Understanding What You Have and How to Turn it Into a New Product or Service
Organized by the Research Innovation Commercialization Centre and hosted by Sheridan College, this introductory session of Innovate > Forward laid a solid foundation for the attendees. This session included two speakers Andrew Maxwell from the Canadian Innovation Centre and Larry Fitzgerald, the Site Leader and Integrated Supply Chain Director for Honeywell at the Mississauga plant. In addition to the speakers, there was an interesting demo of an automated sorter that is in its early stages of development.
Andrew Maxwell posed the following question: What stops a company from being innovative? The answer: the company’s leadership. Since innovation is all about doing something differently, senior management typically place restrictions on the exploration of new ideas as they are more concerned with ensuring the way things are currently being done continues as smoothly as possible. Therefore, if companies are serious about innovation, ensuring all the leadership roles are on board is the first step.
Larry Fitzgerald presented an overview of how Honeywell continues to innovate and improve business processes.
Honeywell’s Innovation DNA can be broken down in to five key elements:
- Voice of the customer – Not only is it important to understand how your customer uses your product but also how to express their needs and wants in their own language.
- Integrated Product Development System – Having formalized phases of the product development cycle will ensure everyone is on the same track and is working towards to the same goal. Gate reviews are held when products move between phases allowing major stakeholders to get updated on the progress of the product.
- Opportunity Reviews – Every new product or innovation should be carefully examined with a range of stakeholders not just the business development staff. Creating a well-rounded discussion early in the new product cycle is key to avoid unprofitable products and highlight products that have strong profit potential.
- Core and Non-Core Products – Identifying what products align with the company’s vision of the future is very important. This process forces management to think about where research and development investments will be spent and which products lines should be phased out.
- Honeywell Operating System – Honeywell’s Operating system was deployed in the production facility in Toronto in five phases spanning four years. Each phase had well defined initiatives with the early phases focused on getting strategy defined and management on the same page. Later phases focused on employee coaching and productivity programs and tools. This deployment of their operating system was summed up in Larry’s presentation with the following: “Powerful tools with a culture to use and sustain them”.
One of the most interesting parts of Larry Fitzgerald’s presentation is when he discussed the Kaizen program. The goal is not only the continuous improvement of processes but also employee engagement. He noted that with the substantial rise in employee Kaizen initiatives over the past few years, employee satisfaction rose in tandem.
Sartrex Power Control Systems is currently designing and implementing a similar Kaizen program. We are looking forward to seeing continuous process improvement results as well as increased employee engagement.
Thank you to all of the organizers of Innovate > Forward, and to the guest speakers.
Sartrex Power Control Systems is looking forward to the next session on February 23rd, 2012:
How New Ideas are Formed and Where to Find Them
The Innovate In York Manufacturing Conference was held on December 6th, 2011. With 250 delegates in attendance there was plenty of opportunity to network and learn from industry leaders.
The keynote speaker was Idris Mootee, the CEO of Idea Couture, a global strategic innovation firm with its headquarters located in Toronto, Canada. Mr. Mootee provided an interesting take on the global business climate and detailed various insights for the manufacturers present at this forum.
The year of global hyper-connectivity: The Arab spring demonstrated the power of social networks to mobilize large sections of a population. Companies that are not embracing this new wave of technology will be at a disadvantage in the future.
Expiring business model: Mr. Mootee cautioned the forum about numerous industries restructuring and how long held “truths” are no longer valid. One example discussed is how the largest, most powerful players are no longer assured continuing success. The primary issue with large and more mature players is their lack of ability to adapt to a continuously changing environment. Smaller firms are inherently able to capitalize on opportunities that require a rapid rethink of how they do business. These adjustments are required more often as uncertainties in the global economy make long term plans much harder to develop and adhere to.
An Industry Breaking Point was discussed by Mr. Mootee as an important concept for industry players to be aware of. An audience member raised the question about how to identify an industry breaking point. The answer provided by the Mr. Mootee was – an industry breaking point occurs when a commonly held company asset turns into a liability. The example used was aging information systems infrastructure as systems that use to be sufficient to run a corporation end up destroying value by high maintenance costs, prolonged downtime, and inadequate features for today’s evolved business climate. This is an example of when an asset becomes a future liability which results in a dilemma for organizations: new investment vs. continuing the status quo.
The last major take away from Mr. Mootee was his assertion that the future is about platforms and capabilities rather than products. He stressed the need to develop a whole ecosystem of innovation rather than a ridged product. The rise of platforms in software is evident with Google’s Android operating system, Salesforce’s Force.com, Facebook’s applications which have all gained steam over the past few years. Having a strong base and allowing others to build upon it has proven to be a very successful business model in the software industry, however in the manufacturing of physical goods industry, players need to consider how best to parallel this concept.
Doug Lindeblom is the Director of Economic Strategy for the regional municipality of York. Mr. Lindeblom has been working with various stakeholders in the manufacturing industry in conjunction with Brock Dickinson to develop the Innovate York: Guide for York Region Manufacturers. This guide will be coming out in January 2012 and will discuss manufacturing trends, existing partnerships, intellectual Property issues, funding opportunities, and more.
This year’s Innovate In York conference provided practical information that will help Sartrex continue to evolve into a premium design and manufacturing company.
Thank you to all the organizers!