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Business INSIGHTS e-News for Manufacturers

About the Author

Fred Botterbusch, MANTEC

Fred Botterbusch

Director of Operations

  • 30-year history of management/ executive positions in manufacturing, corporate development, business growth, strategic planning and communications, product and market development, human resources, operations and project management
  • Founding Member, Technavate, a regional collaboration of business development resources committed to improving technology transfer
  • Master's in Administrative Science, John Hopkins University; Bachelor's in Political Science, Gettysburg College (magna cum laude)

Leading Strategic Innovation

by Fred Botterbusch
Director of Operations, MANTEC

Let's start with one indisputable fact: Innovation does not occur on its own. Innovation is proactive change, and leadership is required to overcome the status quo. Manufacturers tend to fall in love with their equipment, technology and skill base, while demanding consistent practices and standardized production. How can we overcome these tendencies and also drive creativity?

Embrace the notion that you must be able to do both. Cleveland State University Dean Ned Hill writes that management must hold two contradictory thoughts simultaneously. A growing, thriving organization must develop the capability to sustain proven practices while disrupting those that must adapt to changing market forces. Innovation must coexist with stability.

The very top of your strategic plan is the place to start - your mission and vision statements. If these don't say something about being an innovative entity, then why would you expect your organization to be innovative? Far beyond words, leadership must be a catalyst for an innovation culture. Does everyone have a role to play in creating innovation, and will resources be dedicated to establishing a culture of innovation?

As manufacturers, we promote lean production processes and the continuous improvement culture that sustains them. Now we must develop the new CI, continuous innovation, a process that generates a continuous flow of creative ideas through a pipeline that feeds your product portfolio, expands your market participation and more efficiently sorts out winners from losers.

Doug Hall, founder of Eureka! Ranch®, describes this continuous innovation as a systematic process. Companies that manage a regular flow of activities through this process regularly bring something new to market. With ideas flowing continuously, momentum fuels a true innovation culture.

I challenge you to take out your strategic plan, update it into a strategic innovation plan and begin transforming your company into a self-sustaining enterprise that no longer accepts the status quo.

MANTEC is a private nonprofit organization that serves the manufacturers of South Central Pennsylvania as a trusted partner in their efforts to strategically and continuously strengthen their businesses. MANTEC is one of seven Industrial Resource Centers located throughout Pennsylvania, and supported through the Department of Community and Economic Development. In addition, MANTEC is an affiliate of the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). For more information, visit or call 717-843-5054

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