Daniel Kenning, Splendid Engineering

We can do this thing that is good for the world
of today and tomorrow

Daniel Kenning, a splendid engineer


Name of business: Splendid Engineering and GATE (Global Association for Transitional Engineering – co-founder)
Creator: Daniel Kenning
Years in business: Since 2001
Specialty: Transition engineering
Location: Essex
Reach: International
Key to success: Education, networking, collaboration
Greatest asset: Having been taught how to think differently

Sustainability – from a “nice to have” but a sine qua non for the survival of humanity

I’ve heard about Daniel Kenning from another contact at the Ideas Hub. They suggested I checked his website and that he might be an interesting brand for my project.

He is on a quest of changing the way the world thinks about sustainability and its practices. He begins with business management, but wants his idea to change nations. Can he do it? Impressive row of letters behind his name  and the fact that he is cooperating with Susan Krumdieck, Professor in Mechanical Engineering at Canterbury University in New Zealand says ‘yes’.

Today he’s patiently developing assets to make a real change. Revolutions may be impressive, but he wants to initiate a gentler process – start from where you are and improve the world, step by step.

Going through the GATE

Imagine you need to go through a small doorway. You don’t bend by 1% this year and 3% next season. If you really want to get through, you will adjust your position to fit the frame and go to the other side. Otherwise you get stuck.

That, in a nutshell, is what transition engineering is about. Changing what’s un-sustainable into a format that allows the change to happen. It does involve logistics, systems, management – across the board. This transformation includes all industries – not only automotive, not only oil and gas. It may well start with them and their adjustments may be more visible than changes small offices make, but it includes us all. It’s about systems that we as businesses, and ultimately as individuals, depend on.

Going ‘green’ is ok, but you can do more

You have to realise one thing – sustainability is not synonymous with being vegetarian and drinking fair trade coffee. Managing resources is not a green policy, its logic. “If you look at the whole history of engineering since the industrial revolution, every generation of engineers has delivered more, but they have had more and more resources to use, and in the future our challenge is going to be delivering enough rather than just always more and more – with less resources.” Transition Engineering is a strategy to help business adapt to the new order, which is inevitably coming.

This change has begun, but the process is slow. That is why Daniel is cooperating with Professor Krumdieck, with whom he’s co-creating GATE – Global Association for Transition Engineering.
(By the way, he found her when he first used the phrase ‘transition engineering’ and, according to Google, she was the only other person using this term. He approached her and now they are collaborating on a project, supporting each other’s efforts to educate and increase the profile of their brands.)

GATE to the future

GATE is going to be a charity, driving the change, bringing it to our, the public’s, attention. I think it’s a fitting strategy to grow the brand which product is relevant to all. Still, they were able to find their niche and are working their way up from there. It’s another example of how being focused helps you make more impact and eventually increases your reach.

Hopefully, it will lead to fulfilling their business ambitions – advising the UK government on transition engineering. “These days engineers are a bit too timid, I think.” – admits Daniel. “We need to get back to that level where the policy makers phone us up to asks us what they should do.”

Protesting against a chemical factory is not part of the plan

Although he mentions Isambard Kingdom Brunel(1) and Michael Browngart(2)  as engineering icons, he believes protesting is not the right way to make lasting developments. He wants to begin a dialog that will lead to sustainable change.

However, I think he will need some of Brunel’s(1) and Browngart’s(2) imagination-grabbing power to help this cause. And de Bono’s(3) ability to teach lateral thinking as a skill.

Having said that, for the quest that he dedicated his career to, he is my brand hero.

My lesson from this conversation
– speaking plainly, no matter how technical the ‘behind the scenes’ language is
– seek partnerships, even from the other side of the world
– aim high

You may want to look up:
Michael Braungart
Jonathon Porritt
Richard Branson
Edward do Bono

Elements of a strong brand:
  • imagination-grabbing vision
  • speaking plainly, no matter how technical the ‘behind the scenes’ language is
  • staying relevant

You can win much better by campaigning for something than campaigning against something

Splendid Engineering logo

Find out more about Daniel Kenning and Splendid Engineering by visiting splendidengineering.co.uk



1. Isambard Kingdom Brunel marched to the Westminster, to stand in the Houses of Parliament to influence the change of the law, enabling him to build the railway from London to Bristol.

2. When Michael Braungart was a young man, in his twenties, he climbed at the top of the chimney at the BASF chemical factory to force them to switch off the factory, it was on Christmas Eve in Cologne, Germany. He managed to have a private conversation with the Chief Executive, who climbed the chimney as well, and he promised to shut down the company, even if Michael Braungart wasn’t at the top of the chimney.

3. Edward de Bono is credited with inventing the concept of Lateral Thinking and world leader of teaching of thinking as a skill.