Robot Strawberry Picker, Abundance Report

January 25, 2011 · Posted in abundance, economics, innovation · Comment 

In the USA picking strawberries is hard low paid work for migrant, often illegal alien, workers. Japan’s robot strawberry picker comes from a different mindset.

Most post-industrialized nations complain about cheap foreign labor taking their jobs. Similarly people living in high income nations complain that automation is eliminating jobs, even jobs no one really wants to do. Standing in the hot sun bending over picking strawberries for 12 hours per day is not desirable work for any person.

Japan values their national cultural identity much more than other post-industrialized nations. Being a small island nation they are very concerned about depending on foreigners for materials. Japan understands and values self-sufficiency. Additionally, Japan is an aging society. The ratio of young people who are able to do manual labor is declining. If Japan is going to remain self-sufficient it must find ways to do more with less human labor.

Japan’s obsession with automation stems from their need to do more with less. Proper design and automation is how Japanese companies increase productivity and quality while reducing costs.

Even though Japan is a small nation it produces a great deal of food, particularly for local use. Rather than using the mass production approach of the nations with large amounts of land such as the USA, Canada, and Russia, Japan produces food in super efficient small scale farms. These types of farms are particularly well suited to automation. A small family owned farm using automation can produce much more food per acre and at much higher quality than the large scale industrial farming approach. Rather than viewing automation as stealing jobs, the Japanese are spreading real wealth by allowing more people to directly own and operate the means of production.

Japan is moving forward into Abundance both technologically and socially. Other nations and people could learn a lot from the Japanese.

Who will pay for Frozen Food Innovation?

December 28, 2008 · Posted in innovation, strategy · Comment 

When looking for prospective clients I ask the question, “how many direct innovations are available?” I personally prefer indirect innovations but it’s much easier for new clients to understand and accept direct ones. This makes my value to the client more apparent so they are happy.

So I recently came across contact information for an executive of a company that makes frozen foods. I plugged a little information into the Predictive Innovation Method and in 2 minutes came up with one extremely valuable direct innovation for that industry and a simple way to make it. This innovation could save the company millions of dollars, possibly save lives and be a great product differentiator.

Even better this innovation has been publicly available for over 20 years. No R&D is needed. Plus there is an even better improvement to the idea that they could release later.

So now my question is, how do I make money from this? One way is to hint that I know something that will save the company money and could be used as a brand differentiator and possibly prevent serious legal damages. Then hope they will pay me to tell them.

That doesn’t sound very promising. But maybe I could offer the same information to all the competitors in the market, maybe that would increase my chances of success. There are about five big brands I could try. Maybe I can increase the urgency by telling each that I am making the offer to competitors.

Or I can employ my favorite type of innovation, the indirect alternative. I can approach attorneys for food born illness cases and tell them that I have proof these companies deliberately did not take reasonable measures to protect the health and safety of people eating their food. This information would likely drastically increase damages possibly being worth millions of dollars.

The information is worth exactly the same amount to the attorney’s as it is the food company but it costs the attorneys much less to act on the information. The food companies need to change their manufacturing process, plus the small cost to each item. The attorney’s only need to present the information in court or a settlement meeting. And the fact that the food companies made an economic decision to risk the health and safety of the public would be very damaging in a court case especially if the media reported on it. That type of information would make the attorney’s job much easier.

If you are paying attention you will see that I can find many other types of people who could benefit from this innovation or just knowledge of the innovation.

Short list of types of customers for the innovation:

  • Suppliers of the actual innovation (at least five)
  • Shippers of the food (at least one for each frozen food company)
  • Stores that sell the food (at least 5 major companies)
  • Companies handling non-food frozen items (hundreds)

You might also realize that I can make money from all of the possibilities. The possibilities aren’t OR each one is an AND. So I turned that one opportunity into over 20. That is a possible increase of return on investment of 2000%

This type of strategy is only possible if you can reliably generate focused innovations on demand. Notice that I did not do an Intellectual Property expansion on this innovation. The Predictive Innovation Method reveals there are at least 105 different ways to achieve the same result of that one innovation. So if either of those potential customer’s want to pursue the innovation I can quickly find the lowest cost lowest risk way to achieve the highest profit.

Let’s see who will Pay for It.