Colin here. It’s a wonderful thing to work in a creative culture, where problem-solving through new and novel ideas is prized. But not every company works that way, and sometimes the out-there idea can be a tough sell to those concerned with implantation and optimization.
The Dutch bike company Vanmoof offers a masterclass on how a dose of creative thinking solved a logistics and customer service dilemma. Clarity of thought and novelty solved a monster business problem for them.
The company makes smartly designed e-bikes that need to be shipped to customers. Many of these bikes were being delivered damaged, setting off a chain of complicated and costly after-effects throughout their entire business. To solve the issue, they turned to a brilliant solution.
The team redesigned their delivery boxes to look exactly like a television: an item that is essential to American households and that every delivery person knows the drill on how to delicately handle.
And that was it. The lightbulb moment. Our co-founder Ties Carlier’s simple idea. Our boxes are about the same size as a really big, expensive, flat-screen television. So we put an image of one on every box. We assumed handlers would care a little more about that. And we were right.
That small tweak had an outsized impact. Overnight our shipping damages dropped by 70-80%. We sell 80% of our bicycles online, which means we still print TVs on our boxes. More than 60,000 of them have now been shipped directly to our riders worldwide.
Why is this interesting?
This was as simple as an idea. It didn’t come with any extra costs other than a redesign to the exterior of the bike boxes. There was no costly supply chain intervention. And their damage dropped by 80 percent. It was a simple insight and quick execution that saved the day. And it stands to me why the values of creativity and contrarianism always need a seat at the table when trying to solve chunky business problems. And also cultures that are ready to welcome and nurture such ideas as they are gestating. It is a special company that can balance both the poetry of creativity and the crisp, precise rudiments of great operations. (CJN)
Thanks for reading,
Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN)
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Maddening. People will throw bikes all over and not give a damn, but make something look like a big fancy expensive television and all the sudden it's the most precious cargo ever. I know it may be unhelpful from a communications perspective to say this, but: Bikes are good! Giant TVs are bad!
This article inspired me to look for better solutions for my students from a resource standpoint. "How can I improve operations and performance within my classroom without overextending my energetic resources?" It's always tempting as a teacher, when students don't perform well, to harangue, beg, lecture, and so on. That means expending my energy beyond capacity and causing my students to feel frustrated and overwhelmed, not motivated to improve. Most of the time what students really need is to know you value them and believe in them. Turns out it takes way less energy to open class with a clear and simple directive, show kindness, and share words of encouragement on a daily basis than to get frustrated and lecture. Patience and quick, concise, creative redirection take energy, but not as much as losing patience and lecturing and getting angry/disappointed do. Today I saw a 90% reduction in "behaviors" and a huge increase in both their learning and my peace by applying the principles here— "the poetry of creativity and the crisp, precise rudiments of great operation".