Innovation Through a Wide-Angle Lens

Strategic Partner, Diane Janovsky really hits it out of the park with this different view of Innovation and Creativity, by providing some very interesting examples of not only how new product innovation is viable, but also ways to enhance the customer experience. Don’t miss reading this truly innovative Power Idea!

When business leaders think about innovation, what likely comes to mind is Research and Development for new and improved products and services such as a more effective spot remover, a faster technical application or a breakthrough pharmaceutical.

Clearly, this type of innovative effort is critical to staying competitive. However, when leadership expands their perspective and seeks to apply creativity more widely to the processes and systems that support the business, the result can be significant contributions to top line growth, cost savings and greater profitability.

INCREASING CUSTOMER VALUE

First, let’s look at opportunities for revenue enhancement. Rather than just expanding and making improvements to WHAT is sold to customers, it is important to look at HOW an offering is delivered.

Over and above the product or service itself, more value can be provided to clients by making interactions easier, less expensive, or more enjoyable. A superior customer experience leads to long-term loyalty, additional purchases and positive referrals.

The healthcare industry provides an excellent example. A patient with a sore throat, high fever and body aches needs to be evaluated and treated by a qualified medical provider as soon as possible.

Historically, that meant trying to make an appointment on short notice to see a doctor at their office, or the additional expense of a visit to the Emergency Department (E.D.) if the regular physician was not available.

However, more options now exist for HOW medical services are delivered to that patient.

* Telemedicine. Originally developed to meet the needs of remote populations, technology has enabled telemedicine to evolve into a viable option for providing immediate care for urgent but uncomplicated conditions. This approach improves service by reducing wait times and is also more cost-effective for providers and patients.
* Alternate Providers. More and more, nurse practitioners and physician assistants are the initial care providers for office visits, with doctors becoming involved only for more complex situations. Again, this model expands care availability and reduces wait times which is a customer satisfier.
* Urgent Care Centers. The number of Urgent Care Centers has increased, offering a much more convenient and much less expensive option than the E.D. when the family physician is unavailable.

The fundamentals of the service – diagnosis and treatment – remain the same across all 3 options, but the way the patient accesses the service varies. Offering alternatives is a win-win where patients benefit from quicker access, and providers benefit from more capacity at lower cost across the whole system.

REDUCING COSTS

A focus on innovation in internal processes and systems can significantly reduce costs and improve profitability. Let’s look at two examples of well-known companies to see how they have found creative ways to operate more efficiently and pass those savings along to their customers.

* Southwest Airlines Fleet
One of the most strategic and groundbreaking decisions that Southwest Airlines made at its inception was to fly only one type of aircraft – the Boeing 737. This novel concept is unique to the airline industry and it continues to yield benefits including less training for mechanics, commonality of spare parts, crew familiarity, and volume discounts on aircraft purchases.
* Costco Logistics
Costco can lay claim to a number of innovations in their industry, but a representative example is their decision in 2011 to revise their pallet specification. They proactively recognized that a stronger block pallet would avoid costly accidents on the dock or in a crowded store aisle; and the design allows pallet jack access from 4 sides rather than just 2, which reduces damage and improves operational efficiency.

Not surprisingly, both of these organizations are clear on their purpose and mission, and they invest in the processes that are core to sustaining their performance and growth.

TAKING A WIDER VIEW

Running a business effectively means managing both revenue and costs, so it makes sense to dedicate innovation resources to both sides of the profitability equation. In addition to traditional investment in developing products and services, opportunities abound for new ideas to grow revenue and reduce cost in both customer-facing and internal processes and systems across the organization.

How can you think differently about your organization and discover untapped possibilities for innovation? Begin by considering the above examples from healthcare, Southwest and Costco. Or contact us for a free consultation on how we can help you get started.



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