Getting ready to thrive + Innovation in the future…

Blog 7. Tue 21 Apr 2020

Making a difference by design…

Getting ready to thrive + Innovation in the future…

Al Baxter of the Foodbowl in Auckland emailed me last week:

“Saskia, I’d be interested to hear your views on
how companies will innovate in the next year or so!”

Good question. Yes, because things will be different. It will be a new world, which means new opportunities and potentially new ways of delivery.

I have broken the question into four parts:

  • HOW – the way we work
  • HOW – the project approach
  • HOW – where to start?
  • What you can do right now

HOW – the way we work: I’m sure that will change. We’re all taking part in a great ‘working from home’ test right now and we’re learning what works, what’s effective and what isn’t. As a result of this ‘test’, for sure there will be a lot more working from home, with flexible hours and with great ever improving online tools. That will change NPD work a bit, but we will still need physical spaces & equipment to do some of the physical and chemical/biological testing. And whilst we can meet with some teams easily online (marketing, sales, SLT, purchasing, finance), there’s some real benefit in meeting people at the place where they do their work (In-store, Production, Lab, Quality, Engineering, Farms, etc.).

HOW – The project approach: Now, I think more than ever, spending time to really understand your consumer / user is critical. Things have changed drastically over the last few weeks and it does change how we each make our decisions, what we find important, how we spend our time. Where previously we had a luxurious position of living in a great economy where some ‘luxuries’ were our ‘normal’ that has changed. I’m finding that groups of clients that I previously bundled together now have distinct differences in their situation and needs. It requires a different approach and solution.

HOW – where to start? With which project? In what order? To be effective you can only work on a few projects at a time. Which ones should you / your team be working on right now? Start with gathering an overview of all the ideas and projects currently being worked on. Understand the company strategy (which may well have changed, so check in with the leadership). Understand each project idea – how different is it from what the company already knows and can do? The more ‘new’ it is, the more learning is required for the team, which means more time. I give projects t-shirt sizes (S, M, L, XL). Once you have an overview of all the ideas & projects, their sizes and the business goals and strategy, you can work out in which order you should tackle the projects.

What you can do right now: even while we are in lockdown:

  1. Keep going – those projects that are near completion, keep them going. Stopping them now means a lot of wasted effort (even if you do pick them back up later). Keep the momentum and get the project into the market or at least ready to hit the ‘go’ button for production.
  2. Learn. For any project that’s in early stages, or about to start, what learning and testing can you do right now? Much of it can be done from home with a bit of creativity. And do double check on your consumer/user (and the retailer/channel partner!). Their thinking might have changed….
  3. Analyse – rationalise your product range (the 80/20 rule), a good time to delete those products that don’t deliver what they should and improve productivity for all. Also work out which products continue to get complaints or require regular re-work. Now might be good time to decide: either improve the design / process and increase profitability or delete/replace?
  4. Promote –keep doing your marketing and advertising – targeted and focused. See Economist Tony Alexanders advice. Learn from history. I believe a good thing to promote right now is ‘NZ owned & operated’. When the market does open back up, I believe a lot of us will be very keen to help local businesses. Good to promote that you are a local business. I’ve received several emails recommending me to buy a book, but to give the business to my local corner bookstore who can really use the business right now. And for export, if we manage to keep Covid numbers low as a nation, NZ will have a great reputation as a safe place. Nice one to add to our ‘green, clean’ image!

How will you innovate when we come out of lockdown? What will you do? Where do you start?

  • What would you like to have in place? …the team aligned on a strategy, a structure, a process, …?
  • What would you like to notbe there anymore?… annoying piles of rework, an undoable backlog of projects, piles of admin, long meetings, stress, rushing projects, …?

If you’re a team leader, I suggest you start with aligning your team around your goals, and strategy. Even if it hasn’t changed, good to reassure and remind everyone of the plan and how and where they and the NPD projects fit in.

Need a hand or a sounding board? Just give me a ring.

Hope this helps Al? 🙂

Your thoughts?

Onwards & upwards,

ps.  If there is any way I can help you right now deal with what I know is a pretty messy situation, please do feel free to let me know and we can have a quick chat (no stings, full service). Give me a ring (021-68 49 68) or hit reply here to have chat!

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