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Hard to believe it’s been 15 years since SupplyChainBrain, in partnership with the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, launched the Supply Chain Innovation Award. The idea was to honor companies and service providers that took a truly new approach to the way in which they moved product to market. It might be a dramatic productivity gain in the warehouse or factory. Or a fresh way of working with suppliers. Or a ground-breaking advance in packaging. But each winner of the competition has had one thing in common: they all embraced the idea of innovation.

But what is “innovation,” really? In one sense, a numbingly overused word. Just about every new product or service to hit the market today brags about being “innovative” — or even better, “disruptive.” We’re obsessed with the notion of disturbing the status quo, or least claiming to in marketing materials. Yet true innovation, spurred by original thinkers, designers, planners and engineers, remains a relatively rare animal. And that’s the creature our judges have been relentlessly searching for, in their decade and a half of reviewing submissions to the contest.

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