24/7 Innovation - Creating an Infectious Culture of Innovation - an interview with Stephen Shapiro, author of the book 24/7 Innovation, covering a wide range of topics within Innovation, from tools and methods for individuals, to processes and a larger setting, and brewing it all up into innovation as a culture and embedded capacity. Have you been infected?
If you prefer to read this conversation, view the full blog entry.
24/7 Innovation - Creating an Infectious Culture of Innovation
Dan Keldsen: This is Dan Keldsen from the Perot Systems Innovation Lab and also Delphi Group, A Perot Systems Company. Today on the phone I have Stephen Shapiro who is the author of 24/7 Innovation. You can find out more about that book at his web site www.24-7Innovation.com, and also more recently the book Goal Free Living which you can find out more about and have some conversations with on his blog at www.GoalFree.com.
Today's topic is going to be on the innovation side, 24/7 Innovation and Creating an Infectious Culture of Innovation. Thanks again for your time, Stephen.
We had some fun having lunch the other week and you introduced me to your idea of 24/7 Innovation. If you could give a brief bit of an idea of what your background is and we'll start the kick-off and move towards this idea of 24/7 Innovation and we'll see where we end up.
Stephen Shapiro: Fantastic! Dan, I came from Accenture. I actually spent fifteen years with Accenture and back in the early ‘90s I was one of the people who founded and led our re-engineering practice. One of the things I found in doing that is that re-engineering had significant limitations on its ability to create truly adaptable, flexible, thriving organizations.
So then later on in about 1996 I created an organization called Process Excellence, which we grew to about a 20,000 person practice. And that was really all about how to create innovate business models, innovative processes and cultures of innovation within organizations.
I used that as an opportunity to launch my own speaking career in 2001 when the first book, 24/7 Innovation came out. And that's how it all happened.
Dan: Okay. And it's been an interesting road since then, as I've seen in both of your books.
Stephen: Oh, yeah.
Dan: So we'll start with the topic 24/7 Innovation, which is obviously the title of your book and then our unique slant that we came up with moments ago, Creating an Infectious Culture of Innovation.
I've read some of your book and find it fascinating. Why don't we start people with initially what you see as… the three levels of innovation, I believe you call it?
Stephen: Right. The three levels of innovation vary in complexity, sophistication and value. So essentially, the first level is innovation as an idea or innovation as an event. When we think of brainstorming sessions, you lock people in a room, that's sort of the concept of innovation of an idea. Because it's an event that's taking place and we're generating ideas and we deal with the results as we do.
The second level which is more complicated but has greater value is innovation as a process. Essentially what that means is we are going to systematically enterprise-wide have a means for being able to take the most creative ideas and see them through to fruition. So it's a process from idea generation all the way through to implementation, front-end and back-end of innovation.
Dan: So it's a pipeline as well, right?
Stephen: It is a pipeline and it's also how you engage people in the whole creativity process. One of the things which I've found is that you send people on creativity training. Companies love to do this. When the person gets back to the organization and then they have all these creative ideas but nobody wants to listen to them.
Or there's no vehicle for them to be piped through the organization and as a result it actually creates a morale issue. It's worse. You're better off never sending your employees to creativity training if you're not going to do something with the overall process.
Then the highest level, the third level is innovation as a capability. This moves us from innovations, which are things that have a start and a finish to innovation, which is much more organic. It's really about imbedding creative thinking into everyday work, every interaction with a customer, every interaction with another employee. Really focusing more on outcomes rather than the process you go through for developing ideas.
Dan: Okay. I've got you. That's an interesting semantic difference. I love to play with words. I don't know what it is but it could be because I happen to live with my stepmother who was a retired English teacher. We have tons and tons of books in the house. Semantics actually do matter and there are some interesting things that you can play with there.
Okay, so we have innovation as an idea or an event, innovation as a process and the pipeline and taking it to fruition, and then the imbedded capability. So rather than jump straight to the highest level, the most sophisticated, why don't we break it down and run people through from the very beginning.
