I’m a big fan of the new. In fact, many people would tell you that I’m a lover of bright shiny objects. Although this is true, it’s not the topic of today’s video. Today we’re going to talk about small changes you make and how they sometimes lead to major innovations.
But first, let’s have a general talk about innovation. Most people think innovation is only around new products. Today I’m going to use an example of two of what innovation looks like when it’s a business process. I want you to see what internal innovation looks like. It’s the same process as product innovation and in some cases it’s more valuable than external innovation.
You know I’m a big fan of the new. In fact, many people will tell you that I’m a lover of bright shiny objects. Although this is true, it’s not the topic of today’s video. Today we’re gonna talk about small changes you make and how they sometimes lead to major innovations.
But first, let’s have a general talk about innovation. You know most people think innovation is only around new products. Today, I’m gonna use an example of two things that were innovative in our businesses that I’ve done, but were business processes and were actually a whole lot more valuable than any new product I ever could have come up with. So I want you to see what internal innovation looks like. It’s the same process as product innovation and in some cases as you’ll see, it’s more valuable than external innovation.
So let’s jump right in.
- Now the first thing you have to know is innovation is sloppy. Most changes you’re gonna make don’t work so you’ll always wanna start with small changes. I call this fail fast fail cheap.
- You know, the more effort that you put in to innovation the harder it is for you to back away from something you been working on. I don’t know about you but have you ever noticed that a project has taken months and months and months and cost thousands of dollars is really hard to walk away from. Well, that’s what sunk cost is all about. I want you to be doing small changes, small experiments that don’t cost a lot of money because frankly most of these aren’t gonna work and you’re gonna need to walk away.
- The second thing I want you to know is that small experiments sometimes lead to major major innovations.
- You know, when we changed how we trained our route drivers, we took our training program from eight weeks down to two weeks, and we did it by just doing those small experiments along the way. We knew that didn’t work when we sent a driver out with a new route driver, the trainer, so instead we moved him in house and we moved that from eight weeks down to two weeks.
- You know, we put together also in our service department. We experimented, this was back in the early 80s before lean manufacturing came around or Six Sigma, back then it was called total quality management.
And we put a total quality management in our service department and again, it was a bunch of small experiments to see about what could we be doing to bring down the cost of service and make our service calls not repeat on our vending machines and we did this through a bunch of small experiments along the way.
Now, over a course of about two years we went from having 15, 20% of our service calls became repeat service calls down to less than 5%. That was a huge improvement not only for keeping the frustration out of our service department but also making our customers a whole lot happier.
- Now this is something we do which had to do with products but actually was a innovation that was an internal thing. We used to have these glass front snack machines, you’ve probably seen them, they’ve got 40 things, they’ve got potato chips and candy, and sometimes gum in them. But they had 40 columns, and we used to let our guys go shopping for what they put in the machines. Now I didn’t realize this, but our guys never really did like this, they never told us they didn’t, but over the course of years, we took from having 120 items in our warehouse down to 20. Our average service per time a guy stopped at a machine went from $40 a service up to $140 per service. Now you can just imagine what that did for our efficiency, our profits and most importantly, what it did for the satisfaction for our customers. But again, that change came about by making small changes, small experiments. We didn’t go from 120 items down to 20 items. We went from 120 down to 100, to 80, to 60. We stayed at 60 for a quite a while. And then finally we got to 20, where we had a planogram, that said, here’s where the Snickers go. Here’s where the M&Ms go, here’s where the Plain Chips go. Here’s where the Doritos go, in our machines. Now, by doing this, we took choice out of the hands of our route drivers, but frankly, they didn’t wanna make the choice in the first place. They found it a pain in the neck and it took them too much time. So that’s an example again, of small changes, small experiments that lead to a huge result along the way.
- So all three of these started with small changes.
- And remember the saying that would happen, what would happen if, which is something that we did, which was an experiment that we tried along the way, where we would always ask the question, what would happen if we tried this? What would happen if we tried that?
- And that’s how we started. Well, now you have some examples of how small changes led to big differences. I could tell you about the small changes that didn’t work, but that would make this video hours instead of minutes.
So what do you think about small changes in your life? Are you willing to give it a shot? Why don’t you scroll down and leave me a message below about what you think?
And while you’re at it, another one of our innovations that worked was what I call Four Tiered Budgeting. I wrote an eBook about how it works and how to implement this planning process in your company. It’s easy to get and it’s free (just click here).
Hey, this is Josh Patrick, you’ve been at The Sustainable Business, thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.