The Innovation Series: Part Four
Look Beyond Your Own Industry
In this issue
-- The greatest threat to your industry
-- Innovation in the In-Flight Food Service industry
-- Efficiency in Surgical Procedures
-- Swiss Army Knife Tire-Changing Tool?
-- Robots in the Construction Industry?
-- Retro -Trolley Power Source for Cars?
-- Socrates Modernizing Teaching?
The greatest threat to your industry
Guess where the greatest threat to your industry
is going to come from
Very likely, it will from a company in a different
industry. Market revolutions rarely start with
It takes fresh eyes with a different perspective to spot
the gaps in established systems and structures.
If you want to launch the next big thing in your
look beyond it!
- Coach manufacturers and railroad companies
did not start the automotive industry.
The Wright brothers ran a bicycle shop before they
started building airplanes.
FedEx and Starbucks did not emerge from the
classic patterns of their respective industries.
- During World War Two, Henry Kaiser, who had
never built a ship in his life, revolutionized the
shipbuilding industry by introducing the concept of
pre-assembled components used in other industries.
He was able to put ships together in less than 21
days! Kaiser came from the construction industry.
Innovation in the In-Flight Food Service industry
- Start with industries that complement yours.
After 9/11, the airline industry eliminated meals on
domestic flights; instead, they offered snacks. Now,
they don't offer anything for free other than soft
drinks. Instead of snacks, they do offer to sell you
pre-packaged meals, mostly sandwiches. Is there an
Well, if you are thinking of one, you may be too late.
Some airlines are already selling packaged meals
produced by a company named Go-Picnic.
According to early reports, they are actually good,
and may even dispel the memory of what we used to
disparagingly call "Airline Food."
- So, what is going to happen to the In-Flight Food
Service companies? Some may go out of business,
others may attempt to follow Go-Picnic's example.
Goddard Enterprises Limited, a Barbados-based
company whose catering division provides in-flight
food service to airlines in 22 countries, has opened a
number of airport fast-food outlets called Grab N
Their products are designed specifically to be taken
aboard flights that don't serve food.
- Successful innovation does not require that you
abandon your core strengths. Quite the contrary, the
secret is to find new ways to apply them. Looking
beyond your industry can help you find those new
applications. Goddard's strength lies in its ability to
provide good food where and when it is needed.
When British Airways scheduled its supersonic
Concorde to land regularly at Barbados, they chose
Goddard Catering to provide the very fancy meals for
those flights. To give you an idea of just how fancy
those meals were, all the 120 trays for each
Concorde flight had to be decorated with orchids of
the same color.
Efficiency in Surgical Procedures
- What could surgical instrument suppliers learn
from the maintenance pits at the Indy 500 race?
Through special design, constant training, and
developing speedier procedures, pit crews are able
to change all four tires on a car in 12 seconds! Not
that surgery should become a speed contest, but
selecting the right instruments for each operation,
sterilizing and protecting them against contamination
are time-consuming processes.
Hospital supplier Cardinal Health took a look at these
processes and developed pre-sterilized, pre-
packaged instrument trays for not only each type of
surgical procedure, but even according to each
surgeon's preferences. Given the national shortage
of nurses, can you imagine how much time and effort
Swiss Army Knife Tire-Changing Tool?
In turn, the processes and tools designed for the pit
crews at Indianapolis might serve as inspiration to
those companies that produce the tools we keep in
our cars. They might also learn from the
manufacturers of the Swiss Army Knife to offer an
equivalent one-device-does-it-all product for tire
Robots in the Construction Industry?
- The automotive industry makes wide use of
production line robots that assemble and paint
automobiles. Many other manufacturing industries
are introducing growing numbers of robots. Yet, one
of the largest industries in the US, the construction
industry, still uses mostly hand tools - albeit some of
them powered -- to build houses. Just imagine what
that industry could do if construction could be
standardized to allow for automation.
Retro -Trolley Power Source for Cars?
- There are lessons that can be learned from the
past, too. Trolley cars used to hook up to overhead
electric cables to power their engines. The system
was very economical compared to the cost of the
internal combustion motors that today power cars,
buses, and trucks. Auto companies are now
producing electric hybrids. What if a similar electric
cable power source could be made available in cities
and on highways to power electric cars? The
savings would be nothing short of awesome.
Socrates Modernizing Teaching?
Most college professors still lecture; many are still
quite boring and ineffective. Yet 2500 years ago,
Socrates taught people by asking questions that
forced them to think and discover new concepts.
Following that line of thought, what questions should
companies be asking themselves about their
business to develop new concepts, products,
services, processes, and policies?
Taking it even further, what
questions should you be asking
Need help answering this
question? Go to
and check the articles under Resources.
Need more help than an article can supply?
Michael Wynne at International Management
Consulting Associates, 630 420 2605, or e-mail
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