Quote: Innovation Wins

It is not about keeping up with the Jones. It is about innovating faster than they can.

“Innovation always wins.”  Patti Payne  I believe that to succeed in this century requires that you have innovation as one of your core values.  Change is happening so fast that we must be moving quickly to adapt to the changes happening all around us.


Since I’m running for Port of Tacoma Commissioner I’ll talk about innovation as it pertains to the maritime environment.  To start with, specifically two ideas that produced results. 


One is the invention, for lack of a better word, for moving cargo in containers.  Did this idea come from a ship builder, a longshoreman, a port operator, or steamship line?  No, it came from a truck driver sitting in line to get his goods and transport them.  In the end he not only had the idea, he acted on it to move goods by boxes and Sealand the company was formed and the rest is history. 


At our own Port of Tacoma someone also had a great idea.  Why not move the rail tracks closer to the ships to cut down on the travel time between the ship and the rail yard?  Thus, “on dock rail” was born.  It was what put the Port of Tacoma on the map.


The question is now, “Are we done innovating in the maritime industry?”  Categorically the answer must be no!”  There is plenty of room for more innovation and productivity improvements in the moving of goods.  Technology is sure to be one of the areas as we have seen other ports take advantage of how you can move boxes/containers around, stack them like Lego blocks and un-stack and put them on trains or trucks destined for their delivery points.


I think that there is another “on dock rail” like idea at the Port of Tacoma that can once again put Tacoma on the map as being a place for innovation. 


Where that innovative idea will come from is anyone’s guess.  In order for innovation to happen you must create an environment where people feel free to take chances with ideas.  It cannot be a “top down” driven idea machine.  Instead most creative ideas will bubble up from the bottom.  Creating the culture for this to happen in an unthreatening manner is what leadership must continually work on. 


For the Port of Tacoma to once again shine it cannot buy its way out of the debt mess it is in.  Instead, there will have to be a combination of factors at work.  Regional maritime partnerships is one way, but I also believe that innovation might be the what separates Tacoma from the rest of the pack of ports. 


Helping promote an atmosphere for innovation is one of goals I have for becoming a Port Commissioner.