Re-Inventing Innovation

In my ideal world (of logistics), all employees would spend at least one hour per week on innovation. It would include a mandatory step-back from the day-to-day hustle and bustle and to simply take in the “big picture”, I think it would pay off.

As it is, on a daily basis, we feel like we are onboard a high-speed train, charging towards “Financial KPI” station. We are empowered (or should I say overwhelmed) by a diverse mix of technology solutions and we face continuous pressure to decrease costs and to increase productivity, in order to cope with fierce competition and lower prices. To top it off, we’re often thrown off-track by the world and its numerous uncertainties, consequently unclear if our train is even moving in the right direction.

Just months ago, a comment in a speech by Nokia’s CEO hit the internet pretty hard: “We didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost” he said, a comment which drew much reactions from industries across the tech-innovation space, a comment which sparked a passionate discussion on the need for continual innovation.

Suffice to say the modern pace of innovation forces us to realise we must not “forget” to innovate, unless we plan on becoming history.

Yet, why do we comfortably stay on our chairs? Because we (people in general) resist change, we hate getting out of our comfort zone. And if the competition is not moving, then the urge to get out of our chairs is even smaller.

At Cargobase, although we operate across the globe, the team keeps in touch via Slack. The discussions, largely revolving work, is always kept professional, though never dry. Of late, amongst us, a recurring theme has been developed where one of us would report a situation, and someone would ask:

How can that be improved?

The answers so far have been largely humorous, ranging from:

A double espresso would help to “wake me up when a time-travel machine has been invented”.

Like most great ideas, it sounds absurd at first. My point is, it’s not so much arriving – at ideation, invention, and innovation – than consciously creating space for it.

What I have learnt is this. If we create a space, and invite our colleagues to innovate, a mindset change takes place, and it can lead to wonderful results – provided there is positive engagement and support from top-management.

My challenge to you, my industry peers – should you choose to accept it – is to find the guts to pull your employees away from their overloaded mailboxes even if it is for (only) one hour a week, to focus on innovation. After all, as Alan Kay beautifully puts it. “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

"Wake me up when a time-travel machine has been invented."