Articles by Industry

Draper CEO on Innovation: ‘Three Keys to Breakthrough Innovation’

"I don't want to encourage failure," says Ken Gabriel, CEO of the $600 million non-profit R&D organization Draper. "I want to encourage people not to fear failure." Gabriel also talks about the CEOs role in helping knock down obstacles to innovation, and why less-frequent project updates are a good thing...

Northrop Grumman exec on how innovation, R&D, and business units can ‘increase awesome’

On a recent conference call, Kevin Parsons, the Director of Innovation and Transformation at $23 billion defense and aerospace giant Northrop Grumman joined us to explain how his innovation group is influencing the culture and bringing business units into its process — without antagonizing the R&D folks. Includes 30 minutes of audio....

Moonshots, roof shots, and failing forward: Google and XPRIZE execs on enabling big breakthroughs

"We distinguish between 'roof shots' and moonshots," says Google X executive Hans Peter Brøndmo. "You could say, 'If I wanted to get up on the roof of this building, I could come up with a really innovative solution. I might actually technically, be closer to the moon, but I didn't do anything to get to the moon.' More insights from Brøndmo and XPRIZE CEO Marcus Shingles inside, from a session held at the inaugural Harvest Summit...

Innovation lessons from Airbus’ foray into 3D-printed electric motorcycles

One expects to hear about sleek new cabin designs or fuel-efficient aircraft from the $70.5 billion Airbus Group. So heads turned when the aerospace giant introduced the world’s first 3D-printed motorcycle in May. The story of the how and why Airbus brought the bike to market offers useful lessons for other large corporations.

Audio: Shell and Thales execs on setting up innovation outposts, gauging impact

Executives from Shell TechWorks and the Thales xPlor initiative joined Innovation Leader editor Scott Kirsner earlier this year to talk about what they hope to accomplish with the innovation labs they've set up in the Boston area, and how they're being measured. Here's the audio and slides.

Airbus exec on co-innovation and seizing opportunities outside the airplane

Markus Durstewitz, head of innovation methods and tools for Airbus Group, talks about how the $67 billion manufacturer is working with suppliers, passengers, and pilots to make air travel more efficient. Includes slides...
See all Aerospace & Defense articles & case studies »

Lessons from AGCO: Successful university collaborations

Ravi Godbole, a research and engineering executive at the $10.8 billion agricultural equipment manufacturer, explains how strong university relationships fit into AGCO's organic growth strategy — and discusses the pitfalls you should avoid.

How DuPont’s innovation centers bring it closer to customers

Karen Weining, Global Innovation Excellence Leader at DuPont, explains how the pioneering materials company has been collaborating with customers at its network of 12 innovation centers around the world.
See all Agriculture articles & case studies »

Photos: Inside W. L. Gore’s Silicon Valley Innovation Center

“Gore is well known for internal innovation, and we’re increasing our focus on external innovation,” says Linda Elkins, a veteran of Gore’s R&D organization and leader of the company’s new Silicon Valley Innovation Center. Elkins gave Innovation Leader contributing photographer Cayce Clifford a look at the center in July.

Former Lululemon Strategy Manager on Changing Consumer Motivations and Retail Disruption

“I think retail is going through a really interesting time right now," Lindsay Angelo said in a recent conversation. "Certainly as a more established brand, there are a lot of headwinds out there. But think about how you can take advantage of that turbulence internally." Angelo shares her take, and several slides...

‘More Speed, More Local, More Custom’: How Reebok is Thinking Outside the Mold

When it came to designing and manufacturing athletic shoes, Bill McInnis, VP at Reebok Future, says the shoe company wanted to get “ a lot more speed, a lot more local, and a lot more custom.” This was the inspiration for initiatives like the "Liquid Factory" and "Cotton + Corn," two new processes the team has come up with for manufacturing shoes. More from McInnis inside about these initiatives and Reebok Future...

