I was the Chair of the Manufacturers Council of the Inland Empire (MCIE)'s Innovation awards committee for this year's Manufacturers' Summit. It was inspiring to hear the stories of manufacturing innovation at today's awards ceremony! These companies innovated in many different ways ranging from workforce development to marketing to resource efficiency, and each had tangible and significant results.
As I said when giving out the award, there is a significant difference between problem solving and innovation. Problem solving "gets you back to some sort of standard performance" — important yet extremely different from innovation. Innovation, on the other hand, raises the bar to an entirely new level of performance! As Angel Sanchez said from Phenix Technology (in the center below next to me), after being in business for 40 years, coming up with an innovation that more than doubled sales was a game changer!
One tip to implement this week:
The key to innovation is to support experimentation. If you are a leader, give your people time this week to try new ideas. Encourage them to test new theories and try out new approaches. Make sure they know you will support them, no matter the results. Innovation requires experimentation and failure. Edison didn't invent the light bulb on the first try. It took COUNTLESS tries!
If you are not in a leadership position, go to your leader and tell him/her about a new idea. Ask for the opportunity to test out a new process or new idea. If you can find a way to test it out within a reasonable set of guidelines so that the negative impact wouldn't be too significant, it is likely you'll be able to convince your manager to give it a try. Talk up the potential benefits! It is amazing what can be done if you set aside a few minutes to innovate — and ASK!