Impact is the Key Word
Have you ever thought about the thin line between problem solving and innovation? One tends to lead to the other, so in the end, the idea of disruptive technology isn’t so disruptive at all. It’s a tool of innovation, which is the engine used to make an impact in the business world.
Impact is the key word.
I was engaged recently in an ideas forum hosted by The Economist at UC Berkeley. Our moderator, Martin Giles, US technology correspondent for The Economist, came up with an intriguing way to consider innovation – which was to perceive it as being generated three ways:
- Innovation as a response to customers’ needs
- Innovation for a company that changes an industry
- Innovation as a partnership
One of many examples in response to customers’ needs is FedEx Electronic Trade Documents which automates documents for custom clearance so paperwork can be worked on while a flight is in progress. For innovation that will inevitably revolutionize a whole industry are the bold new advances FedEx supports in the creation of alternative jet fuel. The third one, which is innovation from a partnership, could be the development of the multi-platform monitoring system of SenseAware.
But there was one aspect missing: Innovation as a stroke of brilliance that changes the world just by connecting its inhabitants. The telephone was one of those, as was radio, even more so than television, and more recently, the internet.
Also, forty years ago, our chairman, Fred Smith had an idea to fill the sky from midnight to dawn with cargo flights delivering 186 packages a night – and now 9 million a night – and the concept of long distance overnight delivery was born. It changed the world by connecting its inhabitants. Now, that’s innovation.
Happy Anniversary, FedEx. I am very proud to work here.