Keep it Simple and Think Different: Apple’s 3 Point Turnaround

By: Alan GehringerTue, Apr 5, 2016 @ 09:00 AM

I came across a video on YouTube titled "Steve Jobs on 'Think Different' - Internal Meeting Sept. 23, 1997." I believe any company that has hit the growth ceiling or is in the midst of a turnaround situation should watch this. The video is only sixteen minutes long and is very inspiring. As you may recall, Jobs was forced out of Apple in 1985 and returned in 1997 when Apple purchased his company NeXT. Steve had only been back with the company for ten weeks before presenting this vision to his team. 

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Topics: Leadership, Manufacturing, Innovation

4 Ways to Strengthen Your Creative Muscle (Video)

By: Alan GehringerSun, Dec 20, 2015 @ 12:30 PM

“Creativity is a muscle. You have to work it continually. If you do, it will get stronger and easier to use.” Tom Kelley, Partner at Ideo

I glanced through the latest issue of American Way on my flight from Detroit to State College, PA last week, and came across an interesting article on discovering that “Ding” moment of creativity. The author had interviewed Tom Kelley, a partner at Ideo - one of the best known design firms in the country, to gain insight into the creative process. I am always interested in finding new techniques to fuel creativity and like what Tom shared.

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Topics: Innovation

How to Make Scalable Process Improvements

By: Jessica WishartFri, Aug 14, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

If you have ever downloaded any tools or other resources on our site, you know that we usually ask you about your Biggest Business Challenge in our forms. In response to your feedback, we are featuring a blog series on your biggest business challenges! This post is a response to the challenge “establishing processes that scale and add value."

With all of the process improvement tools and methods available, it can feel like a big and difficult undertaking to even begin to contemplate standardizing and documenting your processes. Most small companies have very few documented processes, and this is one thing that helps them stay nimble, adjust quickly, and remain flexible and successful. But, as your company grows and you approach a ceiling of complexity, you will inevitably find that what used to work just isn’t working anymore. Once multiple people are involved in a task that used to be relatively simple or straightforward, you will probably find that you need some more formal processes in place to manage your business effectively.

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Topics: Rhythm, Innovation

Think Like a Startup

By: Ted SkinnerFri, Jun 12, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

Startups are amazing businesses. They find a problem that isn’t properly solved in the marketplace and try to resolve that problem in a better, faster and/or easier way. They are one of the biggest innovation engines in the world economy today. They attack problems with a fervent energy that makes incumbent businesses nervous about disruption in the marketplace. But what if we could take some of the principles that startups follow and use them in our existing business? What if we could get the innovation mindset and combine it with the benefit of already having an established business? We need to remember that having an established customer base is a huge advantage that can be leveraged to an established company’s benefit.

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Topics: Business Execution, Innovation

Don't Speculate When You Can Innovate

By: Barry PruittSun, May 24, 2015 @ 12:00 PM

"Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow." ~ William Pollard

The above quote is perfect for fast growing companies and quick moving teams. I occasionally wonder if I shock company leaders when I tell them that in three years – with no personal growth – that they won’t be qualified for their current position. Of course, that presumes that the position will still exist! One conclusion I form, based on the occasional shocked reaction, is that many leaders at fast growing entrepreneurial firms don't feel personally responsible for being innovative.

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Topics: Leadership, Innovation

Produce Breakthrough Ideas by Encouraging Employees to Fail

By: Alan GehringerMon, May 11, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

Do you encourage your employees to fail? Doing so can produce some breakthrough ideas and products.

I am reading Exponential Organizations, a book written by Salim Ismail and one that anyone in the technology field should read, although applicable to all businesses. One concept that rings loud and clear in the first 100 pages is fail fast, fail often, while eliminating waste. 

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Topics: People, Innovation

Four Strategies for Innovation

By: Alan GehringerTue, Oct 28, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

“Innovation is seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one else has thought.” 

- Albert Szent-Guorgi, 1937 Nobel Prize for Medicine

How many new products or services do you introduce a year?  Where do you gain your insight on what those products or services should be?

In order to continue growing your business profitably, you know that you have to constantly introduce new offerings that allow you to compete on value, not price, in order to maintain the highest possible margins.  To accomplish this, it is necessary to find opportunities in the market and provide solutions your competition has not considered.

If you have read any of my previous blogs on innovation, you already know that I am a big fan of 3M and the resources they put into innovating new products each year.  Their goal is to earn 30% of their annual revenue from sales on products introduced in the past five years. One of my suggestions as you gear up for annual planning and budgeting this year is to make sure you have a key initiative around innovation and a line item in the budget to support it.  Once you have done this, you need to have a strategy for coming up with those new ideas.

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Topics: Strategic Planning, Annual Planning, Think, Innovation

Innovate or Die! Have You Developed an Innovation Strategy?

By: Alan GehringerSun, Aug 10, 2014 @ 12:00 PM

“In war, there is no prize for runner-up.” - Omar Bradley, U.S. General

The last blog I wrote asked questions about how your company’s innovation engine was running and looked at some of the barriers. The whole reason for the blog was to get companies, particularly manufacturing companies, thinking about their level of investment in R & D and innovating new products and services. Once you know where you stand and are ready to commit resources, we can begin to look at some strategies or processes to put our innovation machine in gear.

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Topics: Manufacturing, Innovation

Calling All Manufacturers: How Is Your Innovation Engine Running?

By: Alan GehringerWed, Aug 6, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

I have spent most of my life working in the manufacturing sector. My first experience began as a young boy in my Grandmother’s sewing factory. After eating sugar cubes and Lance crackers while my Dad helped her out at night, she thought it was time to start earning my treats and put me to work sweeping her factory floor. Memory sometimes gets the best of you, but I could swear I was only six years old. I did not mind because along with the treats she would throw a couple of quarters my way.

I never looked back and soon worked summers for my Dad full-time to earn the money to feed my motorcycling hobby. This continued as I went to work for him after high school, before attending college a few years later. I give you this background because I wanted to share that manufacturing is in my blood from all of the years I spent growing up and working in it. It is something I am very passionate about, and I believe it is the backbone of our economy. I have seen a lot of changes through the years as tariff structures have changed and trade agreements have been put in place.

I have spent a large part of my career consulting and working with a variety of companies, including many manufacturers. One of the things I have come to believe is that while implementing process improvement methodologies like Lean Enterprise and Six Sigma are extremely powerful, they do not always make the difference between success and failure for a manufacturing company.

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Topics: Manufacturing, Innovation

Think Outside the Box to Develop Powerful Growth Strategies

By: Alan GehringerSun, Jan 5, 2014 @ 12:00 PM

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Mohandas Gandhi

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Topics: Strategic Planning, Winning Move, Innovation