Thursday, 12 April 2012

Models of Innovation

I was discussing with one of my team at work today the perennial questions of "why can we never get anything done around here...?".  (As an aside, my experiences of the slow pace of innovation and delivery are universal across both of my employers - Boots and Nottingham City Council).  My colleague pointed me in the direction of an interesting article at the Harvard Business Review blog.  The post essentially makes the argument that large organisations are fundamentally risk-averse so will always stifle innovation in the hope of minimising mistakes.  This feels like it has the ring of truth to it.  My old boss talks about "good learn" - let's try things, see if they work and if they don't then learn why not and try something else.  Easy to say but less easy to implement when you're facing into that month's P&L...
One of my objectives if I get to go to America will be to visit other retail businesses, not only to see how they interact with the city that they are based in but also to experience the way that they operate: how are new ideas created, what's the process for getting things signed off, what does it feel like to work there?
The article specifically mentions how Target evolved out of the Dayton Hudson Corporation (there is a lengthy run-through of that here) through being a separate business unit that eventually outgrew its parent.  Target has a longstanding relationship with Boots that means that a lot of brands familiar to British shoppers are available in America - and so I hope to be able to use this relationship to arrange a visit to the Target head office in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

Second on my list of retailers I love to visit is Walmart.  A polarising company in many ways but a dominant retail force.  I find pages like this that try to describe a corporate culture absolutely fascinating.  I find a lot of sentiments laudable and wonder if they are true in real life.  The stuff about staying close to your workforce ("associates") and listening to their ideas is really interesting.  The company is well known for not being that open to outside visitors but I'm hoping for the best.  At the very least I can go to the Visitor Centre...

I'm hoping to use these visits and any others I manage to arrange to give me perspective on how I and others create plans, generate ideas and get things done.  Can't wait!

No comments:

Post a Comment