Most people believe that a startup loses its innovation edge once it turns into a large corporation, and yet year after year, we see those same “large corporations” coming up with new and often game-changing innovations. GE, for example, is not ready to lose its innovation edge to its size and even has goals to bring manufacturing back to the US through innovation. In 2008, the company invested $1B in manufacturing, launching 11 new products, building and revamping six plants, and hiring 3,000 new workers.
In order to maintain its innovation edge, GE started FastWorks, an approach that combines a set of tools and behaviors to deliver better outcomes at faster speeds. More specifically, FastWorks is about getting to market quickly with something that may not be 100% perfect, but that allows the customer to provide real feedback. Their first FastWorks project involved a small group of people that created a refridgerator with French doors for their high end 'Monogram' line in just three months. The results of FastWorks has been astounding, with a 50% reduction in cost – twice as fast as average program speed and double the sales.
Here are a few reasons for GE's success and what others in the industry can take away:
- Implement innovative tools and approaches (e.g. FastWorks) that allow quick delivery to the customer
- Collaborate with customers early on in the development process to learn quickly and avoid risk of post-launch rejection
- Assimilate and deploy a hands-on group with a cross-functional development team that is highly engaged in every step of development and manufacturing
- Revisit and change interactions with suppliers, heeping finance teams and leadership engaged in a way allows quicker, smarter vendor collaboration decisions
- Train leaders and get their executive support to ensure successful changes and promote awareness
While running an entire global organization like a startup may be a stretch, companies can still take small steps to adopt an innovative strategy and culture by building practices that are focused on serving customers more efficiently.
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