Innovation Tip: Look Beyond the Data

11 November 10

Look at any industry that has been disrupted over the last half-century, and you’ll discover foretelling data in the years prior to the disruption. In the early part of this millennium, the USPS saw a declining growth rate of the volume of mail it delivered despite steady revenue. The same is true for the music industry as sales of compact discs remained steady in the late ‘90s. The music and postal industry giants made the mistake of being complacent because signs of growth were still evident, even as their disruptors, digital music and communications, were gaining steam.

So ask yourself: how is your organization reviewing and analyzing data? All the metrics you track may look healthy, but remember that your metrics aren’t the only data outputs to pay attention to. Think about what’s happening outside your organization. What companies are growing faster than yours? What are these companies doing differently? What are they doing better? How could they transform your industry 5 years from now? Make it a point to sit down with your team on a regular basis to take stock of your industry, its players, and upstarts in adjacent industries as well. The wider you look, the more you stand to learn.

It’s better to push your boundaries and widen your field of vision now than it is to be sitting on the sidelines five to ten years from now.


USPS: Technically Green

21 March 08

futurethink USPS recycle The United States Postal Service (USPS) and Clover Technologies Group announced a new “Mail Back” program. Through the program, customers use free envelopes found in 1,500 Post Offices to mail back inkjet cartridges, PDAs, Blackberries, digital cameras, iPods, and MP3 players – without having to pay for postage.

Clover Technologies pays the postage fees, and receives all the items sent through the program. The company then recycles, remanufactures and remarkets inkjet cartridges, laser cartridges and small electronics. If the electronic item or cartridges cannot be refurbished and resold, its component parts are reused to refurbish other items, or the parts are broken down further and the materials are recycled. Clover has a “zero waste to landfill” policy, meaning it takes everything possible to avoid sending things to landfills.

The program is a brilliant example of how public agencies can, in fact, partner with private companies for a mutual benefit. This is also a huge boon for consumers who have abandoned, old electronics lying around the house. Read the press release for more information.


22 February 08

futurethink ecoenvelopesOn February 20th, the United States Postal Service (USPS) approved ecoEnvelopes for use. The envelopes, printed on 100% recycled paper, are designed to be used twice – as both the send and return envelope. By eliminating the need for reply envelopes, ecoEnvelopes helps businesses and organizations meet their social, environmental and marketing objectives. “Using one envelope is simply more efficient and less wasteful than two, and you send the right message with a reusable envelope,” said founder and CEO Ann DeLaVergne, a former organic farmer and beekeeper who created the first ecoEnvelopes by hand in her kitchen as a way to reduce waste. More than 80 billion reply envelopes are sent through the US mail each year.

This is incredibly simple, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that type idea that’s good for businesses, good for consumers, and good for the environment. Learn more at ecoEnvelopes.