NAEDERC13 Blog 3: Innovation

Louis Foreman is talking innovation at your distributorship.

“Last year there were 67 new brands of toothpaste launched into the marketplace,” Freeman says. “Because people may have bought the same toothpaste for years, but they are always looking for something that is new and improved.”
Foreman also says innovation is all about survival.  The day you stop innovating is the day the clock starts ticking toward you losing your marketshare.
Foreman defines innovation as a new idea, method or device. He also says innovation is not always difficult.  He cites a company that designed a dish soap bottle that you can keep on the counter top because it is attractive.  As a result, you don’t have to bend down under the sink to find it and put it away every time you wash dishes.  That one innovation took $100 million from Procter and Gamble.
Innovation can also be “silly” sometimes.  The “Snuggie” is a prime example.  Having a blanket with sleeves has sold more than $1 billion blankets.  Sometimes it is about finding that one innovative thing and knowing what to do with it.
Sometimes innovation can be:
new colors or sizes
variations in packaging
micro improvements
Innovation is not easy.  Some companies believe innovation is done at a brainstorming session that lasts 2 hours.  Or take employees on a team building session.  Or send the staff on a weekend retreat.  Foreman says innovation is not something that is done in a day, week, or month.  It has to be something that is in the fiber of a company, that is going to be followed from the CEO down through every employee.
Why innovation fails:
Demand for fast results — it isn’t possible
Lack of resources — money, time, people or skills
Risk of failure — people are afraid to fail. However, Foreman says failure is necessary for innovation. Learning from your mistakes and making it better.
Lack of participation and communication — you must bring everyone together and keep them together. 
Culture — You must create an atmosphere from the top down that understands that risk and failure are a part of innovation.  Don’t punish failure, encourage and learn from it.
Lack of protection — keep your intellectual property within your company
Lack of execution — the single biggest reason for failure.  You gather the troops, you talk, and then you DO.
How innovation works:
Innovation= Ideas + Execution
Execution of innovation results in increased customer value.  You don’t want to compete on just price alone. It will enable your company to differentiate its products and services from the competition.
How to achieve innovation:
Expand participation beyond brainstorming sessions.  Talk with the people on the front lines. Talk with contractors.  Talk with the sales reps. What is going to make their jobs better, faster, smarter and more economical. 
Seek outside help.  Talk with research experts to see how big the market can actually be for you.
Create an environment in your company that fosters and encourages innovation.
Forrest says there are opportunities out there.  You are responsible for seeing them, and taking advantage of them.  When you stop doing that, you stop innovating.  And when you stop innovating, the clock starts ticking toward you losing your marketshare.
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