CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
October 17, 2019
Forward Thinking

Supply chain leaders need to retrain their brains to innovate

CSCMP EDGE keynote speaker Jeremy Gutsche urges conference attendees to understand why they are resistant to change and adopt exercises that will help them become more open to new ideas.

The more successful you are, the harder it can be to innovate. The business world is chock full of stories of industry-leading companies that had the chance to  embrace revolutionary products or services but failed to see their potential and suffered the results. Kodak and digital photography. Blockbuster and on-demand video. IBM and the personal computer. The list is long.

The problem, according innovation expert Jeremy Gutsche, is that "everyone wants to innovate, but most people don't want to break from the proven path."

Gutsche, CEO of Trend Hunter, used an arsenal of humorous stories and personal anecdotes during the opening keynote session at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) to explore what holds companies back from innovating and what they can do to overcome these traps.

Part of the reason for the resistance to change is neurological, says Gutsche. That's because the more expertise and experience you have doing something, the more your brain becomes hardwired into thinking that's the only way to do something. It becomes harder to force yourself to break old habits and offer new products, services, or ways of doing things.

Large established companies, however, are not doomed to failure. "Innovation is not fluffy,"  Gutsche says. "It is a science. You can retrain your brain."

Some of the suggestions that Gutsche makes includes:

  • Conduct workshops where you think about potential disruptions
  • Run simulations where you think about how your company would operate if it was starting from scratch
  • Imagine a dystopian future where your company no longer exists
  • Study case studies about disruptions in other markets

While these workshops and exercises in and of themselves might not provide immediate innovations, they do help retrain participants' brains to think more creatively and be less resistant to new ideas, Gutsche says.

Gutsche concluded by urging attendees to not waste time protecting the status quo. Instead they needed to break rules, act sooner, and be curious.  



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