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Written by Michaela Millar

Recently, I had the absolute privilege of presenting at Creative Dundee’s Pecha Kucha Night Vol 14. An event which I have attended myself many times before and one that I have always left feeling inspired and awe struck as a result of the amazing things that businesses, charities and individuals are doing in and around Dundee.

 

Pecha Kucha or ‘chit chat’ in Japanese, is a simple and fast paced format for presenting. Each presenter shows 20 images for 20 seconds (no text) on any topic which inspires them! The concept was developed by Klein Dytham Architecture, in Tokyo 2003 and has gone global with over 800 cities now hosting PKNs. On paper it sounds simple but I have a lot to say and am definitely a chatter box so trying to fit everything into such a short amount of time was a real challenge.

 

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Implementing a design-led strategy

My topic was of course Scott & Fyfe but more specifically on the transformation the company has undertaken over the past 5 to 6 years developing and implementing a design-led strategy. The entire evening was filmed and streamed live online by Stream Scotland and of course, watched by the sell-out audience of roughly 400 creatives. Not half piling on the pressure. You can watch the video of the night here, (I am on at 1 hour 54 minutes).

 

Togs for Tots to Teens

There were so many fantastic speakers on the night that I thoroughly enjoyed every second and was (almost) able to relax and forget the nerves. One or two standouts included Jordan Butler who as Managing Director of the Social Enterprise “Togs for Tots to Teens” uses creative thinking and an ethos of “Creating Kindness” as the building blocks to the fantastic work she does distributing clothing and equipment to struggling families. This can be in the form of clothes, toys or even bed linen and Jordan explains just how much of a difference something as seemingly small as bed linen can make by sharing the feedback she received from one mum. This feedback was that the family with 3 young boys had their first good night’s sleep because their 3 year old slept in bed for a full night because he loved his new dinosaur covers.

 

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Thought Ninja

Another fantastic speaker was Dawn Walton, a cognitive hypnotherapist who showed us how to banish our negative thoughts – like a thought ninja! And alongside this, explored exactly how and when we lose our ability to be creative. Her accompanying images were simple and hilarious and I think it is extremely relevant to the way we work at Scott & Fyfe. This is because all of the work that we carried out with the Glasgow School of Art (which I will speak about soon) was to coax the creative side back out of our employees. We soon realised that they could all still think creatively and solve problems it was simply that this had gotten a little lost in day to day adult life!

 

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Then it was my turn…

After watching the diverse range of speakers it was then my turn to change topic completely and give my take on design from a business point of view. Explaining exactly how our traditional 150 year old manufacturing company transformed itself into a forward thinking, “google-esque” type company with a design-led strategy.  150 years fit into 6:40 minutes.

 

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Adapt to Survive

Design led and creative are not exactly the first words that spring to mind when discussing a traditional manufacturing company, let alone one which has been established for 150 years. So for bragging rights, it would be nice to be able to say that the company’s decision to take on this new approach was due to an inspired notion. However, the transformation to a design-led strategy was not carried out from a comfortable position but rather through the knowledge that Scott & Fyfe needed to adapt, and adapt quickly, in order to survive.

 

The struggle to survive came ironically as a result of the company’s success. Scott & Fyfe was extremely successful for a long time with the company’s main product ranges acting as great cash cows. Due to this, the company rested on its laurels and placed no emphasis on the need to produce new products that would be commercially successful and whilst there were many talented employees, a lack of communication and insight was blinding. Unfortunately this short sightedness meant that we did not notice our main markets going into decline and when the recession hit we began to lose money fast.

 

Creating Cultures of Innovation

As we began to struggle, we were introduced to a new team at the Glasgow School of Art (GSoA) who were looking to teach design principles to non-designers in a project called Creating Cultures of Innovation. This was the birth of our NOW team (New Opportunities Within). We got to work with these guys, sending a group of employees from all areas of the company to learn different problem solving tools and methods of working collaboratively.

 

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Learning to use Design Tools and to work in Cross Functional Teams

All of the design tools learned with the GSoA fit into the Double Diamond model above. This is a framework we use for our new product developments. It encourages us to look outwards, to speak to the market whether this is our customers, through networking at exhibitions or by linking in with academics etc. It then forces us to make sure that we really do listen to them before bringing the insights back to spot the opportunities as a team. From there on, we develop and push these ideas and begin to develop prototypes before ultimately finalising a product which then stands a real chance at being a successfully commercial innovation.

 

Teamwork is one of the key takeaways from our design approach. Employees from all over the company have fantastic ideas and vital insights that were missed previously when only one or two employees had any input. The design tools are used to aid this, dotocracy and 6 hats for example both empower employees and give them an equal say to their colleagues irrespective of their time served or status in the company. For more on these tools have a look at our previous design tools blog.

 

The new market-focussed POD structure of the company enforces the design-led strategy even further by ensuring we put the market and customers at the very top of our priorities and, of course, by running the POD’s with cross functional teams.

 

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This is a Work in Progress

Ultimately, this sums up the transformation in a brief way, the reality is a very lengthy process and I think that most employees would admit this is 100% a work in progress. We are not there yet and are constantly seeking advice, making mistakes, learning, failing and adapting. Implementing the design-led strategy has not been a magic wand but it has, in my opinion, kept the company afloat in recent years and hopefully the rewards will really start to show.

 

Doing the PKN simply reminded me just how inspiring an environment it is to work in!

 

 

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Written by Guest Blogger

 

Over the next few months, we want to introduce you to the owners at Scott & Fyfe – the employees!

