The Opportunity for Innovation is in the Transition
Many years ago, I worked at a newspaper within the production department. Writing, designing, printing, assembling and delivering a newspaper — on deadline — is nothing short of a miracle. Years later, I still describe the process and the infinite number of things that can go wrong at each stage of production.
Later, as an analyst, my job was to collect data on the production of products and services at different organizations. We were team-managed with engineers, business leaders, and trade experts that met on a frequent basis to identify gaps in production that cost the company time and money. What we realized was that innovation was essentially no different from other strategic initiatives when it came to the impact of restricted resources, visibility, and execution.
The State of Transition
We recorded virtually ever aspect of our production process and identified the issues that were costing the company the most. We identified two key findings with the data:
- The issues that cost us the most money were not being worked on. Resources were always applied to problems that might have higher visibility, which didn’t always translate to the highest cost.
- The majority of the issues that we had were in the transition or hand-off from one team to another, one platform to another, or from the company to the client. For clarity, the definition of transition is “the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.”
I still apply these findings, decades later, to the work we do now. A simple example I deal with each day is blogging. Blogging always looks and sounds simple — but to be effective, there are things you have to do to prepare for, write, publish, and promote your blog posts. Here are some key transitions, questions, and commented solutions for blogging (in map form, because that’s what we do):
Writing a post is often pretty simple, but there are some transitions that take place before and after writing the post that warrant solutions to fill the gap.
- Research. We needed a tool to help us easily identify topics and data to write about.
- Writing. We needed a tool to help us write without having distractions but that would still do a great job with formatting for our CMS.
- Adding Imagery. We needed to find images quickly that were dazzling and original, but that wouldn’t break the bank.
- Scheduling. We needed to find a solution where we could view our content calendar and ensure our posts weren’t all piled up between authors, and that would push promotions if we moved the post around.
- Promotion. We needed a tool that would quickly and easily promote our content throughout our social media channels.
As you can see, little of this has to do with the actual writing of a blog post. But, all of these issues were the transitions before and after writing the post that were really taking up all of our effort. In order to maximize resources and spend less time on those transitions, we found innovative results for each. For others, we had to build them (like an email to CMS integration).
In our marketing efforts with clients, we often see the transition as the issue. I’d encourage you to write down your processes like this:
- What is the overall activity?
- What are the events that lead to the activity?
- What are the events that occur after the activity?
- What are the challenges with each?
- Is there a solution to overcome those challenges?
In this day and age, it’s difficult not to have a problem that no one else has already thought of and corrected. You’ll be surprised at the applications, solutions, platforms, scripts and resources that are out there. If they exist, you’ll have a solution that can help you become more efficient. If you can’t find a solution, you just may have the next big innovation that everyone is looking for!