CLEAR IDEAS innovation model brings £1.7 million savings for Sheffield

— 21.09.15

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) have highlighted how the CLEAR IDEAS innovation development model has led to savings of £1.7million for social care services in Sheffield, through improved cost-efficiency in service delivery.

CLEAR IDEAS, developed by Dr Kamal Birdi of the Management School is a training model to encourage innovation within organisations, based on findings & analysis from a series of research projects about the barriers and facilitators for such innovation.

“CLEAR IDEAS is a way of tackling problems more creatively. It’s not just a way of helping you come up with more ideas; it will also help you pick which ideas to take forward and will assist you in putting those ideas into practice more effectively.”

Dr Kamal Birdi

“Lots of innovations or creative efforts fail because the individual doesn’t come up with enough original ideas, doesn’t know how to pick which ideas to take forward, can’t get buy-in to their ideas or know how to implement them.

“As a result, some potentially great ideas fail because creativity and innovation aren’t taken into account well enough. So what the CLEAR IDEAS approach does is it helps develop the skills and knowledge in people in terms of how to tackle problems creatively, and come up with an innovation.

“The app is a way of embedding that process that you can carry out yourself – give it a problem, and it will take you through ten steps you need to go through to come up with new ideas, picking those ideas, and coming up with a strategy for implementing them.”


South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue used CLEAR IDEAS’s creative-thinking techniques to make improvements in the fitting of 19,000 smoke alarms, with a cost-saving in materials alone of three pence per unit. In addition, the simple and effective solution which was adopted led to a reduced need for trained staff when refitting previously poorly-installed smoke alarms.

Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust used CLEAR IDEAS techniques to influence the adoption of an alternative drug for gastric medication. Savings of £10,000 per year were estimated to have been made by the Trust, due to more accurate administration, dosage and patient compliance.

A training resource including the CLEAR IDEAS model was developed in 2010 to enhance the leadership and skills of public sector managers and employees. Since introduction, 216 people from local councils, NHS Trusts, the police, fire and rescue service, educational institutions and other local services have participated.

About the research

During CLEAR IDEAS training workshops, innovative ideas are generated and memorised using the concept of IDEAS (Illuminate, Detail, Erupt, Assess, Select), drawing on problem-solving research. The second stage of the model, CLEAR (Commit, Lead, Engage, Align, Review), supports the process of implementing the ideas.

The research was undertaken by Dr Birdi as research fellow at the ESRC Centre for Organisation and Innovation. Central to the development of the CLEAR IDEAS model was a study of 500 UK organisations and their innovation activities, followed by reviews for the Department of Trade and Industry’s 2003 UK Innovation Review, and several studies evaluating the impact of creativity training in organisations.

Find out more about Kamal’s research here.


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