Once a toothpaste factory faced a packaging problem. Many empty boxes were shipped without the tubes inside. Therefore, the company hired a consultancy firm to solve the issue.
After spending a lot of time and money, the problem was solved. A high-tech precision scale was installed at the end of the production line. The scale would trigger a bell and stop assembly line whenever a box weighed less than the required weight. Each time the line stopped, someone would check and offload the empty box from the line, and then restart the machine. As a result, the company no longer shipped empty boxes and started gaining market share.
Interestingly, during one of his production review walks, the CEO discovered that the number of boxes picked up by the scale were zero instead of a dozen as it used to previously. He suspected a defect in the scale. But the investigation into this matter reconfirmed that the scale was working fine.
Perplexed, the CEO walked down the production line and noticed a desk fan placed just a few feet before the precision scale. The desk fan was blowing away all the empty boxes into the bin. One of the workers explained, “The guy responsible for checking the scale and restarting the line was tired of walking over every time the bell rang. So, he placed the fan there.”
The story, humorously, shatters three common myths about “innovation”:
- Innovation isn’t always about cutting-edge technology. Sometimes, the solution is so simple that we tend to miss it!
- Innovation isn’t always about new solutions. Sometimes, it is about revising an existing solution in a better way!
- Innovation isn’t always about top-down strategies. Sometimes, it is tactically driven- bottom-up by the execution teams!
Often, success lies in our willingness to imbibe ‘incremental’ innovations in the way we run our personal and professional lives.