Bold ideas in employment may be counterintuitive but you have to be willing to fail to win big.

I recently attended the Southern California Logistics & Supply Chain Summit hosted by the Center for Supply Chain & Logistics of the Drucker School of Management and the Inland Empire Economic Partnership. There were several interesting trends and innovations; however, the keynote speaker from Walgreens stood out in my mind.

If you are unwilling to try something new and fail, you will be a miserable failure at innovation. You must be willing to “go BIG or go home”. Randy Lewis, the former Senior Vice President at Walgreens launched a division-wide disability hiring initiative based on the principle of “same jobs, same performance, same pay” which resulted in 10% of its workforce composed of people with disabilities. He had loyal fans for employees – both those with disabilities and those without. Who said we cannot be innovative in a manufacturing or distribution environment?

Innovation is essential to succeed; it is no longer enough to be “good”. You must be able to stand out from the crowd to succeed in today’s business environment. Listen to pioneers like Randy. They will provide ideas and spur thought. Read about the latest trends. Attend events. For example, the APICS-IE executive panel & networking symposium has several innovation gurus on our panel. Value your supply chain employees – ASK them. Certainly if Walgreens can utilize people with disabilities and come out with equal efficiency with only half the absenteeism and workers comp costs, it is worth thinking outside the box.