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Ideality As A North Star For Innovation

By Expert Author: Jayden Smith

Let us consider an ideal business scenario in which an organization is able to make millions of dollars of money without investing a single dollar of its own money. Does that kind of ROI sound ridiculously impossible to achieve?
For Ponzi scheme operators it is the usual way of doing business. The malafide intent of the operator is to rake in millions of dollars without investing a single dollar of his money.
But how can organizations benefit from Ideal scenario thinking?
Ideal Scenario thinking can be conceptually expressed by the mathematical equation depicted in figure.
The state of most Ideal condition or Perfection is when we are able to obtain all the useful features and benefits without incurring ANY cost or harm associated with the current way of performing work.
From the ROI perspective we would like to maximize return with minimum or zero investment.
Organizations are leveraging this concept of ideality to make their business processes more efficient and dynamic.
Toyota uses this concept as a north star to define the roadmap for process improvement or product evolution (refer image).
The first step is to define the state of perfect service delivery to the customer. The next step is to review the current situation and ask the question: “What stops us from reaching the state of perfection?”
The identified barriers are to be systematically eradicated in the subsequent journey of improvement called Kaizen.
Ideal scenario thinking is one of the core skills identified within TRIZ (Russian acronym for Theory of Inventive Problem Solving). Many organizations such as Intel, GE, P&G, Samsung, Hyundai, Pepsico, Cognizant and similar others have successfully applied the concepts to create a systematic framework for innovation management in product development as well as operational excellence.

One of the well known examples of ideal scenario thinking is self-help service as applied by organizations such as McDonald’s, Dell and similar other companies. These organizations make use of the most readily available resource, their customer, to perform the tasks that would have otherwise required managing an entire layer of trained customer service staff. The reduced cost of managing complex operations can be passed on to the customer in terms of lower prices.
• Fast-food restaurants provide self-service for placing orders and serving food to customers, Hotels provide self-help check in facilities and so also airlines.
• Banks offer ATM machines, internet banking as a self-help service to manage accounts and financial transactions.
• The medical and healthcare industry provides consumers with access to elementary level medical tests with self-diagnostic medical instruments, exercise machines to maintain fitness levels, nutrition advice to maintain good dietary habits.
• Paint companies offer customers the choice of creating their own color, cycle manufacturers offer the customers the choice of custom designing their cycles and apparel manufacturers offer custom designed clothes including daily wear items such as jeans.
The important point to note in all the above examples is that the customers are providing the readily available resource to replace the alternative resource of expensive staff. However for self-service to work, the service delivery environment has to be made conducive for customers with no formal training being able to manage themselves.
Ideal scenario thinking serves as a north start to guide the thinking of management while designing processes or in reviewing solutions for process improvement. It helps break the psychological inertia associated with incremental improvements and weeds out ideas that add complexity in the path to achieving benefits.

Author Details

Aditya Bhalla is Innovation Practice Head at QAI Global Services and President of TRIZ Asia Forum.. He can be contacted at adityabhalla@yahoo.com. Also for more info about TRIZ Training & PMP Training etc Visit us at:- www.qaiglobalinstitute.com

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