Innovation, Design, Creativity, and the United States Postal Service

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Innovation, Design, Creativity, and the United States Postal Service OI 361 Innovation, Design, and Creativity
July 9, 2012

Benefits and Drivers
Just as in nature, in business it is survival of the fittest. The key to success and longevity for businesses in the modern world is to be innovative and creative. To be innovative, it is imperative that a company develop a culture that encourages new ideas, welcomes the latest technology, and implements pioneering processes. For the United States Postal Service (USPS), an independent government agency responsible for providing postal services in the United States, the innovative culture and thrive that once was is today losing its edge. The United States Postal Service has to close the gap between its competitors, Fed Ex, and UPS. To close the competitive gap the government agency will need to reexamine how innovation, design, and creativity support the government agency’s current goals and objectives as well as identify internal and external drivers that will either get the proverbial wheel of innovative ideas turning or coming to a screeching halt.

The United States Postal Service was formed in 1775. Its first postmaster general was Benjamin Franklin. Despite the USPS’s primitive beginning with the use of steamboats to carry mail, the agency could recognize the need to expand. Therefore, in 1832, railroads were implemented in the mail service process. In 1847, another act of innovation and business perception gave the United States and its postal system the first stamp. Stamps are still purchased today; there are even a few collected as rare and priceless art. Heading into the 20th century, the United States Postal Service continued to innovate and improve their operations.

In 1918, the agency seized air mail service from the United States Army Air Service. By 1995, the transport of First-Class mail became a routinely practice. Despite the efforts made in the United States Postal Service history, by 2001 the agency faced an enormous decline. E-mails and the Internet have replaced the need to communicate via standard mail. As a result of low budgets, and lack of revenue the United States Postal Service was forced to make significant cuts and close more than 3,000 small offices. Today, more than ever, the United States Postal Service is in urgent need of innovative ideas. A closer look into the agency’s goals and objectives reveal that it can be supported.

According to the United States Postal Service, the role of a leader within the agency is to guide employees and teams of executives toward more innovation, profit, and efficiency (Leadership US Postal Service, 2012). It is without question that the agency understands the importance of a culture that encourages innovation. Designing cost-efficient processes and tapping into new technology will give the agency a competitive edge in this rapidly changing market. The United States Postal Service has a huge commitment to its customers and employees. Despite the large layoffs, the agency still has many employees who can be vital to the revamping of the dying system. By conducting brainstorming exercises with employees, creativity, and ideas form.

Although the United States Postal Service has goals and objectives that support innovation, design, and creativity, there are factors that drive innovation or hinder innovation. These factors fall under two categories, internal, and external. Internal drivers or hinders of innovation are generated from within the organization. External drivers or hinders of innovation are generated from outside the organization and generally cannot be controlled by the organization.

An internal driver of innovation for the United States Postal Service is the...
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