Innovation on a Galactic scale

Innovation on a Galactic scale

Thursday, October 20, 2016 Posted by Totally Gaming
Former Virgin Galactic President discusses outside innovation at EiG

While the gambling industry is more familiar with the Virgin brand via the online casino operation, visitors to this week’s EiG got a taste of one of another Virgin with even broader horizons.

Will Whitehorn is the ex-President of Virgin Galactic, a spaceflight company within the Virgin Group which is developing commercial spacecraft with the aim of providing flights for space tourists, and launches for both space science missions and small satellites.

Whitehorn delivered a presentation called ‘Innovation – Refuelling the rocket’ session at the EiG Expo in Berlin, talking about cultivating innovation outside of the gaming industry, and how lessons learned can be transferred into bringing innovations to the gaming market.

Most of the presentation focused on Whitehorn’s work with the Virgin Group, and his collaboration with entrepreneur’s such as Richard Branson and Freddie Laker. He stressed the importance of Branson learning to manage risk, and his preparedness to take a risk, as the most important things in the creation of an innovation culture at Virgin.

"If you are going to innovate, you have got to get rid of the innate fear of failure. The larger the corporate organisation is, the greater its fear of failure becomes."

He also discussed key learnings picked up by Branson from Laker, such as building a brand by spreading its name across various businesses, and finding unique selling points outside of price.

“Whatever you do with any innovation, you’ve got to combine quality with value for money. You can never ever just win on price in the long term, because somebody somewhere can always undercut you on price.”

With a ‘people first’ policy, the Virgin Group continues to thrive, as the people are more motivated to look after its customers. In turn, this leads to benefits being felt by the shareholders, who are no doubt impressed by Branson’s propensity for radical, and ultimately successful, innovation.

For example, the consecutive period of innovation applied to create a modern railway, with on-board entertainment, Wi-Fi and online ticket purchasing, and the ongoing Virgin Galactic project which is about to become commercial in time for an impending ‘industrial revolution in space’.

On the scope for wide-reaching innovation, Whitehorn asked: “How can it be that the man that brought you the Sex Pistols in 1977 would end up building the world’s first commercial spaceship?”

Totally Gaming says: Sometimes it can take an outside perspective to help point a firm in the right direction, so pointers on innovation from someone who headed up Virgin Galactic could prove to be valuable insight to the receptive person. The importance of taking calculated risks, even for the bigger companies, is not to brushed off. 

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