Hazel’s Thursday Thoughts – Are You Ready For Innovation?


As early as 2017, Ontarians can expect a pilot project that will test 3 autonomous vehicles on its streets. Unlike other North American cities that have road restrictions for self-driving cars, in Ontario any road is eligible. Research into cars that drive without human intervention has been ongoing for decades, but over the last decade the pace has rapidly increased. The automotive industry is spending billions of dollars in the development for autonomous cars and it is a race to see who will successfully bring them into mainstream.

Consumer feedback indicates that people are not interested in having a car that drives itself, but what is interesting is how the technology leading to fully automated vehicles has been rolled out.  Today, cars have cameras and technology that assists with parking, provides automatic emergency braking, has adaptive cruise control, detects blind spots, warns against potential collisions, and helps with lane holding. Some models, like Tesla, have dynamic turning headlights that can improve visibility at night.

Companies benefit from this distributed technology, or innovation process in two ways. First, by introducing the elements of the final product to the customer in bite sizes. If initially the customer was not sold on it, they have slowly adopted so many of the components that the leap to the final product is effortless. Second, in so doing, the company builds out their operations in a manageable and cost efficient manner, which will allow them to capture first entry benefits without the burden of a huge one-time capital expense.

Unfortunately, some businesses wait until the full impact of exogenous, or industry change is upon them and then the cost to adapt their operational model results in high costs, or worse, inertia. A key element to manage these effects is to have a big picture view of your operational model. Similar to the blueprint of your home that you consult when you are doing renovations, a design of your operations will help to slowly make changes necessary to develop new products and services as the business environment changes.

Case in point I worked on a client engagement to improve their delivery model using technology.  In so doing, I developed their operational design and this allowed them to identify where they could slowly and intentionally begin adopting technological advancements occurring in their industry.

My challenge to you is this…

What changes can you make in your operational model that can get you on the path to adopting innovation happening in your industry?

Here is the thing, I worked with a manufacturing organization and similar to the automotive industry this is a little easier to do because you can “walk the operations”. However, particularly in a service or office environment, this is more challenging. But having worked with service clients it can be done, and needs to be done if like the automotive industry your aim is to truly leverage innovation and remain relevant.

About the Author: Hazel

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