Returning innovation to the manufacturing sector

Taking online classesWhen William Hurford Lawrence received the first graduate degree issued by Washington State University in 1902, it’s a pretty safe bet that neither he nor anyone else at the school could have envisioned the advent of online learning, let alone the computer.

Today, however, colleges and universities across the nation – including WSU, WSU Vancouver and neighboring Clark College – are offering a growing number of online courses for working professionals and local undergraduates. It’s a trend that is rewriting the book on American higher education, creating sweeping change in course delivery.

As taught in the seminar, following the outline below can help you achieve step function improvement in performance:

  1. Select the innovation project
  2. Validate the customer/supplier relationship model
  3. Identify all customers and suppliers
  4. Identify the innovation sweet spots
  5. Key value drives
  6. Key complexity drives
  7. Define innovative solutions
  8. Iterative process that solves for the best solution
  9. Develop an implementation strategy
  10. Implement the strategy

Innovation, even the accelerated, structured methodology developed by endersgroup, is a messy and iterative process. Breaking down self-imposed boundaries and expanding your canvas creates an array of new possibilities. Patience, great listening skills and complete participation by all stakeholders are required if your innovation will achieve the optimum result. Many times the most significant innovations come from the least expected source.

Finance departments generally have the discipline and technical skills to channel these new possibilities into an executable plan. Yet, the tendency in many businesses is to think of these finance attributes as controlling and limiting when, in fact, they are liberating.

The CFO whose team participated in the seminar recently sent this update:
“Regarding the Innovation project, you will be happy to hear we … held our meeting to ‘articulate our output to a platform’ and we gained some immediate improvements, as a result … we have begun meeting with stakeholders about the reports we produce for them. It was a really good meeting, everyone felt excited about what we were accomplishing.”

How can your accounting/finance department drive innovation at your company?

1. Apply the above innovation principles to the services your accounting/finance department brings to your firm:

  1. Closing the books
  2. Planning – budgeting, forecasting, capitalization
  3. Investment analysis – growth, capital allocation, return criteria
  4. Banking – cash?management, refinancing, merchant accounts

2. Document the innovation process and refine it for the specific needs of your company.
3. Share the innovation process across all departments.
4. Lead the training effort required to bring different teams into the process.
5. Create a corporate-wide culture of innovation throughout your company.

The CFO mentioned above is determined to take the lead on innovation at her company. She recognizes that the 500-year-old principles accounting and finance bring to the table are steeped in discipline, planning skills and execution capabilities that directly apply to the principles of innovation.

Steve Rosvold runs KRM Business Solutions. KRM assists clients in profitable growth by delivering blue chip interim and part-time CFO services to growing businesses in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more about KRM at

{jathumbnail off}

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.