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The industrial textile industry has gone through difficult times in recent years with many struggling to survive. Scott & Fyfe have been no different and some five years ago we watched our traditional business go into decline and plummet off the bottom of the graph. This made Scott & Fyfe really sit up and take notice, realising that in order to survive we needed to adapt and react to new opportunities but at the time we were not sure how.


Developing the Now Team with GlasgowSchool of Art (GSA)


NOW logo 



As this realisation occurred our Chairman, Nick Kuenssberg, heard that a Glasgow School of Art (GSA) team were working on a new innovation programme and made contact with them. As a result, the S&F NOW team (New Opportunities Within) was created and dispatched to GSA in order to learn all they could about ideation, innovation and opportunity spotting.


Historically, new ideas had been the domain of a certain few within S&F and were kept within the confines of what we knew or thought we knew. What GSA did was to encourage and empower members of the NOW team to think outside of their normal constraints.


As a member of this myself, we were given carte blanche to look at anything and everything, with many of us finding that as individuals we had more to offer than we had previously believed. We also realised that as a team we could tackle almost any problem. A huge part of this process was learning the Innovation Tools from GSA.

There were plenty of these, more of which can be found in our Innovation Toolkit but my personal Top 5 are:


1. Six Hats

Six hats is a discussion tool, which facilitates more productive and creative meetings. It is a simple metaphor for putting on your different thinking hat. For example, if a person is wearing the yellow hat they must be optimistic and hopeful whereas if they are wearing the white hat they must be objective and provide facts and figures.


2. Brainstorming

A good brainstorm session generates a lot of different ideas. During a brainstorm there is no filtering, no judgement and certainly no such thing as a bad idea!



POINT is an acronym of useful words to use in order to organise your thoughts after a brainstorming session. It allows you to group things together, draw conclusions and consider things in greater detail. The acronym stands for:


  • Problems
  • Opportunities
  • Insights
  • Needs
  • Themes


4. Dotocracy

This is a great method to narrow down ideas. Each person is allocated a number of dots (usually 3) and they then use the dots to vote for their favourite ideas. This method allows everyone to be heard equally and is a fast and effective filtering method. 



SCAMPER is an acronym for a useful list of words that prompt you to further develop an idea to its full potential by covering each of the letters within. It stands for:


  • Substitute
  • Combine
  • Adapt
  • Modify
  • Put to another use
  • Eliminate
  • Rearrange


Putting the Innovation Tools to Use


 We created a metaphorical hopper (funnel) filled with ideas and using the tools developed with GSA we selected our target markets and products. After this we then set about bringing these to fruition.


Many of the ideas were way of the mark but we were not overly concerned as we had adopted the fail fast philosophy and as we are always putting new ideas into our hopper, we could quickly replace the failed ideas with new and potentially better ones. The tools allowed us to quickly put meat on the bones of theses ideas and make informed decisions on whether or not to take these forward.


As a result of this new innovation – led strategy and rapid prototyping, we have managed to successfully put around thirty new products into the market place in the 5 years since we began this process.


For more information on this, have a look at the GSA and S&F Culture Of Innovation; New Opportunities Within book. These tools have allowed us to work more effectively with our new and existing customers, developing innovative textile solutions to problems that would not have been considered before.


We have also held workshops with various blue chip companies, working in partnership with them to generate ideas and also to teach them these innovative and creative tools that we use. If you would like to work with us in this way or learn more - get in touch! 



Written by Peter Thomson


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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

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