So creative training, as I read in your book and as I thoroughly agree. People tend to think that they either are or are not creative or innovative or inventive or any of those terms. I think that's, like many things, life is not really on the extremes. It's in the gray area between the extremes.
Everybody has at least some innovative, creative capability. They just may not have ever had the tools to really use that essentially in a business setting where we seem to pound that out of people. So, what's your take on that and how to foster that?
Stephen: I think it's a really interesting point. Let me start off with what you're saying about the gradations. There have been numerous studies done over the years and I'm sure that many of the people have heard about how 98% of five-year-olds have been tested as highly creative and by the time they're 25 it's only 2%.
Stephen: The thing I'm convinced of is actually the 2% who test as highly creative when they're 25 or the 2% who didn't test as highly creative when they were five and went through some kind of metamorphosis through life.
Stephen: I actually believe that's somewhat true. If you look at people's ability to think creatively, and I do believe everybody has that ability, we just learn bad habits that stop it. There is that spectrum, that continuum that you're talking about. There are numerous tests and studies and surveys that you can give people.
One which I just think is nice because it's relatively simple is the Kirton Adaptor-Innovator model, which basically says on one extreme you have the adaptors and the adaptors are the great implementers. They're the people who like the structure and if you give them the structure they're able to implement what you give them.
Whereas, the innovators tend to fight the structure. They tend to be much more organic. There was a really fascinating study done at the University of Florida in one of their graduate programs and they created this test. I'll give you just a very simplified version of it, but basically they created this hands-on test to see the best way of using resources.
Essentially what they did was they gave them a problem to solve, like building a bridge out of common materials. They did a number of studies and the first one was they had a team of innovators do the design and they handed it over to a team of the adaptors or the implementers who did the build.
Stephen: In another study they had a team of innovators and adaptors together on one team who handed it over to a different team of innovators and adaptors.
Then in another study they did, they had a team of adaptors, the implementers doing the design, with a team of innovators doing the build. I'm just curious, I'm not sure if you actually read this part of the book yet, but which do you think was most effective of those three models?
Dan: Right. I actually did just read that on the train.
Stephen: Here's the funny thing. I ask this of organizations all the time and nobody wants to choose the first one. The innovators doing the design. Yet if you look at what we do in organizations, this is exactly what we do.
We take our best and our brightest, we lock them in a closet. We say, "Come up with a great idea." They come up with an idea and they force it on the organization and expect all the adaptors to implement it.
Dan: Yes, right.
Stephen: It doesn't work. Everybody knows it doesn't work but that's what we do.
Stephen: The second model most people think that that one was most successful when in fact it was the third model, the adaptors doing the design and the innovators doing the build that was most successful.
The reason for that was because the adaptors were able to come up with a design, albeit an imperfect design somewhat quickly, whereas the innovators were able to take that and in the moment when they ran into a problem they were able to change, evolve that to meet the specific needs of the situation that they were in.
That is just really enlightening because it is exactly opposite of how organizations structure themselves.
Stephen: Now I'm a big believer that the second model, the more cross-functional model, the hybrid model could work. The problem is language. Adaptors and innovators use different language. So the basic thing, the most fundamental thing is, I like to say typically the adaptors in organizations, the left-brain people in organizations, are the people who put the "no" in innovation.
They're the "yeah, but" people. So somebody comes up with an idea and they're the first people to reject it. "Hey that's a great idea but." You know, "We've tried it before but we don't have enough money, but we don't have enough resources," whatever it is.
So the first thing is to basically just, and this is pretty basic stuff, but it's making sure that you're banishing the concept when you are divergent thinking. When you're thinking broadly, eliminate the "yeah, but." Do not evaluate right up front.
Dan: Yes, right.
Stephen: It's pretty basic stuff. So then the question is how do you then get people, if they are able to suspend judgment and disbelief, how can you get them to generate new ideas? I think the biggest issue and I'm not sure if you found this, Dan, is that from my perspective, my mantra is that expertise is the enemy of creativity. Expertise is the enemy of creativity.
