October 13, 2011

Argentina innovation: Frozen Beef!

These are the common British cuts of beef. Bas...Image via WikipediaI'm just back from Argentina,  a vacation my spouse and I were very keen on. It was a blast and in the cloud 9 experience category. We got to visit parts of a great country with great people. I will talk to it some more in a later post with pictures. What I want to talk about though is what I discovered there when doing the tourist stuff.

Pre 1867:
As we were traveling we were reading about Argentina and the places we were visiting, the buildings etc. Then Manon stumbled on a very interesting piece of information. Argentina's rendez-vous with fame and glory: Frozen beef! It speaks to the power of innovation; it transformed people's lives and a country's future. For Argentina there was pre 1867 and after 1867. See Argentina has always had a great reputation for producing high quality beef. The problem they had was they could not sell it to anyone outside of their internal market. They had no way to ship the meat without it going bad before it made it to its destination.

Post 1867:
Well this date to Canadians is significant for different reasons, but for Argentinians it's the date when they figured out something very important. In 1867 they discovered a way to ship their beef frozen and keep it frozen long enough for the beef to make it to Europe and still be good to eat.

This innovation for Argentina was transformative. They figured how to freeze beef so they could export it and make huge money from that great resource they had. Thus was born the expression 'rich like an Argentinian'.

Where is my 'frozen beef' in my industry?
It is so simple when you think about it. I have a supply and there is a market for it but I just can't get it there. Then one guy puts two and two together and a country is transformed. Back in the day, frozen beef existed. Still the process needed to improve significantly so that significant breakthrough could be achieved with the beef supply.

Back in the day, the big innovation was what now looks like a fairly simple thing and we all know it wasn't. And still the point I want to make is how incremental this whole innovation was - frozen goods existed, boats transporting industry existed, beef existed ... still how very significant keeping beef frozen for a little longer turned out to be.

The take away for me is this incremental innovation is all around us in our businesses. It starts with a hitch, it starts with a gap, it starts with a pain, and next thing you know you might just have an Aspirin like impact.

The ingredients are here. We need to experiment. We need to continuously mix and remix! So where is the frozen beef moment in your business?

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