For a trade magazine, coming up with a cover concept is often challenging—especially these days with tight budgets and limited resources. So when we found the photo of the goldfish swimming against a school of fish, it seemed like an appropriate cover image for our annual Logistics Innovators issue.
The photo reminded me of Apple Computer's "Think Different" ad campaign and a Steve Jobs quote: "Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower." After all, Jobs, the co-founder and CEO of Apple, knows a thing or two about innovation. But the more I looked at the cover, another quote, this one from W.C. Fields, came to mind: "Remember, a dead fish can float downstream, but it takes a live one to swim upstream."
In a way, that saying may be more fitting for business today. How many organizations are, in fact, slowly dying, accepting the status quo and not incenting their employees to come up with new ideas? Playing it safe and not allowing their leaders to take the company in a different direction?
For this month's cover story, "Swim Different," we found many examples of innovation. This is the second year we've presented the Logistics Innovators and once again, we had trouble narrowing down the list to just 10 companies. For 2005, our line-up includes:
Dial Corp.; Jel Sert Co.; Fresh Direct, The Food Bank of New York City, Piller's Sausages and Delicatessens Ltd.; Allen Bros.; Ozburn Hessey Logistics; Ventura Foods LLC; Perdue Farms and Four Square, a U.K.-based subsidiary of Mars Inc.
Some of these companies, such as Dial, focused on a particular challenge within their operations and implemented a solution to fix the problem. Online grocer Fresh Direct has helped revive the idea of home deliveries and this market—which imploded along with Webvan—is on an upswing. Other companies, such as Ozburn Hessey, have been recognized for their unique approach to helping their food customers become more productive and profitable.
We congratulate the companies honored as FL's Logistics Innovators. Innovation always requires a certain uncertainty, but as these companies will attest, the potential rewards make the risks worth taking.