Stephen: Because if you're smart and you know something really well, you're going to come up with an idea really, really quick and then you're going to stop looking for new solutions.
Dan: Right. Was it in the movie Office Space, the guy that made the jump-to-conclusions mat?
You are a consultant and a speaker now. Obviously I'm a consultant as well. There is a temptation to say, "I know the answer. That's what you hired me for."
But it depends on the work that you're doing and what you're trying to do. When we're going in and doing work, typically we don't want to be there forever. We want to be able to go in, deliver some value and hopefully provide the tools and the training so that they can continue to do work and not have to keep bringing us in.
Hopefully, that sort of model helps somewhat to prevent the idea that you're hiring an expert to come in and tell you exactly what to do and then you just do it like automatons, which may work. But then again if you want to actually sustain it, and I guess it would be more as the innovation as a process concept, then you can't outsource all the responsibility as well as the capability. Somebody has to own some of those aspects.
Stephen: Right. I actually think that the best thing, this is a little bit of a tangent but I tend to think tangentially. One of the best things a consultant can do is not think of themselves as a consultant but rather think of themselves as a catalyst.
Stephen: And I love the concept of catalyst because basically it is all the ingredients are already there. Once the catalyst is introduced it causes this explosive reaction within those chemicals but that the catalyst is not used up. Because the catalyst is actually not part of the process, it's only the thing that stimulates it.
I think the best consulting model is actually a catalyst model, which says we go in, we make the most out of your resources, we cause all this fire to happen and then we leave unharmed and unscathed and basically the reaction continues without us.
Dan: Yes. Okay.
Stephen: So I think that's a great model. I love what you're saying there. You know, it does come down to the other issue, that expertise is the enemy of creativity. If we as a consultant come in with our particular perspectives on things, that's one dot.
Stephen: That's one dot. Whereas, if you have an organization with thousands of people you have thousands of dots and the collective experiences of those thousands of people is always greater than any one consultant. That to me is the essence of creativity.
Creativity is just about collecting and connecting dots. Those dots are experiences, they're disciplines, and they're any aspect of business or life that you can bring together, recombine and reconstitute in a new way. It's not about blank sheet ideas but it really is about bringing things together in new ways.
Stephen: The problem with experts is because we focus, Dan, think about this for a second. When we're five years old, when we're the most creative we've ever been, what happens?
Dan: It usually gets squeezed out of us because we were taught to search for the right answer.
Stephen: Exactly. We go to school. We're taught to regurgitate facts. The peer pressure sets in. We all have to wear the same $150 pair of sneakers. We stop thinking for ourselves and we go through life and we go towards college and we start to major in things. Instead of collecting dots, we're eliminating dots.
We graduate from college, then we get our degree and then we go to work for whatever company we're working on and we become the greatest expert in the world. And what do we have left? We've got one dot.
Stephen: Now we know that dot well.
Stephen: But we have nothing to connect it to. To me, the basis of all of my creative thinking work is about how to get people to get new dots, get new experiences, look at problems through a different lens rather than the way they've always solved it in the past.
Dan: I think that works perfectly in our infection metaphor because if we infect people with innovation, well measles is another form of infection, which is a bunch of dots.
Dan: So we can carry straight on through there. I think we're onto something.
Stephen: Let's see how far we can push this metaphor.
Dan: Maybe not today, but this could be the germ of an idea, so to speak.
We've hinted around at some of the parts of the innovation as an idea. Why don't we power through a little bit here and some of the best innovation tools that you've seen, that you've brought to organizations. We talked about this a bit over lunch. So, brainstorming has somewhat of a bad rap but it's also a completely valid and potentially very powerful tool.
Stephen: Of course, and you have to get ideas from somewhere. I think many times the best ideas come when you're bouncing them off of other people because they're going to look at a problem from a different lens. What I find to be, everything that I try to do falls into this, what I would call, random dot connection world.
