In the build-up to this year’s Business Awards, as sponsor of the Lifetime Achievement Award we consider some guiding principles for leading innovation, as demonstrated by previous category winners.  

This week we explore the importance of culture.  

Earlier in this series we acknowledged the different forms of innovation evident among successful firms, from continually striving to improve products or ways of working, to coming up with radical new solutions to market challenges. Each organisation chooses the appropriate ‘innovation mix’ to suit the goals of its business strategy. While leaders set the strategy, successful delivery requires the focused efforts of the entire workforce and this comes down to culture. 

Culture is a way of describing the ‘tone’ that’s set by the leaders and demonstrated in the day-to-day ways in which business is conducted and prioritisedThe 2016 winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Steve EvansFounder and Chairman of Clarkson Evans, is a superb example. He is a leader who recognised the importance of setting high standards, delivering excellent customer service and establishing a culture in which training and development creates opportunities for every member of the workforce to achieve their very best. 

Having started the business from Steve’s home in 1981 in the depth of recession, the firm has grown to become the UK's leading electrical contractor and electrical training specialist for new build housing.  

Employing apprentices since 1983, by 1999 Clarkson Evans had launched its own in-house training facility which now offers courses to more than 1,500 people each year. The innovative strategy of training their own staff in-house at purpose-built training centres, guarantees each electrician and supervised apprentice delivers quality work to its housebuilder clients.  

The firm’s success is widely recognised through multiple awards celebrating its prowess in training and development, health and safety, and business achievement. So far in 2018 Clarkson Evans has been designated a Top 100 employer for the second year running by the National Apprenticeship Service, awarded Apprentice Employer of the Year at the first ever Annual Apprenticeship Conference awards, and named National Contractor of the Year by Bovis Homes – to name but a few recent accolades.  

Although its head office remains in Gloucester, the business now operates across much of England and Wales, employing more than 850 staffwith annual turnover in excess of £55m and more than 400 commercial vehicles traveling to building sites nationwide.  

At the heart of any successful company are motivated, inspired employees led by enlightened leaders like Steve, and the leadership team that he’s put in place, continuing to drive the business forward.  

Next week we’ll show how the pursuit of ‘high performance’ when leading innovation, as demonstrated by another of our celebrated Lifetime Achievement Award past winners, can have relevance for every forward-thinking firm. 

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