Seven in Ten Executives Predict New Products & Services This Year:
KINGSTON, ON, Aug. 25 /CNW/ - A survey of over 125 working managers and
executives completing their Executive MBA at Queen's School of Business
in boardroom learning teams across Canada reveals that even during
recent uncertain times their organizations plan to introduce new
products and services to come in the near future. Specifically, almost
seven in 10 (69 per cent) said their organizations have enhancements to
existing products or services planned in the next 12 months. The results
generally contradict Canada's reputation as a nation ingrained with
ultra-conservative business practices - practices that helped weather
the economic storm over the last two years, says Barry Cross, an
instructor at Queen's School of Business. But, we could definitely be
doing more. In many cases, our efforts in innovation are misdirected or
compromised through a waste of resources elsewhere.
To support his point, Cross points to another finding of the survey
which indicates that six in ten (60 per cent) of the respondents said
their customers don't understand or value all of their current
offerings. Further, a majority (55 per cent) said their businesses
"rarely" or "don't usually" discontinue or shut down an existing service
or product when they launch a new service or product.
"An abundance of old services and products that only a minority of
customers are interested in, is like having too many take-out menus in
your kitchen junk drawer and never being able to find the right one,"
said Cross, who teaches Operations Management and Technology. "It
confuses our customers and sucks up resources - resources that could be
servicing people better or helping in other ways. We get emotionally
attached to these existing services; if leadership is afraid of
alienating that two per cent of our customer base that still subscribe
to the service it's a problem. But as painful as it may be, we need to
shut down the old, the stale and the fruit that never fully ripened
properly on the vine. Doing so can free up people, cash and other
critical resources for further innovation."
The answer, says Cross, is the adoption of "lean innovation" - an
approach that seeks to apply resources in a targeted way that can reduce
waste and dramatically increase the productive and creative potential
across the business. In other words, focus on eliminating that which
doesn't add value to customers and increasing that which does.
Lean and Innovation - Odd Bedfellows
As a business becomes leaner, says Cross, enthusiasm is generated, ideas
start to surface and new opportunities are realized. Why? Because these
opportunities and positive energy were previously buried behind the time
and effort required to manage the "stuff" that no one really cared about
- the waste.
Cross cites Cirque du Soleil as a great example of an organization that
used its resources to develop a product that audiences really wanted -
even before they knew they wanted it. Cirque created an entire
entertainment segment that didn't exist previously by "leaning out" what
people didn't want and developing new ideas that really excited the
market. They stripped out the animal acts - which include trainers,
vets, food, transportation and that guy with the big shovel behind the
elephants (expensive overhead!) - and added a story line, emotion and a
unique merger of Chinese acrobats and Montreal street performers. Does
Cirque fail sometimes? Sure, like recently in New York. But when they
do, they shut it down.
The Queen's MBA survey also revealed:
Cost and available resources were the two biggest challenges to
innovation respondents cited when their business faces competition
from other countries (36 and 25 per cent respectively).
A lack of available resources was once again a top challenge mentioned
by respondents when asked to think about impediments to fostering an
overall culture of innovation and achieving goals for new products or
services. Corporate culture was also a factor for many (19 per cent
and 39 per cent respectively).
"The good news is that these challenges are short-term areas that can
easily be addressed, versus longer term more complex challenges such as
larger scale economic issues," said Cross. "These challenges can
actually be a catalyst for the creation of new opportunities. Lean
thinking instills a culture we can use as a foundation for innovation in
Tips on Where to Start:
You have enough resources - Cross recommends
applying some basic lean principles to identify the waste and
complexity in the organization and free up the people and space you
need to pursue the next big thing.
Foster a creative culture - Build off the
empowerment and enthusiasm generated with Lean. Balance efficiency
with creativity - empower the dreamer with the off-beat, big ideas in
your Friday morning meeting.
Get to know your audience - One of the easiest
ways for innovations to derail is failing to identify the target
customer, who may not be your current customer. Get models,
prototypes, simulations and other demonstrations in their hands early
and see how they react.
The survey was conducted between June 5 and June 13 with 128 members of
the EMBA and AMBA classes at Queen's School of Business located in
Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. Survey
participants responded to questions via the One Touch technology
currently used in the program to allow students to be polled on-demand,
communicate with the instructor and "electronically raise their hand."
About Queen's School of Business:
of Business (business.queensu.ca) is
one of the world's premier business schools - renowned for exceptional
programs, outstanding faculty and research, and the quality of its
graduates. Canadian executives regard Queen's as Canada's most
innovative business school, offering students academic excellence and a
superior overall experience. Queen's School of Business - where Canada's
first Commerce program was launched in 1919 - is located at Queen's
University in Kingston, Ontario. The School also delivers programs at
locations across Canada, as well in the U.S. and the United Arab
SOURCE Queen's School of Business
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