An organisation’s success lies in inspiration through innovation

Inspiration through innovation is what truly helps to propel business success. I’ll share a story with you…

I lead DPD UK, and we’ve been on quite a journey over the last ten years. We’re now market leading and record-breaking, and by any measure, we’re the nation’s favourite delivery company. But it hasn’t always been this way. In 2008, when I became CEO, we were delivering around 54 million packages a year and most of our volumes were B2B. Last year we carried 263 million parcels, and more than half of these were delivered to home addresses.

It’s a massive leap that we’re really proud of. How did we do it? Inspiration through innovation – by innovating, changing our focus, staying one step ahead of our peers, using the best technology available and taking considered risks.

 

Inspiration through innovation has propelled DPD UK to the top

Innovation has turned DPD UK into the biggest success story in the UK’s parcel delivery industry. Innovation in our top-level strategic decisions is what inspires Team DPD UK at every level. We see it on a regular basis, with employees at all levels singled out for praise by customers, managers and peers.

Everyone in our company is a rock star. And every role is vital, whether in customer service, head office, out on the road or behind the scenes maintaining vehicles and equipment. Each part of our company inspires the others to innovate, and together they form a winning team. We stay ahead by innovating until everything becomes a ‘wow’ moment for customers and staff.

But why does innovation lead to inspiration?

Innovation is about people, not money

The late great Steve Jobs was a true innovator. His passion, drive and ability to cut through the confusion surrounding trail-blazing technology made Apple what it is today. He said: “Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. It’s all about the people you have, how you’re led and how much you get it.” Do you ‘get it’? Is your organisation following an all-inclusive approach? This is at the heart of a truly innovative and successful workplace. Leaders should work to harness the skills, passion and intelligence of every single person in their organisation, so everything they do is a collaborative effort.

Innovation isn’t just about having a top-level idea, though. Take our industry-leading forum, Design Space within the DPD app. All of the people who worked together to launch and create the forum and make it successful were inspired to do so. By cultivating an inclusive ‘we’re all in this together’ culture we inspired innovation and success.  It is full-on, though. At DPD UK, we expect a lot from our people, but we give a lot back. The crucial factor is that everyone is connected and contributing to the overall success of our mission.

All businesses have the potential to develop an innovative culture

Innovation is our life-blood, it’s what we are famous for and what wows our customers –shippers and shoppers alike.

An innovative company culture invites people to become the best they can be. We focus more on our people’s attitude than their qualifications. Many of our directors reached the boardroom from the ‘shop floor’ and they’ve been promoted because of their talent, their creativity and their DNA – buying into DPD’s distinctive values. As far as I’m concerned, everyone at DPD is a rock star.

While we may have started life 50 years ago, the DPD UK of today is vastly different to our original company. And since our rebrand from Parceline in 2008, we’ve developed many innovative ways of improving our business. The timeline below shows how fast and how far we’ve come, and it’s all down to embedding a strong culture of innovation within our teams.

 

Timeline

  • 2010: Launch of Predict, the first ever one-hour notification service for customers.
  • 2011: Team DPD numbers 5,500 people.
  • 2011: Becomes first carrier to launch mobile website.
  • 2012: DPD UK overtakes TNT to reach number 2 delivery service in UK.
  • 2013: Turnover hits £670 million.
  • 2014: First carrier to launch Sunday service covering entire country.
  • 2015: Launches Pickup network in 2,500 shops. Predict wins ‘Innovation’ category at the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise.
  • 2016: Turnover reaches £1 billion.
  • 2017: 12,000 people in the team, and MoneySavingExpert names DPD UK ‘best delivery firm’ for fifth consecutive year.
  • 2018: Launch of country’s very first all-electric depot.
  • 2019: DPD app reaches 6 million downloads.
  • 2020: Heavy investment in green delivery with all-electric vehicles and micro-depots.

Four ways to achieving inspiration through innovation

I’m sharing this story with you to demonstrate what can be achieved by inspiring employees through innovation. Our technological innovations focus on the customer but also on our team, and it’s paying off massively.

If I could distil this into four ways that other companies can inspire through innovation, it would be:

  1. Create a collaborative, innovative workplace
    Through communication, reward programmes, listening to and developing staff, and giving them a clear overarching purpose, an organisation inspires people to contribute more.
  2. Make innovation normal
    DPD UK is a company that has great idea after great idea. We continually smash our targets and keep improving. And that’s because innovation is an everyday thing for us. It’s at the heart of everything we do. It’s not a specialist ‘add-on’ programme for the company. It’s a systematic process that involves everyone. Make innovation a thing – every day.
  3. Always innovate and use cutting-edge technology
    When we started developing the DPD UK app in 2015, we came across many obstacles. Getting the technology to do what we needed it to do for our customers was challenging. But we blasted through and got it done. And now we have over 6 million downloads and thousands of truly engaged customers. At every step, every hub opening, every 1,000 new employees and every leap in our revenue, there could have been a time when we stopped. But resting on our laurels isn’t an option for a business that wants to continue pushing boundaries and doing the impossible. Never stop innovating or using cutting-edge technology to achieve your goals.
  4. Take strategic risks
    You can’t truly innovate without taking risks. We experiment and research and then invest wisely. It’s paid off on several high-profile innovations for DPD UK and has propelled us to the top. In the meantime, incremental improvements happen daily, all around the business. So make sure that you take strategic risks.