CHAPTER EIGHT

INNOVATION IN DEMANDING TIMES

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Insight Is a Transformational Truth of Innovation

EVERY MORNING I DRIVE TO WORK IN DOWNTOWN TORONTO from a small suburb just north of the city. During this drive, I often find myself behind a cluster of UPS trucks starting their morning runs. Over time, I have noticed that these trucks rarely drive in the left lane on their route into the city.

I always thought that this was a UPS policy and its drivers were making a thoughtful and considerate effort not to interfere with the local morning traffic flow. That certainly seemed to be a logical assumption, and I saw it as a smart policy from a very visible street-level brand.

However, I recently read an article on how UPS drivers’ routes are programmed to avoid left turns and how this simple innovation increased their efficiency even when driving greater distances. The results are impressive:

  • Since 2004, UPS has saved an estimated 10 million gallons of gas.
  • Carbon emissions have been reduced by 100,000 metric tons—that's the equivalent of taking 5,300 cars off the road for an entire year!

Years ago, UPS realized that more traffic meant more time consumed driving, and more time consumed driving meant packages would be delivered later. This insight led UPS's innovation team to develop route-optimization plans to increase efficiency, reduce fuel consumption, and get drivers back to their centers ...

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