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About the Author

Rich Meyer

Rich Meyer

Manager of Faculty and Innovation Services
Purdue Technical Assistance Program

  • 20+ years of innovation experience in the automotive industry
  • Business growth and innovation services for Purdue University for four years
  • BS in Electrical Engineering, University of Missouri-Rolla
  • MBA, Anderson University

When To Innovate

by Rich Meyer
Purdue Technical Assistance Program

Sure, innovation is one of the big buzzwords in business today. Everybody agrees innovation is important. Then why are so many companies not doing it?

In my work with businesses, the most common reason I've heard for not working on the next product or service is that they just don't have the time or people to do it. They say it's just not convenient right now.

The reality of business is that a convenient time to innovate simply never exists. In the spring of 2008, the common refrain I heard from businesses with no innovation program was that they had all the business they could handle. Why innovate when you've got plenty of business?

Then the recession hit. By wintertime, these same companies were telling me that they had laid off people and didn't have the resources to work on innovation.

So when do you innovate? When business is good but you don't have time? When business is bad and you don't have the money or people?

In truth, the best time to innovate is continually. It's important to have a process in place to make regular progress on your next big moneymaker, regardless of market conditions. If you don't have enough work, innovation is a great way to achieve profitable growth. If you've got all the work you can handle, make it a priority to replace low-profit-margin business with high-profit-margin innovations.

When is the best time to innovate? Now. Today. Get to it!

Purdue Technical Assistance Program
Purdue's Technical Assistance Program (TAP)/Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) served more than 500 Indiana companies with workforce training and production needs from July 2010 to June 2011. Purdue MEP programs assist Indiana companies with advanced manufacturing efforts and continuous improvement principles as core workforce training and production strategies. Purdue's TAP is a NIST MEP network affiliate. For more information, contact Rich Meyer at 765-404-2128 or

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