Innovation schminovation

The open board meeting opens with a passionate proclamation, “This year, you are to focus on innovation.” If only someone had the balls to stand up and ask, “OK, could you tell me more about that?”

Where are C-level executives getting this stuff? When you walk out of the meeting, do you shake your head and get back to getting ‘r done? Unfortunately, many well intentioned executives have no idea how to convert philosophy to real actions and communicate them to the enterprise. A great proclamation ain’t gonna get it, folks.

The downside, of course, is that most operations folks miss the message entirely. It’s really not all that complicated. There is an ongoing shift in most industries from standardized, commoditized products to specialized, customized offerings. This trend is particularly powerful in North America where it is becoming impossible to remain competitive with commodities. There are too many companies around the world who can make that stuff cheaper than will ever be possible again in the US.

So, what to do? Come up with unique offerings that solve more customized problems and can therefore command higher profit margins. That’d be my preferred solution anyway. Great, what’s that got to do with upfront CAE?

Everything! You are going to be increasing the # of new products designed yearly. You are also delivering them in shorter design cycles than afforded traditional commodity products that sit on the market shelves for decades. R&D baby! Time to let your engineers be engineers again… no more slogging through paperwork for 8 hours of truly fulfilling daily work!

My point is this: Upfront CFD & FEA initiatives are direct actions that you can take today, without the need to hire additional staff, with huge available ROI to directly support the “be innovative” mandate. Don’t think, don’t philosophize… just get to the doing!