So at the beginning of 2008 firstly, I want to wish everybody a fine, good, healthy and happy New Year. Trying to look ahead I questioned myself what will be the challenge for the Agri & Food Chains in 2008. That’s an easy one, I thought. It’s the ability to innovate the chain to fulfil the wishes of customers in their search for new products etcetera. It is about “Chain Innovation Power”.
Thinking further on this I asked myself “Okay, but what is innovation than?” Is it developing a new kind of feed chickens can better skate on?
Is it developing a new machine which is pelleting in exact cubes so they better fit in our silo? Is it developing an information system so that we know exactly which pellet was eaten by which pig? Or is it something else, something new nobody knows about that is possible and can be done. For me, one thing is sure: that is the definition of innovation I hear the most “New, not done before”. But is this Chain Innovation Power? I don’t think so, but what is it than?
Composition of elements
For me Chain Innovation Power is something else. I think there are four elements to it:
D = Developing
Of course, the ability of chains to develop new things is part of innovation. But in my opinion it is not the most important one. I do not only want to look at new technology, but also at new ways to manage, communicate, etc.
P = Practise
A more important element is the way chains are using innovation in their chain, in production and in processes. Here it is not about newness but about usability. Here it’s about the culture to change, about imagining what you can do with it, about translating the novelty to the benefit of your chain.
G = Guts
Do you have the guts to go nuts? For innovations you need guts. Why? Innovations (can) go wrong. Then you have spend money, without having benefits from it. But if you are always waiting till some else has done it for you there is no glory. Besides it is not only guts you need, but also to be able to count the blessings innovation has brought and not only the flops you had. No flops, no innovation.
C = Collaboration
The last and most important element is the ability for chains to work together; collaboration of farmers, feed-mills, logistics, research, OEM, retail, etc. Only by an open and trustful collaboration innovation in chains can be successful.
Looking at the defined elements they can be put into a formula to “calculate” Chain Innovation Power:
CIP = D¹ + P²+ G³ + C4
In my opinion a formula like this shows a good balance between the importance of the elements. One thing that is clear for me: the most important one is not developing new things but collaboration in the chain.
Writing this weblog and “defining a formula” I did no research on literature and fieldwork by analysing all kinds of successful innovations and flops. I just used my rocket-science-theory by following my gut feeling in this. I’m very interested in what your stomach is telling you about this. Let me know.