The billion dollar innovation question – and even better, the answer!
What do these companies have in common?
Kraft’s Miracle Whip
This was the question posed to an audience of NW manufacturers, who had gathered at the Manchester training suite of the Manufacturing Institute to benefit from the crucial and timely advice of the Survive and Thrive series of lectures.
Dr Adegoke Oke, Associate Director, CPIQ Arizona State University, USA headed up the innovation session of the series and revealed to a packed auditorium why right now, in the midst of a recession, is the best time to innovate. It is now that the customer is truly scrutinising all of our business offerings for every USP, for every snatch of additional value.
And so it is now that innovation in processes and products is needed to keep those customers. Oke further pointed out that the innovations seized in this climate are likely to be the ones that will have real longevity, having been forged in the fires of such harsh market conditions.
If you hadn’t worked it out yet, I would hope that last clue made the pieces fit. The companies above, all famous global brands in 2009, saw their own development emerge from the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Dr Oke’s lesson for all being that innovation, good innovation, such as these companies displayed almost 80 years ago, is not a luxury of boom time but a necessary response to economic storms.
This perspective is, of course, not a panacea, and drawing on his many years experience as both an academic with Cranfield and Arizona Universities and as an industrialist with Shell and Allied Steel, Dr Oke offered the assembled businesspeople the secrets of developing and implementing the sort of innovation that will hopefully see those companies still going strong in 2090.
The key is to fully understand why you need to innovate and to understand that you need to have a clear picture of where your business sits on the innovation landscape and product maturity maps, such as the one above.
There are many innovation strategies you might adopt, several you could adopt, but, if we learn anything from the expert, it is that there are only a few that you should adopt, to tackle the real issues for your individual business. And don’t be put off by the word. Innovation is not something for multinationals with sprawling R&D departments. Innovation is just doing something, anything, differently for the better.
Here’s some highlights:
You can see a full version of the highly interactive sessions presented by Dr Adegoke Oke at www.manufacturinginstitute.co.uk/survive where you can apply his innovation lessons to your company and get some invaluable help in getting innovation started and making it a success.