Team New Zealand's innovation helped and hindered by budget

Skipper Glenn Ashby and helmsman Peter Burling enjoy the ride on Team New Zealand's cycle-powered AC50 in Bermuda.
SUPPLIED

Skipper Glenn Ashby and helmsman Peter Burling enjoy the ride on Team New Zealand's cycle-powered AC50 in Bermuda.

In the race between a team who could barely pay its staff and one backed by one of the world's richest billionaires, innovation has been touted as the secret to success.

But views on whether necessity was the mother of innovation at the America's Cup differ from "bollocks" to resource constraints possibly being an advantage.

Emirates Team New Zealand beat defenders Oracle Team USA 7-1 on Tuesday to regain the America's Cup they had last held in 2003.

Auckland University graduate school of management lecturer Ben Fath says resource constraints can force a fresh look on ...
SUPPLIED

Auckland University graduate school of management lecturer Ben Fath says resource constraints can force a fresh look on well-known problems.

Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton had struggled to keep the syndicate afloat after losing to the same team in 2013 in San Francisco.

READ MORE:
Innovation helped win the America's Cup, and Team NZ will continue to improve
Team New Zealand believe 'revolutionary' boat can win America's Cup 
America's Cup class yachts are basically aircraft wings balancing on surfboards
America's Cup teams urged to spy as technology ramps up

The Government gave the team a $5 million grant to keep them going but decided against any further assistance following pressure about using public money for a private team.

Massey University school of management senior lecturer James Lockhart says innovation is linked to wealth.
SUPPLIED

Massey University school of management senior lecturer James Lockhart says innovation is linked to wealth.

Reduced wages, salaries nearly not being paid, the sale of key equipment and the saving grace of late sponsorships and investments were all part of the Team New Zealand story.

But many have said they still managed to produce the most innovative boat, despite their comparatively shoestring budget.

Auckland University graduate school of management lecturer Ben Fath, who did not follow the sailing too much, said resource constraints could help innovation in the right circumstances.

He said there were four types of innovation, which included engineering, science, consumer experience, and efficiency.

Ad Feedback

Team New Zealand fell into the engineering category, where tight resources could have a disciplining effect which gave them a competitive advantage.

This was because it all came down to finding a unique solution to a well understood problem.

"New Zealand engineering firms are particularly good at having a fresh look at things," Fath said.

"They've really executed on this."

Replacing shoulder grinders with cycle posts had been "pure genius" and showed the type of innovation created in a resource constrained environment.

A lack of money could not generally be an advantage, he said, but when linked to a specific problem could give you an edge.

Having to build one boat, rather than 500, had also helped.

But Massey University school of management senior lecturer James Lockhart said the idea a lack of resources could be good for innovation was "bollocks, to put it mildly".

"If we look around the world, the most impoverished people are absolutely the least innovative."

Lockhart said wealthier societies had higher rates of innovation and there was no evidence that New Zealand was even an innovative country.

"We're probably getting worse."

But he said there would still be an immense amount of value for the country out of Team New Zealand's win.

We were just too quick to attribute an underdog win to a story of innovation, he said.

 - Stuff

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback