April 12th, 2011 → 10:26 pm @ John Seah
A U.S. multi-national corporation was in deep trouble. The recession had taken its toll and there was a desperate need to either cut cost or chop heads. The regional director of the product service center called the staff together to brainstorm cost-cutting ideas. To encourage diversity, a cross-functional team with senior and junior staff and managers was assembled.
Having delivered his opening speech, the director left the team to brainstorm and returned at 5 pm for their presentation of ideas. He was pleased that the team had generated 3000 ideas, but was extremely angry because most of the selected ideas were outrageously crazy and impractical. “Take this for example, GET FREE SPARE PARTS,” he said, reading an idea scribbled on a piece of memo pad. “Where on Earth can we get free spare parts? I am not talking about one or two pieces. To save our jobs, we need millions of dollars worth of free spare parts! Whose idea is this anyway?”
A shy junior staff raised his hand and apologized for generating such a crazy idea. Obviously there was no such thing as a free lunch or free spare parts.
18 months later, the company saved millions of dollars through the use of FREE SPARE PARTS. The crazy (or golden) idea had saved the company from retrenching its staff.
How did the team turn this “free spare parts” idea into gold?
HOW WAS THE IDEA TURNED INTO GOLD?
We know there is no such thing as a free lunch. Our mind rejects such crazy ideas automatically. What we need is a change of mindset. Instead of rejecting crazy ideas, we should ask, “How to?” By generating and exploring lots of possible ideas, the Hewlett Packard team managed to find a way to obtain free spare parts. Unbelievable but true, they found a source for millions of dollars worth of free spare parts.
Unknown to the product support team, there was another administrative team that routinely scrapped “faulty” new equipment rejected by customers. As these were customers’ rejected products and the warranty had not started yet, they were not sent to the support center for repairs. Instead, they were scrapped and thrown into dump sites and landfills.
As part of the innovation project, the team diverted the rejected equipment to the support center and salvaged millions of dollars of good spare parts from these rejected equipment.
Treat all ideas as good ideas, no matter how stupid, crazy, or weird they appear at first.
Crazy ideas can be turned into world class innovation.
Waste can be turned into gold.