Tag Archives: innovation

mcwrongs

Here’s an industry secret worth billions. Consultants like to use the term “best practice” to describe what the rest of us would call a precedent—just a method that has worked, before, somewhere else.

This isn’t to say best practices are useless. Precedence is great when you understand the challenge you’re facing and want to repeat a solution—say, when you want to select brakes for a train (or brakes for anything, really) or when choosing an open heart surgeon. But if you’re trying to outpace competition, solve a long-term problem that doesn’t seem to go away, or tackle a challenge you’ve never seen before…applying precedent is not so helpful. Precedence is not disruption, and is not meant to be.

But too often, consultants dress up plain precedence and offer it as an ingenious driver of organizational change—a glaringly obvious contradiction. Most of the time, there’s nothing better about a “best” practice, and you could say that consultants have found a clever way of selling old rope for new prices.

The truth is, these precedents don’t offer the potential for ingenious ideas. They only replicate the past.  So, if you want to unlock new ideas—stop thinking right, and start thinking wrong.

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toxicThe problem-solving orthodoxies they teach you in business school kill ingenuity.

Greg Galle explains why at TEDxGrandRapids.

underwear

Innovationmania obsesses over the next new thing—products, services, business models and processes—not people. But people are where ingenious, market creating, top-line growing, bottom-line shrinking, daunting-challenge overcoming solutions come from.

When Yvon Chouinard directed his team at Patagonia to eliminate the plastic their underwear was sold in, he didn’t ask for packaging innovations. He didn’t need to. His seemingly impossible challenge required them to rethink their assumptions about how customers bought underwear, how customers used it, and how they discovered it in stores.

As a result, Patagonia didn’t invent a new packaging material—which would have meant significant research, development, and production costs for the business. Instead, Chouinard’s team came up with a practical answer that eliminated 12 tons of landfill choking materials, drove costs down by hundreds of thousands of dollars—and raised underwear sales at Patagonia by 30%. What was their ingenious solution? The rubber band.

patagonia_rubberband

This solution not only resonated with Patagonia’s deep environmental roots, but also gave customers the chance to handle the underwear and discover its quality.

What does Chouinard get that other CEOs don’t? He believes that with every paycheck, he is renting his people’s ingenuity. So he’s built a company where he not only encourages every employee to come up with ingenious solutions—he expects them to. In return, he benefits from everyone’s ability to solve business and environmental challenges with what’s at hand—in clever, new, and useful ways.