Seed World

Innovation Requires Risk. Here’s how to Manage it


Mark is a farm boy from Treherne, Man., and went to the University of Manitoba where he obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business. He’s served as Nexeed president for 11 years, during which time he’s marvelled at the pace of technological change in seed processing equipment.

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Innovation is one of those buzzwords that gets used a lot. To me, innovating is like breathing. We do it all the time in the business world. It’s innovate or die, really.

But innovating comes with risk, and a lot of people feel the pain of that risk when they embark on the innovation path. The key is to work with a partner who knows where the pitfalls are and can help you manage — if not eliminate — much of the inherent risk that comes with purchasing new processing equipment or building a new plant.

After years in this business, our company has honed and refined our practices so that we know where the pain points are for customers and can help them answer some big questions. We’ve learned some key strategies to help ensure customer success when embarking on the innovation path.

Anticipate the customer’s needs. When they begin a new construction project, what are the big pieces they’re going to require? In what specific areas should they seek assistance? How do they improve those areas? How can they change their facility so that its output changes in a desired way?

Take the guesswork out. Many things that I have seen people do many times over are often viewed as an innovation by the individual customer and can seem daunting to them, when it’s actually a very safe change to make. We help guide them, so they don’t have to guess what’s going to work.

Learn along the way. Helping someone with their innovative project requires a lot of learning on our part — little tiny pickups of knowledge that allow us to help people avoid mistakes, even minor ones that might not prevent a machine from functioning, but might reduce its useful life by a significant amount of time in the end. Install a machine wrong, and it could last only four years instead of 15. That’s one example of how experience matters.

Don’t assume anything. We never assume customers know all the details — our job is to make sure they do, so the job is done right. We never assume that we know everything, either. We all know what happens when we “assume” something, do we not?

Innovating is simply about doing something new. Work with a partner who knows what you’re trying to do and your path to success will be a lot smoother — and lower risk.