That's Business Baby

Innovation with Mr. Papini

Alessandro Papini is a seasoned expert with a lot of knowledge who has held key executive roles in well-known firms around the world.

Alessandro Papini is a seasoned expert with a lot of knowledge who has held key executive roles in well-known firms around the world. He currently works as a senior consultant for corporate management and company development. His knowledge includes textiles, apparel, luxury products, retail and wholesale, interior design, merchandising, and marketing. He will have a regular column on Moontide where he empirically discusses various facets of corporate life.

He discusses creativity and his role as an inventor with us in this issue.

Can we say that you are the one that infuses businesses with innovation?
Absolutely, yeah. My role is bringing innovation.

What does "corporate structural innovation" mean to you, and how does it help businesses become more productive and competitive?
A crucial idea for business success is innovation. You hear it frequently: "That company is doing well because it innovated at the right time." In part, this "judgment" is accurate and succinct: innovation is a perennial and all-encompassing idea. To innovate is to bring fresh ideas, approaches, and resources to the workplace. People in organizations frequently solely concentrate on the latter aspect, trying to introduce and deploy new tools that are useless if they are not connected to or integrated with the business reality. Sadly, the corporate world frequently undervalues ideas and techniques, whose accuracy and execution determine the true success of the business itself. A closer look reveals that new tools do nothing more than strengthen the sensible theories and practices already existent in the corporate environment. In this regard, I frequently find myself speaking with business owners about e-commerce, which some people view as a cure-all. E-commerce is vital from both a commercial and a branding standpoint, but it only succeeds in both cases if the company has a real competitive advantage in the market as well as a clear and logical market positioning. If innovation is viewed in this way (new ideas, approaches, and tools), it unquestionably has a structural character because it affects the entire organization's structure and all of its departments, all of which must work together to ensure efficiency, which is related to costs, and effectiveness, which is more closely related to output. Thus, the competitiveness that results is clear. However, it is also understandable that innovation frequently serves a much more significant purpose in some circumstances, which is to rebalance the overall production environment.

Could you provide some examples of how your intervention has resulted in major and good changes inside a company based on your job experience? What were the goals and what outcomes were attained?
I enjoy giving a recent example that I later used in practically all of the company sectors I have worked in. It is still incredibly true and simple to understand, but not so simple to put into practice. In actuality, this example relates to the product offering, which includes both quantity and quality, and is referred to as the "heart" of the business. This intervention was truly structural since it affected the organization's structure and because it was so effective that it resulted in a new method of conducting business. Specifically, through cooperation between strategic marketing, operational marketing, production, and sales, the company's product offering assumed a distinctively structured form. The outcomes obtained with the use of IT were impressive. In addition to improving performance (product-centered, innovative; effectiveness > output), the sales team also significantly decreased expenses (efficiency > input) as a result of shortened deadlines for prototyping, the creation of physical samples, and varied manufacturing unit timelines. We've reached the "design to cost" phase in terms of process and culture, which entails knowing exactly what to do, how to execute it, and how much it should cost.

What are the major barriers that businesses must overcome in order to execute innovation, and how can these problems be solved?
The culture of the entrepreneur and the organization in which they are asked to work or want to function is the biggest barrier to innovation.

It's strange but true that in our country, whether it's a large industry or a SME, in the industries where I've worked and still work (design, luxury, and fashion), there are a variety of reasons, and the vast majority of them are subjective: superficiality, distrust, cultural level, fear, jealousy, balance, and frequently familial. Common criticisms include "But we already do this in our company...", "Easy to say, but...", and "This doesn't work for us, our company is unique..."

Always keep in mind the following two points: 1. The business is independent. 2. Companies may have conventional products and operations, but they all function in the same way. Rarely did I encounter unbiased justifications. How do you get beyond these obstacles? primarily through debate and the presentation of thorough work plans with goals, deadlines, and budgets.

What signs should a business pay attention to in order to determine whether it's time to undertake big structural changes?
In this regard, there are clear and audible signals. The so-called Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which should be taken into account both for the context of the entire company and for each specific function, should always be monitored and responded to by entrepreneurs. The scope should be further widened to take into account market trends, the top rivals, and even the general atmosphere in order to get the right picture. The interaction of these factors invariably prompts reflections that frequently result in important structural changes, such as novel product, communication, or sourcing policies.

Do any industries or business kinds exist where innovation is very beneficial? What distinguishing qualities exist in these situations?
In other industries, like medical technology, innovation is unquestionably more beneficial. There are other industries, like furniture, lighting, and bathroom fixtures, where innovation is not only beneficial but also essential. Due to a lack of resources, including cultural resources, businesses in this industry, particularly those in our region, frequently experience irreparable decline. I frequently find myself talking about issues that are crucial for both sound business management and the financial statement. This indicates that other sectors' particular reasoning and tools have not yet advanced.

Innovation is essential, even in industries like luxury and fashion that we now regard as innovation-mature. We haven't yet reached pre-COVID levels in this industry in the post-COVID era, and many businesses are struggling as a result of recently difficult times and the slow pace of outcomes. Waiting in these situations is worse than acting. Action today also entails innovation. We have moved from a time when brands were frequently known for a particular product to a time when everyone engages in everything across all market categories for image reasons (whole appearance = lifestyle = highly relevant and powerful). Is it right to carry on in this manner? If so, can the situation be changed in any way

How is innovation usually assessed within a business? What measurements are employed to evaluate outcomes?
It depends on the context in which innovation is used. measurements are nearly always quantitative in some industries, whereas qualitative measurements are employed in others. The most accurate method is typically one that combines both. Here is an illustration of this idea. Until recently, it was nearly sacrilegious to use e-commerce to sell "considered purchase" things like expensive items. However, there has been a huge internet surge even for these kinds of products recently, in large part as a result of the epidemic. For instance, there are chandeliers available on numerous web platforms that cost more than 100,000 euros. Now, if we were to only consider sales figures and subsequently employ only quantitative measurements, we would probably only have a partial understanding of what was taking place. Quantitative measures should be combined with qualitative metrics that cover the entire process.

What pointers or counsel would you offer to a business thinking about starting an innovation process?
Although the query is legitimate, it should be rephrased. Given the speed of today's world, I would ask myself, "Am I innovating?" if I were a business. Or, more specifically, "Am I developing enough? Is there anything on which I should be concentrating my efforts?” And yet, the nature of any firm nowadays is extremely specialized and continuously changing. Always listening to individuals who bring innovation with a case-specific, highly scientific approach is a good habit to get into. A medium- to long-term vision and a cost-benefit analysis should always be the focus. There isn't anyone in the company who can miraculously produce a white rabbit out of a hat now, and perhaps there never was.