I have a whole bunch of left-brain techniques because those are designed for the engineers. But the right-brain techniques really give you some breakthrough thinking and essentially.
For example, one right-brain technique is to look at the problem through somebody else's perspective. Filters. So how would Walt Disney solve this problem? How would Steve Jobs solve this problem? How would Bill Gates solve this problem? Really immerse yourself in it and ask yourself what are the attributes of these individuals? How do they think about problems? And then really force the connection. It's forced connections. So that's one.
Another one which I find very useful, and we've talked about this a bit, is metaphors and analogies. It's really looking to asking yourself when you're trying to solve a problem, "What is it like? Who else does something like this?"
I'll give you just a quick example of this one. I was working with a company that was in the office supply business. One of the highest margin items is refilled toner cartridge. One of the problems that they were trying to solve was to get people to return toner cartridges.
We do all the brainstorming, coming up with the ideas that everybody already knows using a number of different techniques. And then we went to this analogy concept and said, "Okay what is it like? Who else out there sends something to someone," because this is a mail order office supply store. "Who else sends something to someone and expects them to return it back?"
We went through different companies and we came up with NetFlix.
Dan: Okay. I wasn't expecting that one.
Stephen: In retrospect it's obvious, but nobody in the thousands of people I've asked in my workshops ever came up with that as a model for getting people to return toner cartridges. It's always, "Give them more money or give them an envelope," or something like that.
Stephen: But if you go to a subscription model where basically as soon as you return a cartridge we'll send you another one, next day delivery, better rates, you'll never run out of toner. Wow. That's a simple breakthrough idea by looking at an analogy.
Stephen: Another powerful one is to, this is the one which I really love and my clients love doing it is called rip and wrap. And basically what it is is if you're looking for random dots you take magazines and you start ripping up pictures, words and images, and you force connections between those images and ideas and words with the problem you're trying to solve.
Stephen: It gets you out of your own head. If you're trying to solve a hard-core business problem and you pick up Wedding Monthly, boy, that really forces you to stretch those connections.
Dan: Right. And it might be painful but then again it might give you a nice alternative idea.
Stephen: Exactly. I love a quote, I'm going to give the "G" rated version of a quote from George Carlin. George Carlin once said, "I've got a lot of ideas the trouble is most of them stink." Stink is not his word. But I tell people really what I want is a really high stinky-ness factor in their idea generation.
I want as many horrible, bad ideas as you can possibly think about, because in the process of doing that, first of all you're not filtering out the good ideas, which may have been lost because you're thinking too much and sometimes the worst ideas can be the seed for a great idea.
This is just about turning it into play and having fun and generating massive ideas. When you stretch your random dot connections, the further the connection, the better the breakthrough idea. And you will come up with a lot of junk in the process, but that's fine.
Stephen: One last one which is sort of the furthest of the extremes, is really a forced association concept. This is where you take any random object and you look at the attributes of that object and you look at ideas for how those attributes might solve the problem.
As an example, I'm working on a TV show right now. During a session with a few people my Blackberry was sitting on the table. So somebody said, "Okay the Blackberry's the random item that we're going to force an association with."
Stephen: So we went through all the attributes of the Blackberry and one of them was current. We said, "Okay, well who else looks at things from a current perspective?" It was technology and newspapers and all that. Part of that was the idea is, it fits so perfectly with the design of the show but I'd never thought of it before, to partner with a newspaper for one aspect of the show and it's working out brilliantly. So you can get the best ideas from the wackiest far-out places you could possibly think about.
Dan: Right. Okay.
So if we take it from the sort of tool level and I think people really do need some tools because this is, as you say in your book and as I thoroughly agree, we're not really taught to be thinkers as it turns out. In most teaching scenarios, K-12 and in college, and we're just taught to seek right answers and to avoid wrong answers.
So these sorts of tools are great things for people to have. So to take it from that then, so innovation as an idea in empowering individuals, how do we create the innovation process and lead towards creating a culture of innovation?
