The 'CLEAR IDEAS' innovation development model has improved cost-efficiency in service delivery for public sector organisations - leading to savings of £1.7 million for social care services in Sheffield.


  • An estimated £1.7 million saving was made by Sheffield City Council by introducing cost-effective and more efficient practices in the delivery of adult social care services.
  • 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 3p 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.
  • CLEAR IDEAS techniques were used to influence the adoption of an alternative drug for gastric medication in Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust. 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

CLEAR IDEAS is a training model to encourage innovation, based on findings and analysis from a series of research projects about the barriers and facilitators for organisational innovation. During 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 Kamal Birdi at Sheffield University Management School 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.