Welcome to the first Friday post of the Innovation Engineering blog, where will be offering you tips and ideas for acting on innovation each week.
A great question to start with for innovation is, “Where are you on the curve?” Think about your division, your department, your product, your company…your career. Are you just starting out? Have you hit your peak of highest profits and greatest returns? Are you on the downside? Honestly, wherever you are on the curve doesn't matter. Innovation can restart your profitability no matter where you are.
When we talk about innovation though we aren't talking about minor changes to a current product in order to reboot and restart you need to have an idea that is Meaningfully Unique. Meaningful to three: you (the inventor), the customer (either external or internal) and the company. Unique meaning new to the world something that has never been done before.
I was recently reading Fast Company's list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2017. There were people on the list that no one would be shocked to see the brilliant minds behind Facebook, Google, Apple, but as I read further, Clorox? Really, Clorox? I bring this up because YES, innovation is breakthrough - YES, it can be game changing, but does it have to be flashy and mind blowing? NO, it just has to solve a real problem. Remember what I stated earlier it has to be Meaningfully Unique to 3: you, the customer, and the company.
Clorox literally hit the marketplace over 100 years ago being marketed almost exactly as it is today, "bleacher, germicide, cleanser and disinfectant." Here is the thing, the marketplace has changed in today's world - it smells bad, it causes skin and eye irritation, and bleach must be rinsed and rinsed well to not cause surface damage. Those are REAL problems. Denise Garner, Chief Innovation Officer at Clorox saw the set up with deaths from health-care associated infection on the rise due to resilient bacteria and healthcare workers avoiding the use of bleach. Instead of bracing for the decline she took the opportunity to act. According to the article she decided to attack the issues and attack them head on - what if they could eliminate the skin issues and extra rinsing work. As a result in 2016 they introduced Clorox Healthcare Fuzion. A bleach product that breaks down shortly after it is applied.
So, I pose the following questions to you:
1. When do you plan to restart?
2. What problem can you solve?