Stephen: Right. On the assumption that you have people who are able to think creatively we need to be able to get those ideas. And we need to create a vehicle for it. The problem then is, if you have everybody thinking creatively and everybody's looking for ideas, all of a sudden you have way too many ideas.
Stephen: So I love another quote from Albert Einstein. Basically what Einstein said was, "If I had an hour to save the world I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute finding solutions." In organizations we spend an hour just finding solutions to problems that aren't really relevant.
Dan: Right. That we've assumed.
Stephen: That we have assumed, exactly. We think this is the important thing or we just say, "We have a suggestion box. Give us your 1,000,000 ideas and if you're the one-millionth idea you'll get a car." But you can't use those ideas.
Stephen: So one of the key pieces of treating it as a process is recognizing that the innovation process starts with, and I'll just give the very, very, very simplistic version of the process, but it's basically defining the problem, figuring out what it is you want to solve that's going to create value and then looking for solutions around that, rather than looking for solutions to everything.
So it is a campaign-based, or challenge-based approach where you get individuals or the entire organization to solve the most pressing problems for the organization.
I worked with one company which is a division of Staples called Quill. We had some fun with this because we wanted to create this sort of vibrant culture of innovation, treat it as something fun. I decided I was going to steal a concept from reality TV shows. We created our own Apprentice-like TV show within the company called The Quillionaire.
Stephen: The Quillionaire was three teams of people who each month were given a real life business problem to solve. They would go off and solve that problem and they would present their solution in front of a live audience of people and it was all videotaped. They would present it to four vice-presidents who would then choose the best idea and implement it.
We then extended that further into communities and then we used the idea of management software as a way of getting the entire organization to contribute ideas around these problems that we're trying to solve.
It's really just, how do you connect with people emotionally? How do you connect with people technologically?
What I like about idea management software in particular is you bypass middle management, which in most organizations is the frost layer.
Stephen: You know this, Dan. The top executives know they need to change in order to survive and innovation they know is one of their mantras. The people at the bottom who are closest to the customer, closest to the issues know they need to change because they see what's not working.
The problem is the need can't come down from the leadership. The good ideas can't come up from the bottom because they hit this frost layer in the middle, and the whole idea of management system, or the challenge-based approach in general, allows you to circumvent that frost layer.
Dan: I don't know if it was in your book or where I came across it but I think it's a quote from Alfred Sloan where he had a meeting with his top whatever, 10, 20 executives or something and some idea came through and they all just kind of rubber stamped it.
He said, "I agree with this idea, too, but I'm going to veto it right now and force everybody to come up with some number of reasons why we should and should not do this. I don't like the thinking that we have right now because we're all just saying yes way too fast. We need something to introduce some critical thinking in here and make sure that we're actually doing this for the right reason."
They ended up reconvening in a month or two or something and they decided not to go through with what would have otherwise just been rubber stamped.
Stephen: Yep, and that's brilliant. See the problem is, if you look at organizations, basically you have "yes" people and you have "yes, but" people. But you don't have "yes, and" people who really take these ideas and flesh them out and build on them until they become big enough to really be something is going to be of true value to the organization.
Dan: Right. Okay.
Stephen: Let me just add one other thing on this second level, though. It's something which sounds really simple but I think it's really important to get across. It's what most organizations use when they introduce ideas, when they introduce products, when they introduce software. It's the analyze, design, build, test, deploy model, which basically says, "We're going to study this and make sure we've got everything thought through. Every T crossed and I dotted." Then they implement it.
The best thing you could possibly do, in my opinion, is the build it, try it, fix it model. That basically says, "Let's get a seed of an idea, let's build it quickly, let's try it out, let's fail miserably, learn from our failures, and move forward."
My mantra is fail fast, fail frequent. If you do that in organizations you will become more innovative. One of the people that I interviewed for my new book is the CIO of one of the largest companies in the world, and basically he had measures for failure rates to make sure there were enough of them.