Now in the fourth of our employee profiles, please meet Peter Thomson, employee owner, chair of the Employee Forum and much more.

 

Can you please tell us a little about yourself and what you do?

My job role at Scott & Fyfe is project technician of knitting and development and I am also chairman of the Employee Forum. The forum is a group of nominated employees who are tasked with driving engagement within the company. This manifests itself in many ways including improving communications, organising social events and improving the working conditions.  

 

How long have you been working at Scott and Fyfe?

I have been working here for almost 16 years now and in that time I have covered a lot. I was brought in primarily to develop the knitted product range for the company as they had not been heavily involved in knitting to that point and I had a strong knitting background. My role then expanded into more development work where for example, I worked on a projects developing woven and extruded products such as our flexible micro drip irrigation solution and a range of stitch bonded products for the Composite POD. 

 

Have you seen many changes during your 15 years at Scott and Fyfe?

In regards to change, employee ownership has been a big change in the company over the past few years and it really was a step in the right direction as it is beneficial for both the company and employees.

Another key change over my time is that the company is now more innovative, we tap into the resources that we always had but never used. An example of this would be that we now take advantage of the varied skills of our employees and this has resulted in drastic changes from the markets we go after to the way we now recruit new and different types of people.

 

Is there anything interesting about yourself others might not know?

There's lots, I was previously a member of the Arbroath Royal British Legion Pipe Band as a part of the drum core. I never set out to join this but whilst taking my son to his lessons there was a space available and a need to fill it so I stepped in. After that I kept going back and enjoyed it thoroughly for many years. In doing this we became Grade 4B Champions in 2001 and I was fortunate enough to play my last gig centre spot on Murrayfield for a Scotland Vs Italy match!!

I also used to break and school horses alongside my day job which is fairly different.

 

What has been the highlight of your time at Scott and Fyfe so far?

We used to make a side impact air bag product and the previous owner of Scott & Fyfe wanted to film the whole testing process which was to increase the pressure until the bag burst. So he brought in his camera and three of us tested this constantly from 9am to 3pm with no breaks, painstakingly increasing the pressure by 0.01 bar at a time. Finally the bag burst at 3pm… only for us to realise he hadn’t taken the lens off of the camera so had shot nothing the entire day!! I think his exact words were “well guys, I will see you again tomorrow morning” I have never laughed so much in my life.

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Written by Guest Blogger

Over a three month period we want to introduce you to the owners of Scott & Fyfe – the employees!

Therefore, each Wednesday we will be sharing one to one interviews with 12 of our employee owners so that you can get to know us a little better.

Now in the third week of our employee profiles, please meet Michelle Quadrelli, Business Director of our Pipe Fabric Technology POD. 

 

Can you please tell us a little about yourself and what you do?

Hello, I am Michelle Quadrelli my role in the company is Business Director for our Pipe Fabric Technology POD. I am entrusted with the leadership of this business area and look after the customer base, performance and strategic growth. Market areas range from irrigation to infrastructure repair.

 

How long have you worked at Scott and Fyfe?

I have worked here for over 12 years now. As a Textile Design graduate from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, Dundee University, I started working with Scott & Fyfe in 2003. Over that time I have worked in various roles. I started with the company as Sales & Marketing Assistant and progressed through our Sales & Marketing Department to Sales & Marketing Manager. I then moved into a Business Management role before taking on my current role as Business Director.

 

Have you seen many changes during your 12 years at Scott and Fyfe?

There have been a lot of changes during my time here. In fact I can’t think of many things that haven’t changed. The most significant changes I have seen has been our company structure and way of working along with the move to Employee Ownership.

 

Our change in structure allowed Scott & Fyfe to move from a traditional textile company to a design led enterprise with innovation at our core. I have moved from working within an enclosed single office environment to being based within an open plan inspiring innovation space working alongside colleagues from different areas, experience and backgrounds in multi-functional teams. The move from departments to our Pod Structure has also given me the opportunity to personally progress with my career and enabled me to start up a completely new business within Scott & Fyfe which focusses on Pipe Fabric Technology. All the products we make within this business area, we did not make 5 years ago and it has been the fastest growing business area within Scott & Fyfe.

 

Changing from family ownership to employee ownership has really supported our change in structure. Employees or should I say shareholders feel empowered to speak up and influence how the business is run and suggestions on improvements that could be made are welcomed. Returns on our efforts and hard work go straight back to us as individuals.

  

Is there anything interesting about yourself others may not know?

I was the Primary 7 badminton champion at school.  I was also born with no knuckles for the pinkie fingers on both my hands, weird I know!

 

What has been the highlight of your time at Scott & Fyfe so far?

There has been many highlights at S&F however one of my main highlights was winning the Phillip Baxendale Employee Innovation Award in 2012. I was nominated by our chairman Nick Kuenssberg for the communications campaign that I put together for the announcement to our employees that we would be moving to employee ownership. It was a great campaign I was privileged to be involved with and as well as creating a separate website for employees on Employee Ownership, I also created boarding passes for each employee to receive during the announcement, which had tear off shareholder business cards and a ticket for their journey to employee ownership.

 

 

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About Us

With innovation, diversity and partnership at the heart of our company’s ethos, Scott & Fyfe have been designing and producing a vast range of technical textiles for numerous market areas worldwide for almost 150 years. Our ability to design and manufacture products for both current and future market needs have allowed us to build a global reputation for excellence in both quality and service.

Scott & Fyfe
Tayport Works, Links Road, Tayport, Fife, Scotland
DD6 9EE

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