Tag Archive: creativity

People Rule

July 4th, 2018

Why does Southwest Airlines outperform the competition by a long shot in employee turnover (7% vs. 25% industry average)?  People!

As our long-term readers know, we believe that people rule!  There is just no doubt about it – our most successful clients are similar to Southwest and JetBlue as it relates to people – executives view them as assets; not costs.  Instead of stifling creativity and success, they encourage it!

We have to imagine that no one sets out to stifle creativity when they leave for work in the morning (it sounds like a miserable existence) . Yet that is what we find in the vast majority of companies.  Sometimes, it is due to the rules and regulations that are supposed to protect threats.

For example, recently we received dismal service from a major bank.  Certainly, the employee helping us with the transactions meant no harm and wanted to help. However, her overriding need was to remain employed which meant following rules to the T….and beyond.  Taking zero risks while servicing customers is clearly celebrated and we felt the pain. Our account kept going on hold for no reason. Checks bounced. Silly requirements were communicated (we ‘the bank’ missed a space on this form and so you must jump through 10 hoops so we can get our paperwork in order). The list wents on. We went up the chain to no avail. We must follow the 10 hoops, avoid cracks on the sidewalk (reminded me of Jack Nicholson in As Good as it Gets), swim the English channel and more…

On the other hand, a business bank focused on service was able to navigate the same federal and state requirements remotely and immediately.  What was blamed on rules and regulations were clearly bank policies. Are you making your customers avoid the cracks in the sidewalk to work with you?  Or are you rolling out the red carpet? It didn’t cost more at one bank vs. the other, although we would have paid more by the time we went through the first few hoops.  

Do you care about what your customers care about or do you care about rules for the sake of rules? Or, put another way – do you care about the customer result or the process used along the way? (assuming no bad motivations)

Related statistics
According to Gallup, 85% of employees are not engaged at work.  Yet, companies with highly engaged workers outperform their peers by 147%.  

We have no doubt the employee at the large bank fell into the 85% category whereas the business bank is more likely in the 15%. We know the banker at the business bank will go over and beyond.  

Which employee would you rather have service you and your firm?



January 30th, 2017

I am the Chair of the Innovation Awards of the Manufacturers’ Summit for the Inland Empire, and we have been quite busy preparing for this Friday’s summit (see below). It is important to encourage innovation for the obvious reason that if we do not innovate, we will stand still. And, if we are standing still, we end up moving backwards while our competition passes us. What have you innovated lately?

One tip to implement this week:

Innovation is certainly not something to accomplish in a week; however, it is definitely something to start this week. My best clients innovate by inspiring and rewarding creativity. The executives provide a vision of the future and encourage employees and partners to innovate. As my consulting mentor says, innovation is applied creativity. I bet you have a LOT more innovators (or potential innovators) at your company than you realize.

Are you creating a culture of innovation in your company, department or just with your colleagues? Start by encouraging thinking and testing of ideas. Find areas where you’ve already innovated and apply for next year’s awards. Make sure your employees and colleagues are recognized for their successes!

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”


How Creativity Matters

March 2nd, 2016

supply chainThis weekend, I went to a “paint your pet” event at the Purple Easel. You’ll see my handiwork below of my cat, Smokey. Whether this looks like Smokey is debatable; however, it reminded me of the value of creativity. The teacher encouraged the class to use color and take a creative bent. In business, I find that my most successful clients encourage their employees to be creative, generate new ideas and innovate. These leaders have told me that some of their best ideas that benefited customer loyalty, growth and profits came direct from employees. Do you encourage creativity and innovation?


One tip to implement this week:

So, how can we encourage creativity? First, if you are an employee, take a few minutes every day to think about new ideas, new ways to perform your daily tasks, new ways to collaborate, etc. Just by thinking about it, you’re likely to come up with something you might never have thought of otherwise.

If you are a leader, encourage your employees to be creative and innovative. Provide them with guidelines and ‘safe’ work spaces for experimentation. Encourage trials and tests for new ideas. Celebrate failed ideas that they are willing to try. Do NOT give them a hard time for a failure that happens to negatively affect you. Eventually, they will not only come up with a good idea but, more importantly, they are likely to become more engaged and interested in their work!

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”


Creating a Culture of Innovation

July 24th, 2014
innovation, success

Pinpointing success is about re-packaging—literally and figuratively—by connecting the dots in a new way and seeing trends and hidden profit opportunities.