Stephen: Because everybody's so into this Six Sigma thing and I have clients who are massive. I mean Six Sigma is like a religion to them. And it's going to be the thing that drags them into the ground because you cannot quality control yourself into spectacular growth.
Stephen: So you need to get comfortable with failing frequently, failing fast.
Stephen: And learning from those and moving on.
Dan: Right, and I've heard that stated as, "Fail forward."
Stephen: Fail forward. I love that. So to me that is fundamental and it does lead into the next piece, which is innovation as an imbedded capability. Because if you are of this mindset, that we are going to be trying lots of different things and failing, then what you're doing is creating essentially a Darwinian free market model within an organization.
My favorite company, people ask me who the most innovative company on the planet is, I would say without hesitation it is Koch Industries. They're out of Wichita, Kansas. I just love this company because they have really, for the past 40 years, used the principles of free markets as the way of growing the business.
The company has grown almost ten times faster than the average company in the S&P 500 over the last 40 years, consistently. The company is now the largest privately held company in the world, $80 billion. That's almost completely through organic growth, with the exception of their recent acquisition of Georgia Pacific.
Dan: Right, yes.
Stephen: Their whole philosophy is, "We want to treat everybody in the company as an owner of the business."
It's pushing decision making down to the lowest level. That's really the concept of innovation as a capability. I am an owner. Simple example, but I think it just is a powerful illustration, is Koch Industries always likes to be the best in everything they do. One area where they were just par for the course was safety.
Stephen: So their safety inspectors were great and they were trained. Some people might say, "If we want to improve safety we need to either get more safety inspectors or train people."
No. Their philosophy was, "We are going to get rid of the safety department completely."
They fired all the safety inspectors, basically, and said, "It is now the responsibility of each and every individual organization in the company to think about safety."
Within one year, the number of incidents went down 50%. In one year.
Stephen: Did the same thing with quality. Quality improved significantly when you got rid of the quality department. So it's, how do you push that decision making down to the lowest levels of the organization?
Stephen: Another company, Molnlycke Health Care. They were only able to launch their product, 15% of their products, on time. The issue was the organization structure was impeding work really truly getting done.
So what they did was they redefined product development. Instead of being just a concept that the researchers come up with, product development was redefined as being six months after successful product launch. Everybody involved in that is going to be measured on successful product launch.
Well, think about who needs to be involved in product development if it's all the way to six months after product launch; marketing, sales, manufacturing, legal, vendors.
Dan: Customer service, whatever. Yep.
Stephen: Exactly. So now what you're basically doing is you're moving from a process driven, functionally-oriented view of the world to a cross-functional, outcome-driven view of the world. And you have people sharing responsibility for those outcomes.
That is when we talk about connecting dots. That is about connecting the organizational dots, and to me that is the highest level of innovation you can get.
Dan: Okay. So that's more of the innovation as a life cycle at that point and innovation as teamwork. Again, it's not just as individuals being highly creative but as working together as a whole.
Stephen: Absolutely. Part of that, and this is simple yet very powerful, is the distinction between consensus and alignment. What I've found is in most organizations they operate, even if they don't articulate it; they operate from the consensus model. That says that everybody has to have their two cents. We have to have a solution that everybody really likes and buys into and supports and all that. Either that takes too long or the solution gets watered down.
Stephen: So what I do is I work with organizations to focus on an alignment model, which says, "Even though this is not my solution and is not the way I would implement it, there are enough other people or there's enough evidence to say I will support it. I will align behind it even though it is not what I would normally choose to do."
That is critical, especially when you're talking about divergent thinking of different personality styles, to get any kind of progress done. Otherwise you can get caught up in coming back full circle to what we talked about in the Kirton Adaptor-Innovator test, that second model where you had adaptors and innovators working together.
The reason why they couldn't work together is they didn't speak the same language and they could never agree on anything. If you can get that part going, you have a powerful team with diverse backgrounds that can give you much better thinking than you would get if you were just much more homogenous.
