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Invention For Innovation’s Sake

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 by Slaughter Development

ACCO Brands Corp., one of the leading companies in office supplies, recently created a new product that seems to trump traditional paper clips when it comes to keeping documents organized. The question however, is whether or not the invention is money well spent.

According to a recent article, ACCO Klix Clips are an advanced prototype that aim to succeed where old school paper clips have failed:

Standard clips “don’t actually do the job they’re supposed to do,” says Julian Peck, a Newcastle, England-based engineer who invented Klix. “They ping off. You can’t rely on them.”

Yet, some are skeptical at the actual need and price-effectiveness of the product, which has been said to cost 16 times the amount of its less than fancy counterpart. The article points out that even the company bigwigs have conceded to this fact:

ACCO executives acknowledge that customers weren’t clamoring for a better clip. Emily Ford, a manager who orders supplies in the Atlanta office of consulting firm Kurt Salmon, says some people can be very picky about pens or notebooks. But paper clips? “I’ve done this job for 17 years, and no one has ever expressed an opinion on paper clips,” she says. “It’s really a price decision.”

ACCO marketing executives say they haven’t done market research on paper clips for years. The company wasn’t looking for the next big thing in paper fasteners until Mr. Peck, the inventor, came knocking a few years ago . . .

After a bit of research, Slaughter Development discovered that the difference in price could easily sway the consumer’s opinion on the new product and the true necessity of it. While a box of 100 paper clips costs around $1, a package of ten Klix Clips costs around $3. Given that consumers utilize about 11 billion paper clips each year, it certainly seems as if price will be the ultimate factor in choosing which prototype office managers choose to stock supply closets with in their workplace.

Yet, if we disregard price for a moment and simply compare the usefulness and effectiveness of the products themselves, it could ultimately change consumer’s minds. Take for instance, reliability. How many times have traditional paper clips lost their strength from being bent or reused too much? How often have we resorted to staples or folders when documents prove too large? When we examine the difference in this regard, it poses quite a viable case for Klix Clips. Though more expensive, the fact is, the innovative clip proves stronger and more versatile in the office. So it can be argued that, despite upfront cost, the product with an extensively higher performance value can easily be made up in price.

Of course, the jury is still out on this product. It probably will be for as long as it takes to prove whether it’s worth every penny spent. But, it prompts us to reflect upon the importance for innovation. Like the paper clip, we all have processes in our offices that have essentially worked for years. We’ve probably left them unaltered specifically because there’s little reason to question their effectiveness. Yet, as ACCO has done with Klix Clips, we should be encouraged to seek out innovation even when it appears unnecessary. It is this type of mentality that fosters motivation, productive workflow and the desire for further improvement. Not to mention, it creates an environment filled with an immense amount of stakeholder satisfaction. So don’t waste another second working among outdated processes. Take the time to innovate today and you’ll soon see just how much of a difference it can make!

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Like this post? Here are some related entries from The Methodology Blog you might enjoy:

Mental Balance and Variation - To Slaughter Development’s founder, balance and variation is key in creating and maintaining a proper diet. Likewise, it’s essential in the continued development of our minds. Read on »
The Most Important Idea, Ever - Writing blog posts that make sweeping claims for all time are like the story of the patent clerk who said that “everything had been invented.” Still, Alfie Kohn’s 1993 article for Harvard Business Review may be the most important and yet almost completely ignored idea in business.
Read on »
Paper Receipts: Useful or Useless? - Debating as to whether or not paperless receipts would increase productivity in your business? If so, perhaps some advice from Lavon Temple at Delivra will help make your decision easier. Take a look at the pros and cons she discovered after researching the topic. Read on »

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