Looking back on 25 years at the forefront of a dynamic and evolving industry, two things have remained constant at FedEx: change, and the ability and willingness of our employees to embrace change on behalf of our customers.
—Fred Smith, Founder and CEO, FedEx
Innovation is not something a person or company does just once. To sustain a competitive advantage, businesses must continually innovate. Fred Smith's idea launched the company, but the business grew and became successful because it continued to innovate. Building and maintaining an innovation culture is a journey.
We all know of once hugely successful companies like Polaroid, Wang, Pan Am, Kmart, Xerox, and TWA that started with innovative products or services but are no longer around, or are a fraction of the size they once were. In today's economy, there is no such thing as a sustainable competitive advantage. The frenetic pace of technological changes, increased globalization, and relentless shifts in consumer tastes all demand that companies continually ask: “What could we be doing differently to enhance our competitive edge?” and “What could we be doing differently to serve our customers better?” This ongoing internal dialogue needs to take place at all levels of the organization, from executives who contemplate the business purpose to the front-line workers who enact the business processes.
Sometime in September 1979, I noticed an advertisement ...