The following impact case study is an extract from ‘The Lens: A Qualitative Programme Review 2015-2019’, an independent evaluation completed by The Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship. The study provides insights into the impact that The Lens programme has with regards to the workforce, organisation and social innovation.

Young Enterprise Scotland participated in the 2019 Lens Shared Programme along with Columba1400 and Highland Hospice. This case study reflects their experiences and the impact that the programme had on their employees and enhancing their innovation culture.

Young Enterprise Scotland: An entrepreneurial-driven organisation

Young Enterprise Scotland are an entrepreneurial organisation that understands the value of all their employees. They offer enterprise and entrepreneurship programmes and development opportunities for young people across Scotland.

They have an energetic work culture that encourages creativity and innovation at all levels. By continuously investing in the professional development of their staff they encourage idea generation to improve the delivery of their services and the efficiency of their organisation.

The good ideas come from both the top and the lower reaches of the organisation, where people are engaging with the front-line issues.

Senior Leader, Young Enterprise Scotland

Working with The Lens: Motivations and Expectations

Young Enterprise Scotland engaged with The Lens Shared Programme to extend the entrepreneurial culture that they had built within their organisation. The Lens was a means to formalise some of their innovation practices.

A major motivation was also to continue to invest in the professional development of their staff. They believed the formal structure of the Lens programme was an opportunity to bring their staff engagement to the next level.

It was a good way to be entrepreneurial in practice, because we get in there and preach to everybody about enterprise and entrepreneurship. So, the link between what we do out there and being able to do something like the shared programme internally for entrepreneurship was a no brainer.

Senior Leader, Young Enterprise Scotland

The expectations of the senior leadership team for the programme were for staff to engage by developing new skills, knowledge and having a platform to showcase their creativity and innovation. They were also looking to improve teamwork and cross-organisation connections, as well as generating good quality ideas that could be considered to improve their services.

Impact of the Lens: Staff development and engagement

The Lens’ structured programme of workshops, support and engagement designed to develop and refine ideas directly increased the confidence and skills amongst participants, including:

  • Increasing innovative and creative idea skills
  • Increasing presentation and storytelling skills
  • Increasing participants understanding of markets and customer needs
  • Increasing analytical and critical decision-making skills
  • Increasing teamworking and communication skills
  • Increased staff confidence in their abilities

These skills can be transferred into the everyday job roles of participants. The social nature of the shared programme also helped participants to build confidence through interacting with peers from other organisations. This also encouraged the transfer of knowledge as participants got to learn about the approaches of other organisations.

The Lens programme also facilitated wider staff engagement, which included:

  • Increasing passion and commitment for their work
  • Feeling valued by organisation
  • Staff awareness of wider organisational elements
  • Gaining empathy and understanding of wider staff roles
  • Challenging non-engaged staff to move out of their comfort zone

Impact of the Lens: Organisation culture and innovation

The programme facilitated several benefits for the organisational culture. This included:

  • Creating a collective sense of enthusiasm and excitement
  • Improving communication across the organisation
  • Incentivising a creative and innovative atmosphere
  • Encouraging non-engagers to participate in workplace innovation and entrepreneurship

The shared nature of the programme with other organisations also encouraged cross-organisation learning and collaboration with service activities and personal development opportunities.

Additionally, the structured programme of workshops, support and engagement led to the development and refinement of social innovations that can improve the service delivery of YES. The ideas that developed within the programme met social problems. One idea that was funded addressed a social problem in education, by tackling the skills gap which sees less women going into technology fields.

This is an extract from: Dr Knox, S & Marin-Cadavid, C. 2019. ‘The Lens: A Qualitative Programme Review 2015-2019’. The Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship, University of Strathclyde.

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