Photos: How Lululemon Athletica is bringing designers closer to customers

At a new "lab" store in Manhattan's Noho neighborhood, customers come in to peruse merchandise in the front of the store, and when they head to the fitting rooms to try it on, or to a counter to pay for it, they're just a few steps away from the designers who work in the back half of the space. Photos inside...

Former Gap exec Michael Perman: Is innovation really everyone’s job?

"Two common axioms are ridiculous. Stay away from them," writes Michael Perman, who has held innovation roles at Gap Inc. and Levi Strauss & Co. "Innovation is everyone’s job. NOT. That’s no more true than distribution being everyone’s job. Yes, everyone needs to have EMPATHY, but in reality, innovation requires talent, passion, and tenacity." The other ridiculous axiom? Keep reading...

How W.L. Gore is training employees to explore new business opportunities

Head of Innovation Greg Hannon says you need to be realistic about the friction that often exists in organizations between innovation-oriented groups and the majority of more operationally-focused departments. A new lean startup skills program at Gore addresses the friction, while training employees to explore new market opportunities.
See all Apparel articles & case studies »

Photos: How Cadillac House is Helping to Transform The Vehicle Maker’s Brand

When Cadillac relocated its global headquarters from Detroit to New York City in 2015, it wasn’t just a change of scenery for the luxury vehicle maker, a division of General Motors. The company was looking to get consumers to reevaluate the brand. Hear from Nathan Tan, Associate Director of Brand Partnerships and Experiences at Global Cadillac, about the creation of Cadillac House, and see photos from inside the space.

Goodyear’s Chris Varley on How Tech Scouting Work Should Tie in to the Business

Part of Varley's job is "supporting and encouraging managers tasked with developing 'something new' on a five- or ten-year roadmap to think differently, and consider that it may actually be faster and less risky for them to take a chance on working with a startup on the outside than trying to build everything from scratch in the lab." Here's his advice on bringing new ideas into a $15 billion company...

Why Italian vehicle-maker Piaggio set up a new lab to design robots

Piaggio, headquartered in Pontedera, Italy, is best-known for the scooters and motorcycles it produces, including Vespa and Moto Guzzi. But the new lab in Boston wouldn't focus on creating vehicles with two or four wheels to travel on roads. "I don't think the evolution of mobility is still four wheels with an engine," Colaninno says. "The car is a 1900s idea."

How BMW’s corporate venture capital strategy is changing

Last November, five years after starting a corporate venture capital group, carmaker BMW announced that it would invest up to 500 million Euros over the next decade, across a broad swath of the tech landscape, from 3D printing to on-demand transportation to smart logistics. BMW also moved its US office from New York to Silicon Valley, and accelerated the decision-making process for making new investments. We spoke to Managing Director Ulrich Quay to understand what's behind all of the changes.

At Honda’s Silicon Valley Lab, riding shotgun with Google, Apple, Visa, and others

While it began life as an R&D outpost in 2000, and later added a venture capital team, Honda's Silicon Valley site is now a full-fledged innovation hub for the company, overseeing a range of important partnerships and startup interactions. Nick Sugimoto explains how it's set up.

Innovation lessons from Airbus’ foray into 3D-printed electric motorcycles

One expects to hear about sleek new cabin designs or fuel-efficient aircraft from the $70.5 billion Airbus Group. So heads turned when the aerospace giant introduced the world’s first 3D-printed motorcycle in May. The story of the how and why Airbus brought the bike to market offers useful lessons for other large corporations.
See all Automotive articles & case studies »

Creating an environment for innovators at India’s $43 billion Reliance Industries

"Some organizations think that putting processes of innovation in place will ensure a culture of innovation," says Sushil Borde, VP of Innovation at Reliance. "But they don't focus on creating the environment or fostering innovative talent, and that's where they fail." We spoke with Borde to learn more about how the company is working to institutionalize innovation, the innovation programs he’s helped to create, and the five tenets that guide innovation at Reliance.

