Balance innovation and continuous improvement


All of us know that if you we want to make sweeping changes, we need to innovate. If done incrementally (in small improvements), it won’t attract much attention. FedEx became a success story as they changed people’s expectations (absolutely, positively overnight) of delivery services, delivered on their promise and charged a premium for it.  However, innovation projects are never “complete”.

Since then, FedEx has embarked on continuous improvement of their “absolutely, positively overnight” service. One such improvement is information sharing. Every shipper and receiver (or anyone with the tracking #) can find out exactly where the shipment is at a particular point in time. FedEx customers may not need all the information that they provide but making the information available will only enhance the credibility of the

One more point to note is that radical innovations are risky, too. Not all of them will succeed. So, you should ensure that there is a “tolerance” for failure at your workplace. Second, you should be willing to emotionally detach from this failure and embark on the next innovation project. Whenever an innovation project succeeds, the next immediate step would be to put that project on a “continuous improvement” roadmap. Because no project is really “complete”.

In summary take a look at all the projects that are taking place in your life and it’s easy to categorize each one of them under “Innovation” or “Continuous Improvement”. If there are no innovation projects, there is a serious problem. If there are past innovation projects that are not  under a “Continuous improvement” plan, there is an issue too. The beauty is in balancing the Innovation and Continuous Improvement initiatives.


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