Friday, September 26, 2008

Pete Krainik: Update from The Consumer Goods Growth and Innovation Forum: Do You Have Innovation Processes/Platforms in Place as CMOs?

I was fortunate enough this week to attend Consumer Goods Technology’s Growth and Innovation Forum, an entire conference focused on sharing ideas on approaches for ensuring innovation success within the Consumer Goods Industry. A great event that marketing executives should put on their list of events to attend.

Yesterday I had lunch with Jennie Rodriquez – VP Strategy at Coca Cola, Mary Beth Robles – VP Innovation at Colgate-Palmolive, Jeff Bellairs – Director Worldwide Innovation at General Mills, Kurt Schweitzer - VP at Kimberly-Clark, Karen Milley – Director Product Development at Smucker’s, Raymond Lau - Principal Scientist at Altria, and Tony Grzesik - Industry Specialist at Microsoft. The lunch discussion quickly moved to innovation and the approaches, platforms and internal/external environments required for innovation success for new products, services and technologies. Given the importance within the Consumer Goods Industry of creating a stream of new products and product extensions, I was surprised at the level of focus, discipline and most importantly, the passion from each of the Innovation Execs at the table.

Everyone of these companies have implemented structured ideation processes for 1) collecting and prioritizing ideas from employees, partners, and consumers, 2) designing and implementing idea collaboration platforms for input, sharing, and then managing delivery of prioritized ideas, and 3) programs for motivating employees and customers to come forward with ideas and rewarding them for winning ideas.

As heads or marketing and officers in our companies, innovation plays a large part of our leadership role. How many of us have structured ideation processes like the product groups within Consumer Goods companies? I’m not suggesting expensive platforms and “creativity smothering” policies and procedures, but simply putting some effort into how you best incent the input of new ideas, idea collection , collaboration (to build on the ideas) , and prioritization of ideas and the project management for delivery.
In addition, at the end of the dinner I asked the group for one piece of advice they would give CMOs regarding innovations. There answers:
1) Think about more strategic, higher impact, innovations then shorter term tactical needs.
2) Think broader across the business vs. marketing department only innovations. Demonstrate the “Officer” part of the CMO title.
3) Champion innovation efforts within your company. Invest time for input and feedback to innovation teams and help motivate employees working on innovation efforts.

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