“iPhone, Google, Samsung Mobile Phones and other products” are usually mentioned when it comes to innovation. It seems that innovation is strongly connected to new products everyone can see and even experience. The talk about Process Innovation is rather limited or left to the “process specialists”.
Doblin has shown that the Return On Investment (ROI) of product innovations is by far lower than what you get when you rethink the way you make, sell and deliver your product or service. The HOW is much more important than the WHAT.
Some years ago when we established our business in Singapore, the registration of our company was easy. We just needed to register our company with the government agency through a very simple and hassle-free online application. However, setting up a bank account for the company was not that simple. Doing it online was not possible. We made some calls to the major foreign banks like HSBC and Standard Chartered and we realised then that they were not ready to support SMEs. Then, we heard about OCBC and their new offerings for SMEs. We gave OCBC a try.
On the phone, Yu Jin, one of their bankers, explained the advantages of their new SME business account model. Everything looked very promising until he asked: “When can you come to our office to open the bank account?”
“Today is not possible since we are with clients all day.”
“What about tomorrow?”
“No way. We are with a ministry from eight to six. After that I fly out to clients in China to spend a week with them”, I answered somewhat frustrated. I could not see an obvious way to solve our problem of opening our company bank account. And – much more important – to get our business finally up and running.
Still on the phone, Yu Jin thought for a while and asked
“What do you do tonight?” And, before I could get irritated he completed his thought: “Can I come to your place to finalise this application with you?”
At eight in the evening, he arrived at my house, explained all the formalities to me and my partner, we signed the papers and … voila. Problem solved.
On the one hand, I am very sure that at that time OCBC’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) did not explicitly tell their bankers to go the extra mile, to do something outstanding to help their clients with a creative solution. On the other hand, their culture must have been built in a way that people felt encouraged and empowered to do so.
The “WHAT”, which is the bank account, may be offered by other banks in a similar way for a similar price. The “HOW” makes the difference. Until today, we really appreciate the open mind-set Yu Jun was showing. He did not express the typical “Can Not” attitude. Instead, he delivered the service in a very unexpected way, an innovative way. He did something many people would not be keen to explore since it was beyond what the company said he could or should do.
This is what I call “Everyday Innovation”.
Waiting for the next “great innovative product idea” may never get you one step closer to a higher level of customer satisfaction, more revenue and consistent business growth. Instilling an innovative mind-set facilitated by some simple creativity tools that are supported by empowerment does. Process Innovation creates much more value to the business than one realises. It can be done by nearly everyone in your organisation at any time because processes run every day. Everyday Innovation will change your organisation.
 Larry Keeley, Ryan Pikkel, Brian Quinn, Helen Walters: Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of Building Breakthroughs. Wiley, 2013