Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions: Creating Systematic Continuous Innovation for Manufacturing (Sponsored Report)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Jul. 9, 2012 12:00 am  

In a recent article from McKinsey Quarterly, 70 percent of senior executives surveyed agreed that “innovation will be one of the top three drivers of growth for their companies.”

While firms use the word “innovation” to create mission statements, or promote imaging campaigns, finding evidence of it being put into practice is actually rare. So, how can an organization produce consistent innovations that will lead to growth and success?

Like all change, it begins with an honest self assessment of current status on the business life-cycle.

“Is my company growing or in decline?”

“What new products and services are in my company’s development pipeline?”

“What new markets am I exploring to grow my business?”

Chances are, the answer you get from the last two questions will shed considerable light on the first. As a business leader, if you put “innovation” as second or third on your priority list, then your company is in danger.

Your innovation pipeline is a key factor in future success. If it doesn’t exist, your organization might find itself limited to a commodity product line, striving to compete on price alone. Without a systematic approach to innovation, the risk is high for companies who choose to follow the innovation journey. It can be difficult and costly in time, money, and human resources to develop products and services that meet current or anticipated market needs, without guidance and expertise.

So, as a leader committed to innovation, how do you address the innovation challenge, while minimizing risk and increasing speed?

Use the right system.

The Innovation Engineering Management System (IEMS) is a proven method for systematically building an innovation culture. These tools and processes can increase innovation SPEED while decreasing RISK, providing a sustainable pipeline of growth! Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions (AMS), a program of the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority, can provide a systematic approach to the often “fuzzy” innovation process. If applied correctly, the results can be dramatic. AMS clients report a continuous stream of innovations directed at products, services, markets, process improvements, and strategic initiatives. IEMS is a systematic process, accomplished through a series of stages, as follows:

Define – Innovative ideas are derived based on research and stimulus, and then refined to clearly identify the problem, promise and proof. Clarity in communicating innovative concepts is further refined from a customer perspective. This is accomplished through the application of a series of proven “create and communicate” tools coupled with coaching expertise.

Discover – The value proposition of the innovation is further refined using analysis and estimating tools. “Death threats” are identified that could potentially derail the innovation. Ideas deemed viable are reviewed in 7-day cycles of learning using Deming’s Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) approach to deal with these threats in a “Fail Fast, Fail Cheap” process approach. Using this process, these death threats are either resolved or the idea is killed before investing significant expense and time.

The goal is to limit up-front cost to approximately 5 percent of investment dollars and one-third of development time. This preserves investment capital for ideas with a higher likelihood of success.

Develop – As the innovation is ready to further develop toward implementation or market commercialization; Innovation Engineering tools, or processes such as R&D, Stage-Gate, Design for Lean or Six Sigma, may take over.

Deliver – Innovation projects are then managed through product introduction or implementation.

Keeping the pipeline full and active is critical to sustaining the innovation process. Innovation concepts at the “Define” stage may be numbered in hundreds, while at the “Deliver” stage, perhaps only one or two. This provides a continuous systematic approach to the innovation process with increased speed and decreased risk.

Innovation coaching and project services are available from AMS. In addition, the Arkansas Innovation Marketplace is a free online service that can link manufacturers, innovations and potential suppliers, in essence creating a “” for manufacturing. Register today by clicking here.



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