Six tips from Eastman Innovation Lab on managing a distributed team

Managing a distributed team comes with its own set of challenges. Creative manager Farrell Calabrese shares six tips and tools she uses to manage the Eastman Innovation Lab, part of $9.5 billion Eastman Chemical.

How DuPont’s innovation centers bring it closer to customers

Karen Weining, Global Innovation Excellence Leader at DuPont, explains how the pioneering materials company has been collaborating with customers at its network of 12 innovation centers around the world.
See all Chemicals articles & case studies »

Why Suffolk’s Chief Innovation Officer is Investing in Virtual Reality

"Active visualization" has been a big emphasis for Suffolk Chief Innovation Officer Chris Mayer — creating new ways to envision projects in their finished state, whether using augmented or virtual reality technology. Mayer explains why the $2.9 billion construction company is betting big.

AECOM shares an innovation video it uses with new hires

How do you get new hires to contribute to a culture of innovation from Day One? Warwick Absolon of industrial giant AECOM shares a video the $8.2 billion company produced as part of orientation for new employees in its Australia and New Zealand division.
See all Construction articles & case studies »

Setting Up the Innovation ‘Shop’: Former Starbucks VP Shares Her Advice

Former Darden Restaurants and Starbucks exec Rachel Antalek says that getting started was the hardest part of responding to the ambiguous instruction to “set up a disruptive innovation team.” She shares the advice she wishes she'd gotten at the outset...

Advice from American Greetings VP: How creatives and the business side can get along

Many people think of American Greetings as a purveyor of greeting cards and party goods, but as Carol Miller describes it, the privately-held company is in the “meaningful connections” business, helping people make connections with family and friends. On a recent IL Live conference call, she shared her advice about building great teams that include both creatives and business-side employees.

How P&G has evolved its Clay Street innovation studio to have broader impact

Over the past decade, many of the ideas that had seemed novel when Procter & Gamble's Clay Street innovation studio first opened — like its giant Marimekko bean bags, circle conversations, and cell phone bans — have become mainstream and “really commonplace in the rest of P & G,” explains Karen Hershenson. “We want to make sure … that people don't feel they have to be at Clay Street to be innovative, that they can be innovative anywhere. So that’s been our goal as we evolve.” Photos and diagram inside...

How science and trends drive innovation at pet foods giant Nestlé Purina

"We really take a long and wide view when we look at innovation," says Nina Leigh Krueger, President and CMO. "That includes everything from products to processes to package design." Krueger and VP of Research and Development Dan Smith offered Innovation Leader a look at how the pet food giant created a hit new product, and how human eating and shopping trends impact its business.

‘Pitch, Pilot, Partner’: How the Unilever Foundry works with startups

Consumer packaged goods giant Unilever has launched more than 90 pilots with 90 different startups, and subsequently decided to scale about half of those. Jeremy Basset of Unilever Foundry explains how and why they're doing it...

Examples: How companies are using Indiegogo to assess consumer demand

Indiegogo SVP Jerry Needel explains how companies like GE and Hasbro have been using crowdfunding as a way to gauge consumer demand for new products — or engage collaborators in new ways. Needel also shares his advice. "We always counsel people to be authentic: who they are, what they’re trying to accomplish, and where they’re coming from," he says.
See all Consumer Packaged Goods articles & case studies »

How the labs group at publisher Houghton Mifflin is building an ecosystem of developers and partners

Can Houghton Mifflin Harcourt remake itself into a digital platform, distributing content, software, and cloud-based services to schools? That's a big focus at HMH Labs, a group created in 2014. Labs chief Claudia Reuter explains how she has been building relationships with startups and software developers.

Harvard’s Chief Digital Officer on being relevant in the digital world

Perry Hewitt joined Harvard University in 2009 as the institution's first Chief Digital Officer. The mission, as she describes it, was to help the university “be relevant and relatable in the digital world.” Though Facebook had been founded in a Harvard dorm room five years prior, for example, the school didn't yet have an official Facebook page when Hewitt took the position. Here's her advice for others in similar situations...

