A sparkling kitchen and the
power of one per cent

By Max Smith, Customer Excellence Lead at AbbVie New Zealand

I hate cleaning my house, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. To some degree, I am lucky to have a partner who loves cleaning, but it turns out you can’t base a whole relationship taking advantage of that trait. My list of tasks would build up and by the end of the week, it was time for what I have termed “stress out Sundays”.

Hearing about and being involved with the innovation team at AbbVie, I came across the concept of Just. Doing. One. Thing. Daily. A panacea for all to-do lists, apparently. As with everything, there’s an app for that and I dragged myself to spend 15 minutes on a defined home cleaning task. It was easy to accomplish, motivating in that a relatively short and simple effort would help attain a bigger goal, and made me plan how to improve and refine this habit in the future. Now I could spend my Sundays stressing out about other things!

It wasn’t until I learned about the ‘power of one per cent’ that I got to thinking about the incremental effort I made in tackling something as simple as a household chore. There are 10,080 minutes in a week and spending 15 minutes of time daily making a small but impactful change makes up one per cent of that week.

Literature suggests that 99 per cent of successful innovation stems from “type one” incremental innovation (as opposed to type two “radical” innovation). Yet approaching non-product based innovation can feel challenging. I’ve heard a variety of (valid) barriers – performance-based expectations that accommodate success and not the risk of failure, resource limitations, a focus on already defined plans – all relatable and perhaps making the challenge to innovate seem insurmountable.

With the power of one per cent in mind, the future looks much more promising (and achievable). It’s likely your team has been embedding key innovation principles already but perhaps unaware that what feels like small change is still innovation.

At AbbVie, our mantra simply looks at innovation as change that adds value. My peers in Australia made some recent adjustments so that their patient support materials are all printed on recyclable paper. Locally in New Zealand, we’re geofencing our educational meetings to ensure that we are delivering more relevant content to our online attendees. Whilst these examples may sound like small changes, they have delivered a significant impact.

I’m challenging myself to bring this mindset to work not just to achieve larger outcomes, but to aim for small successes every day. If 15-20 minutes a day is all it takes on an individual basis, imagine the collective impact of embedding this habit in team culture.

AbbVie ANZ hosts Innovation Week each year where we bring together experts and thinktanks to inspire employees to think differently about how we approach problem solving, as well as encourage creativity and collaboration. This year’s theme focuses on – you guessed it – the power of one per cent.

But change starts at an individual level. What kinds of incremental innovation have you seen around you? Perhaps more importantly, how would you spend one per cent of your week in order to achieve change? Let me know in the comments.

In the meantime - House and Garden Magazine, I’ll await your call.

This article has been approved by AbbVie.