Creating Room to Innovate - Spring2 Innovation

Creating Room to Innovate

January 4, 2017

messydeskOne of the challenges that come up every time we ask an organization about their barriers to innovation is a lack of resources – predominantly time resources. For example, if an unexpected opportunity comes up, an organization will have to pass on it because they are too busy meeting current demands. We are all working hard and moving forward on full throttle without time to think about how we can innovate or whether we are still ‘doing’ the right thing to be ‘doing’.


I recently read that clothing company Zara runs their manufacturing plants at 80% capacity to create room for unexpected demand. If a Zara sales representative on the floor of one of their retail stores hears a client asking for red coats, the rep relays this information to headquarters. The organization is able to quickly respond to market demand by relegating a portion of unused capacity to produce red coats and get them out to consumers in a matter of weeks.


How much capacity does your organization have for unexpected opportunities? How quickly can you meet new client requests? One thing I have done and still remind myself to do regularly is assess whether what I am ‘doing’ – is it still the right thing to be ‘doing’? Are there other alternatives, insight, and options available now that were not when I originally created these plans, programs and projects? We are so busy ‘doing’ that we might not see opportunities when they are presented to us.


Too often, organizations develop reports that are no longer relevant or are not really utilized. The original intent of these reports made sense at one point but may no longer be pertinent. How can you take stock of what you are currently doing? What is the impact or value of everything on your to-do list? What can you remove from your to-do list?


To create room for innovation, we ask organizations to routinely look at the value of what they are doing. If there is no value or the value is deteriorating, they should either change or eliminate tasks.


Get that time back and use it to focus on innovation and unanticipated opportunities.