Why The Path To Innovation Starts At The Coal Face Of Our Business

To be involved at the “coal face” means being directly engaged in the day-to-day operations of a business, rather than in a hands-off, managerial position. And just like coal miners sport a dust mask of grime and grit, as evidence of an honest shift somewhere deep beneath our feet, the millions of South Africans who get up every morning to do the hard yards at the front lines of our businesses also have their fair share of battle scars, born out of endless customer interactions.

  • It’s the front-liners who handle the slew of consumer enquiries every day.
  • It’s the front-liners who make the sales and book the revenue.
  • And it’s the front-liners in your business who know your business better than anyone else.

At Stangen one of our core principles is to innovate to meet a real social need!

We are constantly asking ourselves, “What type of insurance cover do South Africans really need?” and, “How can we do things better?”

In the spirit of true innovation, we recently launched our first annual staff innovation challenge and we would like to share what an inspiring couple of weeks it’s been for everyone involved.

We know our front-liners are the real heroes in our business and are best placed to come up with innovative ideas to service our existing customers and push the envelope when it comes to new product ideas.

So, we laid down the challenge to all our staff members:

  •   5 weeks
  • 4 minutes to pitch your innovative idea
  • 3 categories (business efficiency, product innovation and channel distribution)
  • 2 team members or more
  • 1 winning team

What were we hoping to achieve?

First off, we wanted to clearly communicate with all our staff members that no idea is too small in our business and that regardless of the role you play in our company, your ideas matter and you will have a platform to express yourself.

Secondly, we truly wanted to find at least three innovative business ideas we could drive forward – and it turns out we found many more.

And lastly, we wanted to stretch our staff members and get them out of their comfort zones.

What did we learn from running our first staff innovation challenge?

The biggest takeaway was that our front-liners know our business inside out and have truly wonderful ideas on how to look after our customers and find new ones. We know they get up every day looking to fly the Stangen flag, but what we didn’t know is that some of them have plans to plant that flag on the moon.

We want to salute every front-liner in every business around the country. Thank you for putting your best foot forward every day. At the same time, we want to challenge every business in South Africa to embrace innovation and kick off your own innovation challenge. 

The Stangen Management Team 

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