3 Ingredients for Innovation: Story of the Barcode


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I recently had the opportunity to present the opening thought at a Board Meeting for a non-profit organization. In preparation, I drew inspiration from an article about an innovative new program this organization developed five years ago in answer to a desperate need in the community. I was so impressed with the thinking…and frankly a bit envious of the pioneering spirit that led to such an amazing program. So I did some research on Innovation to determine if I could see how to elevate its use in my business.

Innovation is generally defined as:

  • the introduction of something new
  • a new idea, method, or device

barcodeMany great innovations have come from the simplest ideas. But those best few are those that we don’t see or recognize as innovation anymore; they’re so successful, they are invisible. Without them, we couldn’t imagine how the world would function. So in the spirit of innovation, I give you the barcode, an amazing and ubiquitous invention that was profiled recently in an article entitled How the Bar Code Took Over the World in Businessweek.

Having an innovative idea (in and of itself) does not ensure success. The barcode gained world dominance because of these three key ingredients:

  1. A simplicity and reliability that overcomes habit: You could also add repeatability here. Much like the non-profit program, true innovation necessitates success. And often doesn’t come on the first try. A lot of work went into making the barcode a simple, reliable tool for communicating product information.
  2. Standards: That are adopted, formalized and broadly used. The barcode standard—UPC—was established by a consortium that was invested in success.
  3. Promotion: For people to adopt, they must know it exists. And they must want it or be a part of it. Without a strong seed of the barcode in the market, Walmart would not be the efficient distributor/retailer of products that it is. Social and workd-of-mouth (WOM) in many cases have helped propel innovative products and ideas.

It’s wonderful to belong to this nonprofit organization that has been at the fore of innovative programs that make a difference in the community. I look forward to watching that organization—as well as my own—flourish under the seeds of innovation.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek
Michelle BB brings almost 20 years of technology marketing and marketing services experience to Quaero as the Executive VP of Sales & Marketing. She channels her experience as a consultant into the role of chief evangelist, helping companies understand how to make their data work for them, not against them. Michelle earned her Master's degree from Simmons College.


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