Dec 9, 2021

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

How to build on a good idea and make it great

Last week we looked at product innovation where you create a new product. In this issue we deal with process innovation: no new product is delivered, but you innovate by delivering an already existing product. Jeff Bezos never wrote a book or had a publisher, but with Amazon he innovated how the book reached the publisher’s reader.

One of the good case studies of process innovation is Cable News Network (CNN). Television was already there and it was big business. What didn’t exist was a 24-hour news channel.

Founder Ted Turner said in his book Call Me Ted: and still nobody had, so I thought about starting one myself … I was so busy that I rarely saw the news on TV. In the late 1970s, most of the newscasts were only at 7pm and 11pm. I usually got home around 8 p.m. and because I got up early, I fell asleep around 10 p.m. I ended up getting most of my news from newspapers and weekly magazines thinking that my experience wasn’t unique – there had to be other people whose work hours weren’t conducive to watching the evening news. ”

The bigger one More powerful and established news channels did not see how the news-only channel would make financial sense. Like most large companies, they were so blinded by the success of the present that they could not see the opportunities of the future. Turner saw an opportunity. He was the classic insurgent. His underdog status made him work a lot harder and have a lot more success.

Overrated focus groups

Turner didn’t conduct any studies to prove the viability of a 24-hour cable news station: “I had Spent over five years thinking about it and it was time to get started.

Henry Ford didn’t need focus groups to tell him people would prefer cheap, reliable cars to horses, and so would I. doubt that Alexander Graham Bell no longer cared about whether people preferred to talk to each other on the phone. If viewers enjoy watching the news on television, why not be able to do so at any time of the day? And wouldn’t it be great to see the latest news live instead of having to wait to see it off the tape at 7 or 11 p.m. “

If Turner had only focused on what he had built, if he would still have left As a pioneer of the 24-hour news, but gone down in history in characteristic innovator fashion, he discovered “more” on a visit to Cuba. Cuban leader Fidel Castro loved CNN, but there was no signal to Cuba. Castro bought a satellite dish so he could watch CNN. He invited Turner to Cuba and a new idea was born that made CNN the world’s first global television station.

Redefining delivery

People have been writing letters and sending packages and mail for centuries the post office system was successful. But FedEx didn’t create anything new, it just helped make something that already existed more efficient.

Fred Smith founded FedEx in 1971 after receiving a bad grade on a thesis on his vision of a night delivery service. He advocated a night delivery service that uses airports at night when they are not overloaded. He was denied by his professor. He did it anyway and it was a great success.

Process innovation is the ability to redefine something that already exists and to take it to a new level. While some are looking for best practices to compare, others are busy developing new practices that others will compare. You too can create a process that makes it easier for existing models to become more efficient.

Wale Akinyemi is Convenor of Street University ( and Chief Transformation Officer of PowerTalks; [emailprotected]