Ways to distinguish yourself – #21 Balance Innovation and Continuous Improvement

Ways to distinguish yourself – #21 Balance Innovation and Continuous Improvement

By Rajesh Setty on Sat 23 Apr 2005, 9:42 AM – Leave Comment

All of us know that if you we want to make sweeping changes, we need to

innovate. Incrementalism (small improvements) won’t attract much

attention. Fedex became a success

story as they changed the expectations (absolutely, positively

overnight) of people, delivered on their promise and charged a premium

for it.

However, Innovation projects are never “complete” Fedex, since then has

embarked on continuous improvement of their “absolutely, positively

overnight” service. One such improvement is the transparency. Every

shipper or the receiver (or anyone with the tracking #) can find out

where exactly the shipment is at a particular point in time. Fedex

customers may not need all the information that they provide but making

the information available will only enhance the credibility of the


One more point to note is that radical innovations are risky too. Not

all of them succeed. So, you should ensure that there is a “tolerance”

for failure at your workplace. Second, you should be willing to

emotionally detach from this failure and embark on the next innovation

project. Whenever an innovation project succeeds, the next immediate

step would be to put that project on a “continuous improvement”

roadmap. Because no project is really “complete”

So, in summary a good framework can be

Innovation -> Continuous Improvement -> Innovation

Take a look at all the projects that are taking place in your own life

and it’s easy to categorize each one of them under “Innovation” or

“Continuous Improvement” If there are no innovation projects, there is

a serious problem. If there are past innovation projects that are not

under a “Continuous improvement” plan, there is an issue too.

The beauty is in balancing the Innovation and Continuous Improvement initiatives.


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