Finding the ‘meaning’ in manufacturing

Possibly one of the most overused words in the business world. But whatever
your personal response to the word, there is no doubt that it is an important
word and the key to future success.

In the
context of reinvigorating Australian manufacturing, innovation is about
understanding meaning. It’s about understanding why consumers want something
before designing the product or service to deliver the desired
experience. Innovation needs to be customer driven with design following

The current
state of play is incremental innovation. Think of incremental innovation as
cost cutting or feature improvements in existing products or
services (Leifer, 2000). Given the challenges facing Australian
manufacturers, we may argue that the time is for right for a fresh approach.
Moving away from product innovation to focus on meaning as the basis for
innovation has the potential to triple current business performance.

Nespresso story perfectly demonstrates the concept of delivering to what
consumers want. It began with a simple but revolutionary idea that would enable
anyone to create the barista experience, on their own, at home.

To deliver
what Nespresso calls the “ultimate coffee experience”, the brands strategy
brand’s growth strategy involves three main components: premium coffee
capsules, “mated” with specially designed machines, and accompanied by
exceptional customer service through the Nespresso Club. For its consumers,
members of the Nespresso Club, the capsules and machines guarantee perfect
espresso coffee every time, within seconds and with minimum effort. In its 2015 three-month sales report Nestle reports that Nespresso continued to grow well in a competitive market, leveraging its constant
innovation and renovation in machines, in services and its range of super-
premium coffees. It also continued to expand internationally.

A further
case to support taking the innovation lead from the customer is WhatsApp. The
organisation’s goal: to make communication easy and affordable. February 2014,
Facebook purchases WhatsApp. Just days later WhatsApp announces that it will
offer voice calls to its 465 million users around the world – a move that could
help wipe hundreds of billions of dollars from the revenues of mobile carries
it the next five years, say analysts.

How do
manufacturers adapt their business models to keep pace with a rapidly changing
world full of technologically driven disruptive forces?

innovation in Australian manufacturing will require manufacturers to look at
their world through a different lens – to question and reframe the ‘way things
are done’ – to determine what is off the agenda. For example, if closure is off
the agenda, that substantially alters perspectives and provides a platform to
find new ways of ‘doing business’.

And it
all begins with meaning. Understanding meaning is the catalyst for innovation.
Innovation unlocks opportunity. So let’s go and find meaning.

Tim Plenderleith will be
speaking at National Manufacturing Week on the topic, “Is the steady
decline of the Australian manufacturing sector inevitable and

details, visit

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