The 7R’s of Innovation

If you want to apply some innovative thinking in your business, the “7Rs of Innovation” is a framework in which you can work in with 7 key areas to think about.


The first step in innovative thinking is that you ALWAYS need to rethink things. You need to continuously be thinking about how you can do things differently. Remember, this should be a constant process.


Then you need to think about how you can reconfigure things especially in low-value or waste activities. How can you restructure things to make your business become more efficient, more effective, and more innovative? In this step, consider the following:

  • How can this activity be eliminated?
  • How can common activities be consolidated?
  • How can reconciliation be reduced by putting quality at the source?
  • How can information sharing with suppliers and customers improve the process?
  • How can intermediaries and non-value-added work be eliminated?
  • How can best practices from other industries be borrowed and improved upon?


In this step, think about how you can resequence your business processes in a more parallel or efficient way when time compression is crucial.

  • How can predicting increase efficiency?
  • How can postponement increase flexibility?
  • How can parallelism reduce time?
  • How can the number of interconnections and dependencies be minimised?


Apply this step when activities require a high level of teamwork or collaboration i.e. when distance from customer or supplier has introduced delay, miscommunication or error. Consider the following:

  • How can the activity be moved closer to the customer or supplier to improve effectiveness?
  • How can the activity be moved closer to related activities to improve communication?
  • How can we decrease cycle time by reducing travel time and distance?
  • How can geographically virtual organisations be created?


Apply when higher accuracy is needed, or critical resources are performing non-value added or waste work. What could you reduce in your process to be innovative? Can you reduce inputs, manpower? For example, you could reduce product quality even to get back to a price point where you’re competitive.

  • How can the frequency of the activity be reduced or increased?
  • How would more information enable greater effectiveness?
  • How would less information or fewer controls simplify and improve efficiency?
  • How can critical resources be used more effectively?


Reassess your business. Do you have the right people doing the right jobs? Do you have the right companies, organisations doing the right jobs? Think about reassigning things to get improved outcomes.

  • How can existing activities and decisions be moved to a different organisation?
  • How can the activity be outsourced?
  • How can the customer perform this activity?
  • How can the organisation perform an activity that the customer is already performing?
  • How can cross-training integrate and compress tasks?
  • How can suppliers/partners perform this activity?


And lastly, in this globally competitive business environment, it is crucial to think about how you can use technology to drive change in your business. How could you retool or reskill your people? Consider multiskilling, cross-skilling to get your business to an innovative level.

  • How can technology transform the process?
  • How can the activity be automated?
  • How can assets or competencies be leveraged to create competitive advantage?
  • How can up-skilling, down-skilling, or multi-skilling improve the process?
  • Use the 7Rs as a framework to stimulate some innovative thinking in your business.

To fully understand the 7Rs process, download the sheet here and use it in detail as a guide to improve and apply innovative thinking in your business.

For more strategic and innovative ideas, check out our other resources – videos, diagnostics, webinars, etc. – on this website to help you grow your business and take it to the next level.

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