Innovation- A Way For Sustainability
If we are too afraid of taking risks, we may miss out on opportunities to innovate and grow. By playing it safe and attempting to insure our finances, we lose our cutting edge.
“I think you are making a mess over there in your mills! It seems you are wasting your time and money in the name of innovations, and frankly, I am not happy about that!”
With these words, my boss fixed me with an intense gaze over the rim of his spectacles. While his face remained stoic, his words were sharp enough to sting like thorns.
The room stayed quiet; the air was heavy with doubt! I could even hear the buzzing sound of fluorescent lamps. I was there to explain my new proposal to our top management team.
I cleared my throat and broke the silence.
“But, Sir, we’re not incurring any losses, as you’re aware,” I responded hesitantly.
Off came the reply immediately from my boss, a little harsher than before. “Whoa! Who gave you the authority to determine profit? Your returns don’t measure up to other mills in our industry,” he growled, raising his voice.
Despite his initial resistance, he lent his listening ears to know more about the proposal. I know he was very fond of innovations. The apparent anger he displayed during the discussion with the higher-ups was merely a façade.
Finally, I got the approval.
The project aimed to meet our customer’s demand for producing low-density yarns. Specifically, the customer sought to replace their existing yarns used in pile fabrics for Parkas and also for lightweight jeans.
After obtaining approval, a technical representative from the customer and our team collaborated to devise methods for producing the required low-density yarns.
The customer had experience in producing such yarns with wool but lacked knowledge about cotton spinning.
As per our conclusion, we needed some modifications in our present core-yarn system. The core yarn system supplier was kind enough to make some modifications to their software. (It’s worth noting here that though the machinery supplier helped us in providing the required changes in their software, they were not privy to how those alterations functioned on the machine due to the project’s classified nature).
The changes in core-yarn attachment, coupled with the use of a special front top roller featuring horizontal grooves at equal intervals, allowed us to create cotton core spun yarn with either nylon filament or another cotton yarn as the core.
After these modifications, we successfully achieved the desired yarn density of approximately 0.25 to 0.30 gms/cm3 (D in UT4). Our regular single yarns typically had a density of around 0.6 and could go up to 0.75 with the use of a compact system.
Ultimately, the project was a resounding success, resulting in garments that were 30% lighter. Profits saw a substantial increase in the subsequent years, making it a win-win situation for all stakeholders.
These garments only consumed 30% less material compared to their counterparts due to the use of yarns which are around 30% finer than existing ones but have the same bulkiness. Also, they boasted a timeless fashion and durability that could be passed down through generations.
In a later financial meeting, my boss, wearing a smile, remarked, “Well, it turns out you’re making quite a positive mess!”
Innovation is not as scary as we think:
In today’s competitive dynamic world, it is not uncommon to have the following demands from the top management!
“Bring in breakthrough ideas!”
“What’s your next disruptive suggestion?”
Unfortunately, these are included in the KPAs of the staff, which makes them still scarier.
The fear of criticism, uncertainty and negative impact on one’s career can paralyze innovation. It is to be noted that innovation is not just about finding a new bright idea, but it is also about being passionate about what we do and finding ways to do continuous, aggressive improvement on it.
Yes, people must innovate by discovering some new concepts, just as described above.
Ultimate innovation is achieved through people in the organization who push themselves relentlessly to take the existing products to the next level.
It is a continuous process and new ideas are to be celebrated and awarded carefully to nurture the best practices in an organization.
Either a company may make this a way of life throughout the organization, or just sit and wave at other successful competitors, lamenting.
(Murugan Santhanam is the author of this article. He is the Managing Director of Texdoc Online Solution Pvt. Ltd.)