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Business INSIGHTS e-News for Manufacturers

About the Author

Bob Schmidt

Senior Manufacturing Consultant

  • 24 years of hands-on experience in diverse manufacturing environments; product line and contract manufacturing as well as the design and build of capital equipment; wood, metal, polymer and electronics industries
  • Corporate experience with TRW, Eaton Corporation and privately held local companies
  • Expertise including operational assessment and strategy, productivity improvement, Lean Manufacturing principles, organizational change, operational/technical management, Six Sigma design, technical/consultative sales, ISO/QS and more
  • BSME, Cleveland State University; Six Sigma, SBTI; Lean Manufacturing, NIST

Executing an Innovation-focused Growth Strategy

by Bob Schmidt

Innovation should by its very nature be disruptive. The more innovative the product or service is, the more disruption it will cause, often to the point of creating chaos within an organization.

As we all know, people don't like disruption - let alone chaos - in their personal or business lives. When disruption occurs in business, there is a strong tendency for the corporate "antibodies" to attack the disruption, even if the disruption (remember: it is an innovation) is best for the long-term good of the company and its employees. In nature, "antibodies" autonomously perform a critical task. People in business do the same. However, actions taken to protect the day-to-day business interests and the bottom line can often trigger decisions that inhibit the advancement of innovation.

Senior leadership must not only be aware of this natural tendency but also anticipate where the "antibodies" (in the form of employee concerns) will come from and what they (leaders) can do to minimize them. Where should you be looking? Success with a growth strategy based upon innovation requires the ability to both create ideas for meaningfully unique products and services and execute to get relevant, unique products and services to market.

Tip 1: Consider conducting an assessment of employees with the goal of understanding how people feel about the company's ability to create and execute an innovative idea. The sample assessment below, provided by Eureka! Ranch, utilizes a baseline reference point that directs leadership to the most critical concerns.

Tip 2: Build in metrics to whatever course of action is taken so that you can gauge your progress.

Whatever your barriers may be, never stop innovating. The future is depending on you.

Since 1984, Cleveland, Ohio-based MAGNET - the Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network - has assisted thousands of manufacturers through its Edison Technology Center programs, Manufacturing Extension Partnership services and business incubation efforts. MAGNET is a "one-stop shop" for manufacturers and entrepreneurs seeking the resources to become or remain globally competitive. For more information, visit or call Linda Barita at 216-391-7766.

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