October 12

Incremental innovation

I’m passionate about innovation. When I talk with you I hope that some of that passion comes across because I can see the game changing results which are there for the taking, at least for anyone bold enough to really commit to infusing a culture of innovation within their organisation. But the innovation mix has to be right and businesses can’t spend their entire time living at the radical, groundbreaking end of the spectrum. Sometimes incremental innovation, making small but significant improvements, can send out a signal that change is on the way.

And sometimes, approaching a problem from an entirely new angle, can lead to incremental innovations which improve the lot of customers, suppliers or others. Let me give you an example. Tesco has recognised that the late payment culture which was partially responsible for negative headlines earlier this year was helping no one. In particular it now believes that paying suppliers, particularly small suppliers, late meant that suppliers were spending time worrying about cash flow and chasing payment rather than producing the best product they could for Tesco customers. Accordingly, the company has announced that it will be improving payment terms for small suppliers in a bid to improve customer outcomes.

The company could have seen late payments as being a problem purely for suppliers. Recognising the knock-on problems that this caused takes the solution into the realms of incremental innovation; identifying and solving a genuine problem which creates improved outcomes for customers and suppliers alike. Commenting on this change the Tesco CEO, Dave Lewis, said;

“We want to work with our suppliers to get back to innovating on behalf of our customers and these changes will make it easier for us to do that.”


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