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WILKINSON COUTTS / MATTHEWS INTEGRITY HUB: an up-to-the-minute information mix designed to help you with your lifework and career development in the asset integrity, inspection and NDE industries.

Matthew Petroleum Notes

The Innovator

You just wouldn’t believe how rare this top-notch contributor is. She has initiated new systems of doing things in most of the integrity companies she has worked in and is still doing so.

Introducing new ways of working into organisations is always difficult. Barriers to change, lack of ‘head-office buy-in’, cultural mismatches, administrative saboteurs and their naysayer friends are built into the very woodwork of many companies. She’s beaten them all, by treating them as the imposters that they really are; and all this without ever having worked in a department with the word Innovation in its name. That would be, as she describes it, the kiss of death. We welcome greatly her contributions to Matthews Integrity Hub: HEAD OFFICE website.

We asked the INNOVATOR to tell us something about the reasons for her success. Here are her own words on the subject;


The InnovatorAt a general level, an innovation has been defined as an idea, practice or object that people see as different (Zaltman & Wallendorf. 1983). I like to think there are three key features to it

• Innovation is more about application than invention

• The secret to innovation is curiosity

• Innovation resistance is the enemy within

To me, the most important of this list is the third one. It’s not that difficult to solve; to allow innovation to succeed, all you have to do is dismantle the model of innovation resistance that holds it back. Natural human curiosity and application will do the rest.

I worked in one Integrity Company in which stifling over-bearing tradition ruled the roost. Let’s call it Frak Ltd. All change was seen as being bad because it disturbed the status quo. Over the years, Frak Ltd had become stacked from top to bottom with change-deniers. The problem was that the world that Frak Ltd inhabited had moved on but Frak hadn’t moved with it. How would I solve this one? Firing all the change-deniers (the obvious solution) would leave the organisation with few staff, and no-one to fulfil the current contracts. Hiring other people to assist the change-deniers would simply turn the new recruits into change-deniers themselves, because that’s how things work. A tricky little problem some of you may just recognise.

I looked at the chain of events lurking behind the existence of this anti-innovation culture. I decided that people deny change because of insecurity. Security lies in the status quo, however feeble that status quo actually is. Looking at the next step in the chain was about deciding how the status quo in Frak Ltd actually manifested itself.

THERE IT WAS, in the form of multiple separate little departments, rivals in claustrophobia, each with its own little head honcho, with solid physical walls and closed doors between each department and the rest of the Frakkers outside. Nothing would ever change inside those walls; there it was; the source of the security.

TEAR DOWN THE WALLS. That solved about 70% of the problem of Frak Ltd overnight. No room dividers, no walls of plants, and no other physical space dividers at all; just desks and space in carefully designed random, anarchic disorder. Open-plan working gives immediate exponential increase of low level staff interaction., Cliques break up and rumours travel faster; everything feels just that little bit less secure because no-one knows exactly quite where they fit in. All we needed now was the reintroduction of a little order.


THE REWARD for proper participation in innovative activities is the security of the group. Ok we didn’t put the poster on the walls but the message was felt. You can reform into groups, but it comes at a price of active participation in a new innovative activity, whatever that may be. The walls, and original groups have gone people, and won’t be coming back, but space can still be divided …and groups? ...well, don’t we just love them as engines of innovation?

InnovationWe welcome greatly the contributions of THE INNOVATOR to Matthews Integrity hub: HEAD OFFICE website. She writes technical and integrity-career related stuff as well, try her thought-provoking article covering the world of Recruitment agencies ,fake jobs and exaggerated CVs

For those of you who think that innovation is something that only affects people who don’t have good old engineering codes and standards holding them back , then you’d better not read The Innovator’s article :Codes and Standards Futurewatch; you probably won’t like its message.