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The era of necessary innovation

Headshot of C. James Carr, President & CEO of Produce Blue Book.

I have been communicating with a few industry leaders about their take on what is happening within the industry, their particular space in the industry, and the businesses they own or control.

The leaders are understandably concerned about the virus and its impact on their employees and livelihoods. In some cases, to keep expenses in check, employees have been furloughed or let go.

In attempting to keep their doors open, industry leaders have been forced to make changes to their businesses, often on the fly and without the luxury of planning and testing beforehand.

Such is the status of today’s uncertain marketplace—let’s try something, hoping it will work. If it doesn’t, we will try something else. One industry leader termed this approach as “necessary innovation.”

What will the state of the marketplace be when the virus subsides? Will the abrupt changes made by the leaders continue or will operations revert to the old days (all of eight weeks ago)?

Four watch words have been mentioned more often than any others: efficiency, effectiveness, convenience, and price.

Clearly, efficiency will come from the past several weeks. As in prior downsizings, companies discover they often have too many people doing jobs that may not be necessary in the long-term. The same outcome will apply going forward. Efficiencies in operations are always good things. It creates less expense per person and often times creates new employment opportunities.

Effectiveness is a word that means something good was accomplished. It says that we made changes and they worked. Even more than being efficient, businesses need to be effective.

Convenience is now even more important. This may mean to some that I want something the way I want it, like drive through windows or ATMs, but it can also mean the ability to get my important work done in ways that do not require me to get on airplane; I can accomplish the same results. It is more convenient getting things done.

And, of course, price is in the business equation. All businesses strive to remove as many costs as possible from their processes to be more competitive. This is an age-old mantra that businesses follow. The idea is to create favorable pricing margins: if the margins can be widened by reducing expense inputs, vs. raising prices, everyone wins.

The changes, which have been implemented the past few weeks, will likely be more permanent than temporary.

Stay tuned. Share your thoughts on what you expect to happen.


Jim Carr is the President and CEO of Blue Book Services Inc.