Moving to innovation

Following on from my previous article regarding the Staircase Model. I recently discussed with an old friend in India about the four foundations that the staircase model is built on:

  • Quality
  • Price
  • Social and Environmental Assurance
  • Delivery on time.

We discussed adding ‘Partners in Innovation’ to the above. After some reflection I came to the conclusion that this is actually a result of achieving a good performance. Innovation maybe difficult within a business if there are a number of quality claims for high priced products that have inherent reputational risks and are not always available in the store or distribution centre! The business would be fire fighting and a long way from innovating.

Then in terms of the Staircase Model – where does Partnership Innovation come in:

Staircase Level 4:  When a factory achieves this level, the organisation and its buyers have a strong understanding of the following:

Buyer and supplier alignment at level 4 allows for a partnership of success between the organisations – wanting and needing each other to be successful traders/retailers or factories. This then becomes a fertile ground for Innovation in product  and production development; helping to secure capacity and supply agreements that allow investment in efficient technology, new materials and processes that reduce the consumption of resources. An Innovation Partnership secures profit and a fabulous offer for the customer with Democratic Design.


All my LinkedIn articles have essentially been about business doing good in terms of performance and its responsibilities to society, both of which compliment each other to achieve growth.

Good business growth needs to work on quality, price, ethical and delivery performance. Once performance is secured in all these 4 areas at the same time, it creates a virtuous circle of success that allows for partnerships and high investments.  The staircase model is an excellent framework to achieve improvement and development through an innovation partnership.

One last reflection: probably the most difficult stage in starting to work with the Staircase Model is to find the right organisations to begin the climb by having the right management attitude to achieve level 4.

Mark K. Astley – Robert Vernon Associates Ltd.