Dan: Sure. One of the things that's a danger is that otherwise, if you're trying to get everybody to have their two cents and put it in, you can get perfect mediocrity in the end. For the company you mentioned that actually measures and wants to have plenty of measurable failures, then if you're always aiming for perfection then obviously that measure is not going to be very well seen and acknowledged.
I've done a number of other broadcasts where I keep hinting at agile development, which is coming primarily from the programming and software engineering side of things. But just in general that's what we're talking about as well. Fail fast, fail frequently, and fail forward.
Deliver something that people can react to and even if it's not delivered to the real customer or the user in that shape, at least you can iterate through it behind the scenes much more quickly and build on sort of incremental success and failure.
Then once you get to the final launch that's actually seen by your customers, you've just gone through a lot more iterations and ideas and doing this divergence and convergence many times over. You should have a much richer sort of understanding of everything about that in the outcome.
Stephen: Absolutely. And a great tool to support that are computer-based simulation models, which I like to use extensively as ways of quickly and safely prototyping, and in many cases getting statistically accurate information about the way something will operate when it is introduced. So those are very powerful tools to help out, too.
Dan: To wrap us up, could you give a quick illustration, a little bit more about the simulation aspect?
Stephen: Sure. There are different types of simulations. The one I've used are more based on stochastic processes. They're discrete simulations and essentially, if you think about it when we design business models, one of the things we always get enamored with are the flowcharts. But we never really understand the bottlenecks that are taking place within an organization.
Stephen: And alternative models, which ones will work. I'll give you one quick example. I had the great pleasure of, when I was living in England, working for a Formula One race team. Formula One just makes these spectacular cars that go from zero to 100 back to zero in less than five seconds and cost $1.5 million to build.
What happens is they do these races every two weeks, roughly, and every two weeks they learn more about the cars, the aerodynamics, how they want to change it, the design of new parts. So the designers go off and they start just coming up with all these new designs.
What would happen in the past is they would introduce these designs into manufacturing and because manufacturing is trying to do a more repeatable, predictable, MRP-driven manufacturing process, it was screwing them up completely.
Stephen: So we did a number of simulations and actually found the best model was to do what we call a pipelining approach. The pipelining approach was that manufacturing would do its streamlined, optimized manufacturing process and then we would create a new manufacturing process in parallel with that. Its sole purpose in life was to test out the new designs.
Then once those new designs were working we could then introduce them into the MRP system so we could optimize them in with everything else. The simulation showed us that this would increase our throughput two to three fold even though, from a resource perspective, it did not add much at all.
In fact, it was pretty much resource-neutral. It was a matter of moving some of the manufacturing resources to this parallel process that was more experimental, whereas there was another one which was much more optimized.
Dan: Right, great. That's interesting and it clearly shows some of the process of excellence background that you bring to the game there.
This has been a lot of fun. So the 24/7 Innovation, Creating an Infectious Culture of Innovation; it may seem overwhelming to people, I could easily imagine.
But that's part of the reason we walked through the three levels of innovation and why that's such a key component of your book. So if you can't handle looking at the entire picture and all that it entails start at the beginning and start getting comfortable with those tools.
I think the individual level is a great way. You can start to bring some of the ideas that may have gotten squeezed out of you since you were five years old and bring it back to the corporate world where you can perhaps inject some more fun into the working process and think both out of the box and in the box, actually help to drive as we continue to move forward.
Change is upon us and it's just a faster and faster ride every day. So we need something to keep up and I think we covered quite a lot here.
Thanks so much Stephen. Let me hit the URLs again. I'm speaking with Stephen Shapiro, the author of 24/7 Innovation. The Web site for that book is www.24-7Innovation.com.
His more recent book is Goal Free Living. You can find information about that in the blog at www.GoalFree.com.
The topic was 24-7 Innovation, Creating an Infectious Culture of Innovation, and I don't know about you but I think that was quite a bit of fun. Thanks again for your time.
Stephen: Dan, it was a blast and hopefully we can do it again soon.