“Macro innovative ideas grow by looking to the world from a distance and saying, ‘how can I make a difference?’ And if you think that you have found something, go for it. But of course if you develop 10 macro innovative ideas, perhaps only one or two will survive. So it’s important to know very fast during your development stage if you’re on the right track, so you really have to monitor the market constantly and get as close to the market as possible to listen to the needs on the floor.”
One of the biggest problems facing the healthcare industry today is a world-wide labour shortage. Figuring out how to look after more patients with less nurses is something Haelvoet is concentrating on at present. Watch this space!
Today the company manufactures its beds, beside tables and medical relax chairs on a platform base, allowing them to easily add variations or combine different features to meet customers’ requests. But that versatility also has a downside too. “One change can have quite some influence on other parts of the product. You have to pay attention to what you’re doing during the innovation process.”
Vincent has an ‘ideas map’ where he parks thoughts, comments, challenges and requests about certain products or issues until the time is right to address them. “Some ideas stay there for years because you can’t solve every problem immediately. Sometimes you have a lack of resources or it will involve too many parts or it’s too expensive or the time is not right. But sooner or later we will take ideas out of the map and do something.”
One important innovation strategy that Haelvoet embraced five years ago was to put 50% of their efforts into the last 10% of the product development process.
“The last 10% is all the finer details which ensure our products look better, function better and offer the best quality result. If people are comparing two products, you always want to be the one they choose in the end.”