Weekly Editorial

Industry Innovation

Written By Rob Kirkbride, Write Office • March 13, 2023

The office furniture industry spends a lot of time talking about products that are cool, fit a certain niche, function in a different way or match well with a segment like hospitality or corporate. We don’t spend much time talking about something much more important than any of that: innovation.

Our industry is certainly creative, but it sometimes falls short when it comes to innovation. There is a reason people complain that every showroom and booth at the (insert any show name here) office furniture show looks pretty much the same.

And when innovation does occur, there is a legion of “fast followers” who simply put their own stamp on a similar-looking product. Would there be mesh-backed office chairs if Herman Miller never launched Aeron? It makes you wonder.

So why is innovation lacking? There are three reasons: It’s hard, it’s expensive and it doesn’t always work. The last reason might be the hardest to get beyond. It is tough to put your neck on the line, especially when the new idea might fail or be ridiculed.

I have three words for you. Don’t. Give. Up.

Regardless of if you fall flat while reaching for innovation, it always pays off. And I can assure you, all of your stakeholders — from customers and shareholders to employees and designers — will see that you are innovating, even if you fail, and will reward you for it in the long run.

I would argue that if you look at the most successful companies in the industry and study how they succeeded, the most robust periods of growth came from times of intense innovation. It is literally how the reputations of those companies were built.

For years, INDEAL has grown along with the dealers, reps, manufacturers and designers that it serves. Now it is innovating and evolving by linking the insights it has gathered to inform its direction. From its origins as a dealer purchasing organization, INDEAL has evolved to become a provider of solutions that can help all of the stakeholders in the industry.

Some features of The Insider – aside from the new design – are changing as well. We’re evolving The Insider to streamline the way we deliver the most relevant content to help you evolve, survive and thrive in the industry.

Moving ahead, you can look forward to receiving a full-length version of The Insider once a month along with shorter snapshots like this the weeks in between.

Innovation isn’t easy. But it is always worth it. Keep moving forward and keep pushing the industry forward. The world needs innovation from you more than ever. Don’t let it down.

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