takes days rather than hours to complete and so our visit inevitably only gave us taste a its potential. However, being a Lab rat for a day certainly made us think, which can only be a good thing!