As part of our Intelligently Rebellious series, Big Radical was delighted to host nine exemplary business leaders at our inaugural 'Radical Thinkers' event recently held at Dinner by Heston in London’s Knightsbridge.
The combination of an exquisite venue, mind-blowing cuisine, intelligent rebelliousness and enlightening conversation made for an evening that I know will not be forgotten for any of those who attended.
During the evening our minds and taste-buds were taken on a twisting journey of discovery and challenges. Having had time to digest the evening (in every sense), some key learnings definitely appeared.
Innovation needs a good sommelier
I am not a wine-buff. I enjoy it and usually know what I like – but on arrival at the venue I was presented with a mind-boggling wine list of what must have been 300 types of Red, White and Fizz.
Immediately – I panic! What should I choose? What is our budget? What if I make the wrong choice? What if I look uneducated and uniformed in front of my peers?
Enter the Sommelier. Within minutes of talking to him, allowing him to understand our ambitions for the night, our budget, our guests: we had made the right choice. He didn’t choose for us; we chose. But his expertise made this possible.
On speaking to our guests during the evening, it became clear that this is common issue for those wanting to be more radical or transformative in their business: what do these terms mean; where do you start; how do I not blow my budget; how do I not look like a fool?
Our recommendation? Get an Innovation Sommelier (like Big Radical) to help you on this journey. Small steps, careful choices, intelligently decisive and based off genuine needs.
Let’s face it, buying a £500 bottle of paint-stripping plonk isn’t what you want to be famous for!
'New World' vs 'Old World' wines
As said, I am no connoisseur, but the trend is clear: rapid growth in new wine regions globally with sales often outstripping the traditional wine strongholds of Europe. A lot of the success is down to new business models challenging traditional techniques: larger scale production, changes to taste, less complexity, different marketing and brand messaging.
But the world keeps turning. New wine-producing regions like China, Lebanon and even the UK are growing both in terms of scale and reputation. (NB: We chose an English White and a South African Red on the day). So, when do 'New World Wines' become old?
Our guests were also struggling with new business models impacting their ways of working. Threats and disruption from new entrants are real. We do believe however, that any business can update and progress the business model. Many traditional European vineyards are using new technologies to aid with agriculture, using AI to improve “terroir” decisions and supporting their products with digital companions.
Old World doesn’t mean extinct: it means it has a heritage, a brand and an expertise that cannot be replicated.
Collaboration leaves a good taste in the mouth
The Starter. Meat Fruit. Yes, you heard that right. Meat Fruit.
Through explanation by our host for the evening, it is inspired by a British recipe of the 1300’s called "Pome Dorres" ("apples of gold") and was a playful and mischievous culinary tradition.
It was amazing and my highlight of the meal; the unexpected combination of look and flavour meshed perfectly together.
The “Radical Thinkers” who attended craved this “meshing” in the workplace. They found that often they couldn’t get the flavours to combine, struggled to find the right ingredients and often had to force the pieces together to form more of a medieval Cockatrice than an “Apple of Gold”.
At Big Radical, we champion collaboration and experimentation. We believe that innovative thinking only happens in a collaborative environment and the true power of innovation is unlocked by the bringing together of different skills, knowledge, experience and culture.
Old classics can still be improved
For main course, I moved onto the rather uninspiring sounding choice of Steak and Chips.
This was a strange choice for me as I would never choose this in my local gastro-pub: I find it a bit dull. However, I was inspired to see how the self-proclaimed culinary alchemist Heston, would spin this classic.
And boy did he! Marrow-bone pieces, triple-cooked chips and mushroom ketchup transformed the safe and traditional fare into something I have never tasted before.
The attendees at the dinner had a recurring challenge; how to transform traditional (often engineering-led businesses) into something more digital focused and exciting to the palates of today’s customers.
This is a true use-case for radical thinking. Big Radical works with our clients to consider new ways of thinking, making rapid and meaningful breakthroughs so that the heritage, tradition and strength of the “classic” business can be experienced by more and more people.
Early engagement = rapid (and tipsy) results
Time for the dessert. Tipsy Cake. The flagship recipe of the restaurant. A type of bread-and-butter pudding with a spit roast pineapple companion; dating back to a cookery book by J.H. Walsh from 1810.
It was lovely. Hot, gooey, sweet and decadent.
When the guests chose this option from the menu at the beginning of the feast, our host warned that this treat takes 45 minutes to cook. I have heard this said in other restaurants before for other dishes and I have waited for a long time for said meal to arrive.
On this night, the dessert turned up within 5 – 10 mins of the meal finishing. Perfection in flavour and timing.
Our guests, spoke a lot about injecting pace into their business, scaling at speed etc. Tipsy Cake took 45 mins to cook. Fact. But no-one waited. This wasn’t about adding pace into the production process – but about understanding demand, anticipating needs and getting early insights.
This is something we champion at Big Radical. Learning quickly and working intelligently so the right outcomes happen at the right time. Because let’s face it...no-one wants to wait for pudding!
Overall, it was a fantastic evening and the parallels between traditional thinking and new disruptions were so strikingly clear.
Neal Archbold is head of innovation and strategy at Big Radical
If you’re a Radical Thinker and would like the opportunity to join our Intelligently Rebellious series, pop your name, organisation and subject line ‘Intelligently Rebellious’ in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll keep you updated with our next event.