11 Nov

Do you see INNOVATION in your dots?

Join the dots

Picture by Fastcompany.com

Steve Jobs and Richard Branson talk about joining the dots when they talk about innovation. The ‘What is Innovation” video is such a great explanation of seeing and connecting the dots relating to innovation from “Simply Explain”.

I often debate innovation with clients. What is it? How do you do it? How can we get better at it? and How can we make money from it?

Innovation is not about focusing on designing new systems, services or products. Firstly it is about looking at your dots and seeing how you can join them in such a way as to be able to create a unique service or product offering. Secondly it is about looking at your current or potential customers and joining their dots in such a way as to be able to create a unique service or product offering for them or their business.

BUT mostly it is about looking at your dots and those of your customer and joining them in such a way as to add unexpected value to your customer. If you get it right they will willingly pay you for that added value. Just look at how the teams at Apple and Virgin connected their dots resulting in innovations that their customers willingly paid them for.

The best definition I have found is that Innovation is ‘creating new value or capturing value in a new way’. It should be simple, practical and saleable delivering a positive effective change.

Earlier this year I discussed how to create innovations you can sell by thinking backwards. http://afrilean.com/think-backwards-to-create-innovations-you-can-sell/

I hope this helps you connect your dots.

05 Oct

Super powers grow your GP%

ab212faa2fb1e56a08eb9984407d561bEarlier this year I had the privilege to facilitate and present at a Strategic Sales conference. The theme of the conference was ‘we all have ability – the difference is how you use it’. Fascinating discussions arose around individual skills and strengths (their super powers) and how to use them in the business as a whole rather than limit them to a specific branch. As in system thinking the true power of a business is recognised when people start working together towards a common goal. (The group/system is more powerful that the sum of the parts) In the process the team communicated across multiple levels and the fresh ideas and innovations put forward were used in developing a strategy execution plan. The result has been a 15% increase in GP over 6 months.

The 7 steps to maximising your super powers are:

  1. Know yourself. Understand what your strengths are  and just as importantly what your weaknesses are.
  2. Talk to others in your team and find out what their strengths and weaknesses are. You might need to go first to make the communication more transparent.
  3. Identify your business goals. What do you want to have done by the end of the year to achieve your strategy. Companies often call these CSF’s or critical success factors.
  4. As a team look at your strengths (in the team) and plan on how to best use these to achieve your business goals.
  5. Identify what weaknesses you have in the team and how you can reduce or eliminate them using the team strengths.
  6. Draw up a plan of action showing actions, responsible people and time lines.
  7. Measure progress monthly. Often plans need to be fine tuned because of changes in the company, market, customer or competitor.


18 Jun

LEAN Empowerment!

Lean EmpowermentHow do you create an ’empowerment zone’?…a place where people can take ownership of their workplace. This includes being able to influence decisions and actions related to your work as well as the look and feel of your workplace.

Socrates said “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” LEAN tools are the quickest and most sustainable way to empower teams to take back ownership of their workplace .

A good example of this is a recent project we did using the 5S Workplace Organisation and S.M.E.D. tools to help the team take ownership of their workplace.  It is a story many have heard before…ineffective multi-level communication leading to lack of accountability and teams performing below their potential.

Step 1 was to get the team to be able to influence decisions made regrading their workplace layout and equipment maintenance through visual communications. Using 5S’s they planned their workplace layout, cleared out all unnecessary items and plotted where everything should go. By demarcating ‘parking bays’  with yellow floor tape they ensured that support services always placed the bins and palettes in the same place resulting in reduced clutter and always having materials in place. Red tags were used to identified equipment faults and to generate job cards for the maintenance team to plan repairs. Action lists showing work to be done are displayed on their notice board and are discussed and updated daily.

Step 2 was to have the team create their own benchmarks regarding performance. Continually competing against yourself and focusing on beating your previous best creates a ‘winning culture’. Beating the world record is the eventual target. The team are busy creating process maps for each changeover and are already looking at ways to improve the initial times logged. They have also developed housekeeping, lubrication and operations maintenance  schedules.

After a week the team has identified 18 improvements, which they want to implement in their workplace. They have prioritised them, posted them on their notice board and have an execution plan for the first two. Operator and maintenance teams are talking to each other about equipment improvements and discussions are being held with support services on how they can assist in improving the overall performance. The team is starting to take charge…a great thing to see.LEAN logo