It’s rare to see organisations investing in a long shot because no company wants to fund failure. But have we become so risk averse that we are attracted to the relative ease and safety of marginal gains in improvement at the expense of other, bigger (but potentially more perilous) ways of generating innovation?
Chasing small improvements does have its attractions. British cyclists won seven gold medals at the 2012 Olympics while the rest of the world combined could only manage three. The (literally) breath-taking success of the British cycling team was attributed in large part to employing a philosophy of ‘marginal gains – small modifications that together lead to big change.
Matt Parker was the man whose idea this was. As head of marginal gains at British Cycling, he came up with a series of small ideas (such as rubbing alcohol on the bikes’ tyres before a race to clean off dust and give them more grip) that, together, boosted the team’s performance enough to win consistently.
This has led a host of organisations to leap aboard the ‘small changes’ bandwagon. But it’s debatable whether they are they right to have done so. Investment in step change is risky, but that risk has the potential to pay enormous dividends for creative and innovative businesses.
Indeed, creativity and innovation are what marks out the pioneers from the also-rans. German American economist and Harvard professor Theodore Levitt defined creativity as thinking up new things and innovation as doing new things.
In other words, creativity is the act of conceiving something new, whether a variation on an existing theme or something wholly original with innovation the act of putting that concept into practice.
Essentially, creativity is about unleashing the potential of the mind to conceive new ideas. Innovation is about introducing change and is also concerned with the work required to make an idea viable.
Creativity and innovation can come in many forms. For instance, new ways of thinking about technology can lead to inspiration when it comes to how the technology works.
The latest in air conditioning innovations
One example of this is our own award-winning Rhoss EXP/HT four-pipe heating and cooling system, a hybrid system that can produce independent cooling and heating, just like a traditional chiller or heat pump, but the innovative part of the system is the use of a third heat exchanger within the machine so that, when cooling, the heating can be essentially free due to heat recovery, or vice versa.
The system comprises two parts. A hybrid four-pipe air or water source heat pump produces simultaneous or independent cooling and heating (using heat recovery wherever possible for ‘free’ heating or cooling), with typical chilled water temperatures of 6/12degC and hot water temperatures, typically up to 55degC.
A high temperature water source heat pump is then used, with the recovered heat being the source to raise the temperature of the domestic hot water loop to up to 78degC with an impressive CoP of up to 6.0.
Since it is an integrated heat pump solution, there is no need for a separate boiler which results in a significant plant space saving and lower equivalent CO2 emissions in operation.
Energy saving air conditioning
The Rhoss EXP/HT typically boasts operating energy cost savings of around 22% and 28% reduction in carbon emissions compared to a traditional chiller and boiler four-pipe solution (without water source heat pump). Any additional cost for the hybrid heat solution over a chiller and boiler system is typically recovered within just over two years from the energy cost saving.