Industrial distribution is always changing, but creative solutions to complex challenges can gain an edge in winning business. In fact, a survey of executives showed that 84% of them believe innovation is important to growth strategy,1 but 22% said their innovation was hampered by a lack of great ideas.2
Roadmap to Creative Solutions
Forward-thinking industrial distribution professionals can use a 5-step creative problem-solving process:
- Identify opportunities to meet customer needs
- Create concept hypothesis
- Collect relevant data
- Develop a prototype
- Implement innovation
Creative Solutions in Action
What does this look like in the field? When the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport needed to replace its lighting system, two suppliers were asked to bid on the project. Supplier A took the expected route, providing a competitively priced package proposal. Supplier B took a different approach, meeting with high-level airline executives to ask about common issues that cause flight delays.
Executives identified the following problem: finding wheelchairs for some passengers caused de-boarding delays. Supplier B offered a solution: adding RFID chips on every wheelchair, monitored through the lighting system and accessed by a cellphone app to direct attendants to the nearest wheelchair. Supplier B won the lighting contract by presenting an innovative solution.
Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s Distribution Executives
A business degree focuses on essential management skills such as building a creative workspace and a culture of innovation. A focus in industrial distribution can help students understand the supply chain, so they can develop ideas into products, assess product concepts, and implement solutions.
Without the right leadership and company culture, innovation is a struggle. 31% of companies say a risk-averse company culture is a major obstacle to innovation.2 To learn more about how a business degree can help you outpace your competitors and build creative distribution solutions, review the below infographic created by UAB Collat School of Business online: