Khoo, Innovate in All Areas [Yes! And Blog 146]

“They bartered, they smuggled and some sneakily stole from the opposite side to get a taster of the forbidden food.” 

Rachel Khoo TV Chef


What might the benefits of innovative thinking be in your organisation?

Innovate Across the OrganisationRecently, I came back from a walk one Saturday morning and the TV was on. The show was “The Little Paris Kitchen” hosted by Rachel Khoo. Rachel is primarily a culinary events organiser, many of which you can see on her site (of interest if you are looking for something different for your next corporate event!).

In the show, chef Rachel used her 21 square metres Parisian flat as a restaurant with one table and a kitchen so tiny you can’t fit a full size chicken in the oven. It was innovative.

It set me thinking about innovation and how, if it can be done in a tiny kitchen, it can be done anywhere, with often minimal resources.

When you mention innovation there’s always a tendency for people to think of Apple and its products, or Amazon and its business model; innovation does not have to be that large scale or confined to products and delivery channels.

Neither does it have to be the domain of the “expert”. Rachel Khoo was working in London as a PR for a fashion brand before she picked up her case and moved to Paris. She signed up to learn French and patisserie making when she got there.


People can apply innovative thinking anywhere across an organisation. Why would your organisation want people to do that?  Here are three reasons:


Organisations tend to introduce new products and services because they want to increase profits. However, this is just one way to increase profits. Imagine that all of your people are looking for new opportunities to increase profits.

Think of the mine of information and skills your support departments are sitting on. How might they use that to add value to your core product or service? E.g. What if you took the idea of people devoting 15% of their time to projects that interested them (as used in 3M, Google etc) and applied it to support staff to find ways to become a profit centre? You don’t have to apply it to all areas at once; you might trial the idea.


By extending innovative thinking beyond R & D, Product Development or senior managers, your organisation can tap into the innate creativity of the entire organisation and make work more interesting and stimulating for all.  This can reduce staff turnover, the cost of recruitment and the opportunity costs of introducing new people.

Finance and People 

One way you can value a business is to use a formula: Valuation = Net profits x Multiplier.  The net profit is an objective measure; the multiplier is more subjective, being based on the attraction of your business to a buyer.  How much more attractive is your business if analysts know that you are using the ability of every person to its optimum?

In essence, by helping your people to make the most of every opportunity, you create most value in your organisation.


Think about how you might encourage more people in your organisation to be innovative. Or consider how you might innovate on a small scale, just for the fun of it.

To Close

Having lived in Berlin for three years whilst in the RAF back in the late 1970’s, I had to look at Rachel Khoo’s culinary event, “Tearing down the wall, Berlin”.  The team dished up two menus, one from East Berlin and another from West Berlin. Guests were assigned a place on either side of the metaphorical “wall” and served their menu. To taste the food from the other side they had to barter, smuggle or steal to taste the food from over the “wall”.

This was a great use of metaphor as a spark to create a new experience and another good example of how innovation does not have to be reserved for large projects. Perhaps you can start in the staff restaurant!

Have an interesting week.


John Brooker I Yes! And. Think Innovatively.

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