"We had to deliver 2.5 years work in 6 weeks"

Inside lessons from the UK's Ventilator Challenge.

by Frazer Bennett

As I was toasting the start of a new decade this year, I made a new year’s resolution to do more to make the world a better place. At the time, I imagined that would involve trying to use less plastic or pushing my team to do more work in sustainability. I didn’t think it would involve redirecting RAF aircraft to collect vital components for life-saving ventilators.

Yet, as the coronavirus pandemic took hold, that’s what I had to do to ensure the UK Ventilator Challenge could innovate fast enough to save lives. In just 12 weeks, this incredible collaboration between public and private organisations manufactured more than 13,000 new ventilators. We designed and developed three new devices, and got them approved by the medical regulator, and scaled the production of an existing device from a 150 a year to 400 a day.

This wasn’t a project any of the thousands of participants could ever have prepared for. But it is one we can all learn from. As the pace of change in the world accelerates, leaders can apply three lessons to quicken their innovation processes.

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