Tara had just finished visiting with her largest customer, a network of 13 hospitals in her county. She had met with many people that day, but one meeting in particular had stood out. She had met with Dr. George Freeman, chief of surgery, who explained the problem they were having with their aging set of surgical instruments. Dr. Freeman explained that they have the budget and are prepared to buy new sets, but they have one major reservation with the ones that Tara’s company makes. They are uncomfortable for left-handed surgeons, and George happens to be left-handed. He goes on to explain that without something different, the sale will go to Tara’s competitor.
Tara knows that this is a major problem. This hospital system is a major customer and purchases millions of dollars of products from her company. Letting her competitor get an advantage like this could be devastating. Tara takes her problem to her supervisor.
Tara works in the marketing department and presents her issue to the group. She explains Dr. Freeman’s problem, and how they’ll lose the sale without a change. Tara champions a suggestion made by Dr. Freeman, which simply involved moving the finger clasp about 20 degrees off center. Tara is familiar with her company’s manufacturing capabilities and realizes that although this is a significant change, they can (and have) made this accommodation in the past. After they talk with a few others in marketing, they realize that this is their only chance to make the sale, and take their issue to the engineering department.
A few days later, a meeting is scheduled with engineering, and they make their presentation. The engineering group has assembled their senior engineers, and they’re joined by the company’s controller and manufacturing VP. Tara prepared slides outlining the issue, and she documents how sales will likely increase substantially as a result. No one else has instruments with this capability. Engineering spends a few days and designs a new set of instruments, noting that the clasp should only be moved 19 degrees off center. Preliminary mock-ups prove the point, and the change to manufacturing is estimated at $850k (a fraction of what the potential sales will be). Finance approves the money and the project is started.
Tara’s company is responsive, voice-of-the-customer oriented, and innovative. They addressed the need of a major customer, secured new sales revenue, and improved their product. But did they really do the best that they could?
Tara’s company has repeated the missteps of many organizations. They answered the question for an important sale, but they really didn’t innovate. Find out how using MindMatters’ processes and the Innovator™ software system can make supercharge your organization. Click here to request a copy.