The first question I’m usually asked is about the name of my business. It normally goes something like this: “Spitfire Innovations? Where did that name come from?”
I normally answer that my son suggested the name and everyone in the family liked it, so it stuck.
And that’s true, but the complete answer is a bit more complex; it’s a two-part answer.
When I was younger I dreamed about flying, and in my dreams the plane I flew was the Spitfire. My parents both served oversees with the Canadian Forces in WWII and I suppose part of their experience resonated within me. Back in the late 1970s (!) when I learned to fly and I was puttering around in Cessna 150s and 172s, somewhere in the back of my mind I was pretending I was in a Spitfire. (It didn’t help that one of my flight instructors, Marion Orr, was a Spitfire ferry pilot during WWII. You can read her story here.) Even when my direction changed and I started down the information technology path the Spitfire stayed with me; a picture of a Spitfire MkV graced the wall of my first cubicle. But while the Spitfire has a place in my heart, what it really represents is what I hope to achieve with this company.
The Spitfire was the most significant airplane produced by Britain during the WWII, and arguably one of the most significant ever. As a piece of technology it had a remarkable lifespan, from its first test flight in 1936 to finally being retired from operational service (from the Syrian Air Force) in 1953. But it was not only long-lived, it was flexible, with over 24 major operational versions being produced as well as countless smaller variations. The fundamental robustness of design of the airframe, particularly its distinctive elliptical wing allowed the design of Spitfire to evolve and improve during the war. Problems were encountered and problems were fixed. Everything about the plane changed; the engine, the armament, even the materials used to construct it. And as the plane evolved its characteristics changed and its capabilities changed. This flexibility allowed the plane to be used in numerous roles, from a single seat fighter (made famous by its role in the Battle of Britain), to reconnaissance, to ground support as a fighter bomber. Spitfires even flew off aircraft carriers.
The Spitfire epitomizes what I believe is the essence of good design and innovation; a design that can evolve and extend far beyond what was it intended to be and become something better.
This is what Spitfire Innovations will do for its clients – to build a solid foundation that can be scaled, extended and leveraged far into the future. To maximize the investment by delivering value not just for months, but for years and years. By building into the design capability for change. To exceed expectations. To go above and beyond.
Wish me luck.