Too often we link the word “innovation” with “big.” However, innovation can be small, too, and those small innovations are important. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, once said that his company produces, “a ton of fine-grained innovation” on a daily basis. He was talking about small-scale revolutions in efficiency and cost controls, all of which help Amazon keep prices low and selection high for its customers.
But here’s what Bezos didn’t say. Those small innovations come from a big, innovative idea. They are directly tied to Amazon’s mission “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
And that’s the key behind innovations on a daily basis: The little things that make organizations better places to work or more efficient at what they do stem from the big idea.
Let’s say you want to reduce the number of accidents in your factory next month. Well, certainly you’ll get a team together to work out ideas to achieve that very admirable goal. Or maybe you want to ship your products faster around the holidays. Then, absolutely, you’ll call a few meetings and charge a couple of executives with finding a way to do that.
Those are important innovations in daily operations, and they can be spurred on by the top leadership. But they are also one-time innovations.
Now let’s say you’d like to innovate all the time in dozens of different daily operations, in ways you haven’t even been able to conceive of yet, or even in areas where you didn’t think innovation was necessary — or possible.
To do that, everyone — from leadership to frontline workers — has to see the value of reinvention, of innovation. They have to understand the impact innovation will have on the operation as a whole. And they have to know what role they would play in the changes that would come from innovation to daily operations.
Getting all of that in place requires the company to have a big goal: To continually redefine and reinvent itself. Unleash that sentiment, and you’ll likely get innovation — a ton of fine-grained innovation — on a daily basis.