Inspirational moments, places and people, they hit you and hit you hard! For me inspiration is what drives innovation, not just of what we create but also in how we think and how we work. I feel very lucky to be in a role where inspiration that leads to innovation is our core reason for being.

Brian Cox in his recent BBC programme ‘Science Britannica’ provides an interesting insight into the difference between innovation that you stumble across and innovation that you try to plan to hit. I think the big difference between the two is the inspiration factor. You can’t plan to be inspired and therefore I believe that the scheduling of innovation is simply a flawed concept. After all we wouldn’t have colour mauve if it wasn’t for an inspired mistake made by Perkins in 1856 as he tried to synthesise anti-Malaria drugs, and other than orange I really like mauve!

Recently I was lucky enough to be in the USA giving the Life Sciences industry overviews of the NIHR Clinical Research Networks information systems. I was explaining how those systems are changing the way we do research. In many ways trying to inspire people from this industry to consider the UK as an integrated environment to do clinical research. Whilst in Boston I was able to visit MIT which is for me the centre of so much inspiration.

My office is on a university campus in the UK, and you do get a feel for the education being inspirational, but doing a conference call on the MIT campus back to the UK really was verging on awe inspiring. The place is so obviously full of brain power, and it feels infectious. Sitting in Technology Square with quotes from the great and the good of the IT world really helped me come up with the early ‘bones’ of the implementation strategy for our new major system.

At a conference this year I watched a gentleman present on Business Intelligence and the visualisation of big data. He inspired me and my team for a number of reasons, first his style, how to present with the ultimate amount of enthusiasm, he blew the audience away through his open honesty and sheer enthusiasm and knowledge of his subject. However, more importantly, was the content of what he presented. The tools and abilities to visualise Big Data through the development of a tool his organisation had invested in. He was willing to share and he inspired us to go away and create a significant piece of innovation and develop the solution we now call the Open Data Platform.

Reading blogs and writing blogs has become a new inspiration for me. Two recent blogs had quite an impact on me in different ways.

The first was a commentary on how we describe Information Systems and how ‘geek speak’ is a turn off for the vast majority of people. The need for access to information about IT without the trendy terms always being pulled out of the same hat was discussed. It made me think how much we have been sucked into the, ‘technology first and customer need second’ stance as an industry, often quite simply because we haven’t spent the right time with the customer before hand.  Read the blog here:

NIHR and ABPI conference in November on ‘big data’

The second was from a research nurse working in the NIHR and described in detail what it means to be at the delivery arm of our organisation, truly wonderful writing that makes me realise that everything we do has a significant ability to have an impact. Read the blog here:

Conference presentations (good and bad) inspire the style we use to deliver presentations. Borrowing is the highest form of compliment, we hope, and we are working hard to take the best of others, learn and apply all the time, but enough about presenting, that was last time!

Good leaders should be inspirational; it’s a core trait of a leader I would suggest. A leader in my organisation creates inspiration through what I call ‘idea dumps’, once a quarter or so I meet this leader for dinner, and I try to keep my brain keen during this social meeting as the amount of inspiring ideas that are dumped out that I immediately want to follow up on are quite significant, but I really couldn’t take my note pad and pen to dinner! We are lucky, the leadership team of our organisation take inspiration seriously, they allow us room to think and facilitate innovation to happen, lets face it today that isn’t always the case, and this inspires us to deliver even more!

I guess last but not least is my very best friend Phlumpet. An inspiration and constant editor for my thoughts and ideas, nothing better than being able to bounce ideas around with someone who understands what you are doing and where you are trying to get to, and when you can do that in the car, the restaurant, the park and the walk to work, that inspires me more than anything else!