Borrow from another industry
This article first appeared August 2, 2011.
If you have ever spent time in hospital, you may have thought about the incredible logistical effort required to keep an operation like that running smoothly.
A hospital has to mix mass-market services (food, linen, cleaning) with tailored, specific services (health care).
It has to be able to manage people working in specific disciplines (say, oncology services) with people working across disciplines (such as emergency).
And it has to be able to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
What does this have to do with business, I hear you ask.
Studying industries other than your own is a great way to spot new ideas that can help you get an edge on the competition. It doesn’t need to be specific ideas, just concepts are often enough to spark innovation.
For example, take the hospital concept of service and apply it to your business. If you currently tailor all products for every customer, think about whether there are bits that could be standardised (and therefore made cheaper and easier to deliver) like the food, cleaning and linen in a hospital. You could then deliver the tailored product on top of that.
Other great industries to study include manufacturing and even mining, where production processes have been refined over times and operating procedures are standardised (such as “Just in Time” and “Continuous Improvement” in manufacturing).
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