By Gijs van Wulfen

Operational excellence is a philosophy of the workplace where problem-solving, teamwork, and leadership results in the ongoing improvement in an organization.(businessdictionary.com). It’s extremely popular and often embedded in Lean and Six Sigma improvement programmes.

In practice a lot of companies focus continuously on doing things better and cheaper. Cost cutting is essential to keep companies profitable on short term. But in the long run you cannot survive on doing the same things better and cheaper.

Better and cheaper newspapers could not stop digital news. Better and cheaper postal services could not stop email. Better and cheaper travel stores could not stop online travel bookings via TripAdvisor. Better and cheaper recruiting could not stop offshore outsourcing. Better and cheaper department stores could not stop e-commerce.

New technology, new regulations, new entrants and new business models might disrupt your market. It’s innovation excellence which gets you your profits tomorrow. That’s why it’s wise to look out for more disruptive ways to innovate your company, as the light bulb wasn’t invented by continuously improving the candle….

Operational excellence gets us our profits today. Innovation excellence will get us our profits tomorrow.

There are no old roads to new destinations. How do you find them?

Be inspired by the famous words of the historical Apple campaign of 1997: Think Different.

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Operational excellence needs innovation excellence. They are like brother and sister. So start listening too to the misfits, the rebels and the troublemakers in your organisation and beyond. Give real innovation a chance.

Wishing you lots of success on your innovation expeditions!