What does a person, who works for a supermarket, do when he or she has an idea?

At an interesting event a few weeks ago about the future of retail, I learned about some of the effects that digitization has on, for example, supermarkets. I was somewhat surprised to hear that when a person, who works for a Migros supermarket, has an idea, he or she goes to the store manager and communicates the idea to him or her. The store manager then decides what is going to happen with that idea. Being curious about how such an  innovation process works at COOP, I asked a person, who works for a COOP retail store. I was told that this particular innovation process works more or less in a similar way. When a person, who works for a certain COOP supermarket, has an idea, he or he communicates the idea to the store manager. The store manager then decides what is going to happen with that idea.

Reflecting on what I learned during the events mentioned above and reflecting on aspects related to retail innovation. two strategic dilemmas come into my mind: The strategic dilemma efficiency vs. creativity and the strategic dilemma planning vs. testing / trying ideas out.

Regarding the strategic dilemma efficiency vs. creativity, I understood that supermarket chains have a relatively strong focus on efficiency. For example, I learned that people, who work for a COOP supermarket on a certain day, meet for 5 minutes in the morning to bring up whatever they have on their mind, for example ideas to improve things. I understood that, for various reasons such as the focus being a lot more on eficiency than on creativity, few ideas are brought forward.  At this event I learned that at Migros things work somewhat similarly. Although anyone can communicate ideas through Migipedia and/or other social media, I understood that, traditionally, people often follow the hierarchical way when they have a wish to change things. And as the focus is a lot more on efficiency than on creativity, few ideas are brought forward.

When it comes to the strategic dilemma planning vs. testing / trying ideas out, I learned that supermarket chains have a relatively strong focus on planning. Also, I learned that most planning is mostly done centrally. And people, who work for a certain supermarket, hardly test / try out ideas they have, for example ideas that they think could improve the experience for people who use that particular retail store. Instead, they follow plans developed centrally.

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Virtual innovation summit

I look forward to participate in the virtual innovation summit later this month. It was through Paul Hobcraft that I learned about the crowdsourced virtual innovation summit, an event co-created by corporate innovators for corporate innovators.

Upon signing up to participate at the event, I immediately received a message with these two questions: What question do you want answers to? What challenge do you want to solve? Finding it innovative that organizers make the event demand-oriented and people centered by involving / asking questions to participants – and thereby helping participants find the right co-creation sessions – I went straight into creative thinking mode. Reflecting on interests / needs / goals, I have, I came to think of these 7 questions:

  1. How do we innovate democracies in countries around the world? In this regard, how can democracies in different countries get better at involving / including as many people as possible – including people who do not physically live in the country but simply love the country? It was not least due to this highly valuable event series about digital democracy that I came to think of this question.
  2. How do companies get better at involving anyone, who is interested in working for the purpose of respective companies and would like to participate in developing and testing ideas? In this regard, what do companies need help with to open up more / include people more / involve people more? How can we make more open organizations come to life, for example using digital platforms, social media and great moderation techniques?
  3. Which cities around the world are the best at involving people to develop, communicate and try out ideas? What do people, who work for these cities, do – both on the Internet and in various physical locations – to involve / include people in innovation work?
  4. How do people, who live with with a partner / in a relationship, go about innovating how they live together? What useful tools / methods can they use to increase the quality of life?
  5. At #DigitalDay I look forward to participating in a brainstorming about health / healthcare. Preparing for the brainstorming challenge, these are the ideas I came to think of. I would love to learn about other great ideas that people have to innovate healthcare. What ideas do you have?
  6. Reading the book Wonder I read on page 73 that Auggie wishes that everyday would be Halloween. Then we could walk around and get to know each other before we got to see what we looked liked under the masks. In this regard, my questions to you are these: To what extent can meetings / events, where people cannot see each other’s faces live, help people to get to know each other better – compared with meetings / events where people can see each other live? Why? How?
  7. What rules in the game of tennis would it make sense to change to create more value for both players and fans?

Listening tips

In the video below, you will find 3 listening tips. To learn more about listening, have a look also at this research on listening. When you think about what is important in order to listen well, what do you think is missing?