Standardization and Innovation

I not only enjoyed this Fast Company Co.Design article 5 Ways That Standardization Can Lead To Innovation, but I also enjoyed the quote that a reader included in his response to the post:

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask a creative person how they did something, they may feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after awhile. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or have thought more about their experiences than other people have. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. They don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions, without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better designs we will have.”    – Steve Jobs

In the Co.Design article, the author, Henry King, contends that extreme order can beget great breakthroughs and achieve true innovation in business. Mr. King offers examples of companies that have achieved great changes (and become industry leaders) by implementing the following:

  1. Standard Processes: create a single operational model to greatly improve customer satisfaction, reduce costs, increase employee job satisfaction and achieve consistent business value
  2. Common Goals: create a culture that values collaboration, where employees work together on different parts of the same problem and take individual responsibility for the success of the organization
  3. Common Platforms: reduce variation to improve time to market and cut costs whose savings can be passed along to your customers
  4. Shared Values: a shared commitment to a common set of values can provide a highly differentiated service, delighting customers and driving loyalty as well as revenue growth
  5. Standard Interfaces: interchangeable parts reduce costs, simplify logistics, and increase efficacy of your products, which can also lead to more innovation and growth

Once your company decides to adopt one or more of the above, be sure to utilize the business value dials to ensure you have defined the success you are setting out to achieve, and have a mechanism to measure the impact of these changes on your organization.

About Michelle Smeby

Michelle Smeby is CEO of wHolistic Change, Inc. with more than 10 years of experience implementing enterprise solutions at Fortune 100 companies. Michelle specializes in helping corporations deliver transformational change.
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