I’ve been working with an agriculture machinery company over the years. This family run business designs and manufactures huge innovative machines that solve the current problems farmers face. Their industry is subject to the seasons, which means all farmers want new machines just before the harvest, so there’s a big peak of work in the period running up to harvest time, roughly from April till September in Europe. When the harvest is done, there is a downtime in these factories.
Of course, the company doesn’t want to lay-off it’s workforce, nor have a factory shut down and workers idle for six months of the year. So we looked to other industries to spot a business innovation gap, that would allow them to continue to make money even in the off-season. We found that the joiners, welders and assembly people are very profitable for the car industry. So, now there’s a possibility to make an exchange of labour between the two industries, and that makes both industries more scalable.
Many organizations are quite old fashioned, frequently with a sub-organization, a department, or a satellite organization busy with product innovation in splendid isolation. When you are slow to mine the innovation gaps – not only for your product, but also for your business – you leave money on the table, a workforce under-utilized and customers unsatisfied.
Every time you think of a product or service innovation, your reflex has to be, ‘How do we have to innovate the business to support this?’
RATE: Radical Agile Transformation Exercise
The next question you should ask is, ‘What consequences should this have on the structure of my business?’
One way to mine the innovation gap is to make a customer analysis: what do they need to diminish their pain, enhance their gains and accelerate their jobs to be done?
And then check if your assets actually allow you to support them. For instance:
- Do your products or services diminish pain or enhance gains?
- Do you have key people who you can outsource to the client to accelerate their jobs to be done?
- Do you have excess factory space that others could use?
- Do you have innovative processes that could help others achieve their goals?
We are moving towards a sharing economy, where the name of the game is not proudly invented here, but proudly co-created with others.
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Sari van Poelje has 30 years experience of innovation on the interface of leadership and organizational development, executive coaching and transactional analysis both as a director within several multinationals and as an international consultant. Specialization in creating agile leadership teams and business innovation! She is the author of numerous articles and books on leadership and change.