The Innovation Network is run and facilitated by Siobhan Soraghan BSc MBA, a staunch believer in the value of bringing smart people with common interests together, especially the more we head towards an increasingly virtual future.
She believes there is no substitute for experiencing dialogue with another, and the random flow of ideas and thoughts that connect as conversations unfold. Trust builds. Minds are expanded. Friendships are formed.
All this is wonderful for innovation – getting us out of our thinking ruts and seeing things from different perspectives. Serendipity often occurs at the events. And it’s not entirely by accident…
As a leadership development professional, Siobhan knows the value of providing conditions conducive to learning, creativity, and relationship-building. So the format is designed to maximise the value to participants:
- Event topics are suggested by members
- Each event is themed around one topic that is explored from different angles
- Experts are carefully sought to complement one another and elucidate the theme
- Speakers are interactive with the group so that attendees engage and get to explore what they are curious about
- People are put in small groups with specific questions to stimulate dialogue and surface nuggets of learning that can be applied back in the workplace
Siobhan is herself no stranger to new product development or science and technology. At the outset of her career she was involved in product development of oilfield chemicals and has a patent to her name. After a move for several years into technical sales, marketing and business development, she decided to pursue her interest in leadership and strategic change. She left to undertake an MBA at Cranfield School of Management in ‘91.
Since graduating with her MBA, she has become a highly respected and experienced executive coach of senior executives, Directors and CEOs. She also works with management teams to diagnose and facilitate opportunities for bringing greater cohesion and robustness to decision-making.
Her clients have often been in organisations with high intellectual capital and with very bright people at the top – e.g. high tech, professional services, research, senor civil service. They include a Permanent Secretary, and Church of England Bishop, a Naval Commander and a wide range of leaders and senior technologists and professionals across many sectors.
Siobhan has come to believe strongly in the skills of dialogue for leading, peer learning and networking. She brings this passion, alongside her affinity for all things “tech”, to the Innovation Network.
Member companies are high-tech firms across the UK covering a wide range of industries in engineering, chemicals, biotech, pharma and digital, and relevant professional services.
Many are technical innovators of global repute in their own field. All are deeply curious about advances the leadership of innovation in their own and in other sectors – and in disruptive innovation affecting how we all do business.
Participants from member companies include leaders of transformation, technology development and customer facing teams.
It is a very unique peer learning community where members are willing to learn together and generously share their experience.
Membership is by invitation only as we are careful to ensure the “fit” with the profile of members and alignment with the Network ethos.
What we’re about
The Network exists to foster exploration and cross-fertilisation in the leadership of innovation across sector and discipline boundaries.
We do this with the following activities are covered by the subscription, but of course we welcome non-members on a pay-as-you-go basis:
Innovator Connection events
These are held in Apr ’22, Sep ’22, and Jan ’23
- As many innovators from member companies can attend as wish
- Conversation one-to-ones are set up with a range of innovators from other member organisations
- A “lounge” is available afterwards for connecting at will
The Innovator Exchange
Twice a year, senior innovators are paired with developing innovators in other organisations in a mentoring relationship.
The Innovators’ Assembly
This is a collection of 4 online events once a week in October, addressing innovation topics at 4 levels of landscape to help leaders step back from their day-today role and think more systemically:
Each event includes a TED-talk style presentation on a key theme, followed by rich exchange in small groups.
Sessions for innovators regardless of what silo or organisation they are in. A space collaborative space for them to come together to practice both problem-solving and problem-facilitation tools. Developing competence in using valuable tools while experiencing how those from different functions and different organisational cultures view the same issues. An excellent way to expand one mental model.
A highly confidential round table gathering for the most senior innovators to explore their own practice and challenges, and receive support from experienced peers.
These are quite intimate and informal 1hr online gatherings in months where there are no events (as above) planned. They involve frank and open sharing of operational issues being faced in these times, and attendees offer each other their insights and experience. Confidentiality, respect and trust are key, so these are for subscribers only.
Discounted access to skills development activities
A rich smorgasbord of development activities are available from Active Insight at a much reduced price to members of the Innovation Network, e.g.:
- Open masterclasses and in-house workshops delivered by our deep experienced faculty members
- Webinars: ca 1-2hrs of rich theory and knowledge delivered concisely; for unlimited numbers
- Coaching: for leadership skills or a wide range of specialist innovation support
The ultimate goal is to help members’ businesses to prosper by evolving successfully within a rapidly changing world.
In the past, innovations have often arisen through spontaneous dialogue in real time with colleagues over the coffee machine, or random conversations with peers not necessarily from the same discipline.
However, in a world of flatter organisations and remote teams, it can be difficult to find the time and the opportunities to have such unplanned, yet potentially fruitful interactions. Even more so in Covid times!
Our philosophy is to help create such valuable opportunities at each of our events. We believe that serendipity is directly correlated with the volume and diversity of enjoyable, stimulating connections.
Through our quality activities throughout the year, to we provide our members with:
Information about disruptive technologies that are evolving in various fields
Education about the human side of leading innovation
Inspiration from visits to sites of scientific interest – whether historical, of national repute, or visits to member sites (suspended sadly during Covid times)
Connections with other members (an impressive peer group), and with guest speakers who are typically leaders their field
Translation of key insights, knowledge and learning back into the workplace