There has never been a better time to cultivate an environment of innovation! We are in what has been referred to as the “new normal” business environment. Gone are the days of the last decade when we saw examples of 10 percent sales growth achieved solely by picking up the phone. Although we are in the recovery, we must be deliberate if we want to grow.  It will not happen by default.  Customers are demanding more for less at quicker speeds than ever before.  Speed wins business.  For most of my clients, if they can deliver 5% better (consistently of course) than their competition, they’ll win the business.  Last but not least, searching for ways to increase margins is a never-ending focus.  To successfully navigate these increasingly complex waters, innovation is a must.

In today’s economy, it is not only important to think about how to incorporate innovation into your business, it is vital. Slow and steady progress and continuous improvement no longer will cut it. In the past, “good” worked; today, it might not even keep you in business. It takes more than “good” to stand out in the crowd and deliver consistent and increasing levels of profitability and customer service; instead, radical change and innovation are required. Focus on how to create and leverage innovation to not only improve your profitability but also to leapfrog your competition. You must change the playing field—and therefore the rules of the game— and throw out your old business models and practices. Instead, you need to think and practice innovation.

Recently, when reading “Inside Steve’s Brain” by Leander Kahney, about the late Steve Jobs and creative innovation, I thought I came up short in that department. Imagine my delight when I discovered that I actually have a talent in innovation as defined by Jobs, which, of course, I now fully agree with!

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”

Thus, innovation is not some complex, non-understandable phenomenon. In addition to pure creativity, it’s about re-packaging—literally and figuratively—by connecting the dots in a new way and seeing trends and hidden profit opportunities. So, how do you go about creating a culture of innovation? There are three basic ways:  1) Focus on the customer.  2) It’s all about the people.  3) Flexibility

1. Focus on the customer. Everyone says they focus on the customer’s needs, but do they? Are they doing what they think the customer wants (i.e., that happens to fit with their idea of which products have the best features, or with current branding, or with manufacturing capabilities) or are they accessing what the customer values?

So, how do you find out? Talk with customers. Ask for the laundry list of requests but do not stop there. Ask questions to help prioritize the list with the customer in mind. Which are relevant to how the customer competes in the marketplace? Make sure your entire organization is focused on the customer — asking questions and providing value but not just jumping to each, unprioritized non-value added request.

2. It’s all about the people. It sounds strange for a discussion about innovation; however, the best people will create innovative ideas, products, and services. Consider asking your employees, your customers, your suppliers and other partners and trade associations. Undoubtedly, there will be a plethora of ideas.

Value the ideas, and give your employees room to try them out. The quickest way to kill a culture of innovation is to encourage ideas but not follow through and support them. It is much harder to implement than it sounds! In my experience, the first time an idea fails and causes month-end issues or customer problems, innovation is stifled. To counter this, we must reward mistakes as it is a critical component of cultivating a culture of innovation. However, we should address a trend that reflects the same mistakes since it appears learning hasn’t been incorporated.

3. Flexibility: Do not become married to one idea, one product, one customer’s perception, etc. Instead, create solutions that build in flexibility — think of the nontraditional “and” of two, seemingly opposite ideas. For example, instead of thinking that reducing inventory will result in poor customer service—since you might not have as many products available to ship—think about how to reduce inventory and increase customer service simultaneously. Build flexibility into the process, but do not throw the baby out with the bathwater — it still must operate within the guidelines.

Think about creating a culture of innovation, and you won’t be disappointed.  No one can do it alone; why not get your entire team thinking of how to “win”?


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Profit through People



Start off 2013 with Innovation & Creativity

January 2nd, 2013

It is an opportune time to think about your strategy for 2013. If you want to succeed, you must innovate!

My cat Smokey proved that “if you don’t know you can’t do it, you just might succeed” – see his feat in the picture (no claws yet he still made it up the tree)!

After working with some highly creative people (such as my R&D Director in my former VP of Operations role and my friend and colleague who is a Caltech PhD), I discovered that even though I would never be considered creative in many respects, there was no reason to lose hope; instead, we need to be creative in our own way! When it came to seeing trends and opportunities in the supply chain where others didn’t, I left my competition in the dust. How are you creative? And how can you leverage your creativity?

I find that getting ideas on what’s possible helps to start the creative juices. Feel free to rummage through my articles for ideas on how you can stand out in the crowd – I have no doubt, there are countless opportunities.

© Lisa Anderson 2013. All rights reserved.