How publisher Pearson gets close to education startups

"Education is changing — there's no denying that," says Diana Stepner, VP of Innovation Partnerships at Pearson plc. Here's what the British publishing company is doing to connect with tech startups that may help Pearson develop new products — and new kinds of connections with consumers. Also inside: the list of 10 company challenges that Pearson shared with startups.

Hacking away at hierarchies: Lessons from Houghton Mifflin

Mary Cullinane, Chief Content Officer and EVP of Corporate Affairs at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, talks about breaking down walls between print and digital products, hacking away at hierarchies, and renewing the company’s focus on the customer.
See all Education articles & case studies »

How GE Fuse is Prototyping New Solutions, with Help from an Online Community

“The concept [of Fuse] is around sourcing different problems from GE customers and then working with an online community to solve those problems,” says Amelia Gandara, the Community Leader for GE Fuse. Here's how they do it...

Creating an environment for innovators at India’s $43 billion Reliance Industries

"Some organizations think that putting processes of innovation in place will ensure a culture of innovation," says Sushil Borde, VP of Innovation at Reliance. "But they don't focus on creating the environment or fostering innovative talent, and that's where they fail." We spoke with Borde to learn more about how the company is working to institutionalize innovation, the innovation programs he’s helped to create, and the five tenets that guide innovation at Reliance.

How NRG Energy’s portable power kiosks made it from concept to the Super Bowl

NRG Go’s automated kiosks rent out fully-charged battery packs at places like nightclubs, concert venues, and shopping malls so that people can recharge their phones and tablets — without hunting for an outlet and plopping down next to it for an hour or so. Senior Manager Stacey Butler discusses how the kiosks went from concept to launch in less than 18 months.

How ExxonMobil IT started a grassroots innovation program that’s changing company culture

Christopher Bailey, #innovation catalyst and IT leader at ExxonMobil, discusses the challenges of operationally-focused innovation and details how ExxonMobil has promoted innovation from the ground up through the #innovation initiative and their Grassroots Innovation Forum. Includes 30 minutes of audio.

Audio: Shell and Thales execs on setting up innovation outposts, gauging impact

Executives from Shell TechWorks and the Thales xPlor initiative joined Innovation Leader editor Scott Kirsner earlier this year to talk about what they hope to accomplish with the innovation labs they've set up in the Boston area, and how they're being measured. Here's the audio and slides.

Treating projects like startups and keeping senior leaders in the loop at Johnson Controls

New projects at the company pass through three stage-gates: pursuit, realization, and commercialization. Johnson Controls' Chief Marketing Officer and Vice President for Global Innovation explain how projects are funded, and how they work with senior leadership to make decisions about their fate.
See all Energy & Utilities articles & case studies »

How Siemens is finding the best startups and sparking collaborations

When the $86 billion German engineering giant launched the Frontier Partner Program two years ago, it hoped to lower the barriers that kept startups from easily working with Siemens. Through Frontier, startups enter a low-commitment relationship in exchange for free Siemens software and mentorship. While the program is still in its infancy, Siemens seems pleased with the preliminary results of these relationships, and other companies are starting to take notice. Here's how the program operates...

Powering innovation within Rolls-Royce’s engineering-centric culture

The $20 billion British company employs more than 18,000 engineers, and thinks about new technologies along a twenty-year timespan. Head of Innovation Hardev Ubhi discusses how Rolls-Royce is working to bring new tools and new thinking into an organization that is understandably obsessed with safety, precision, and quality. Includes slides...

AECOM shares an innovation video it uses with new hires

How do you get new hires to contribute to a culture of innovation from Day One? Warwick Absolon of industrial giant AECOM shares a video the $8.2 billion company produced as part of orientation for new employees in its Australia and New Zealand division.
See all Engineering articles & case studies »

Video: Advice on Starting a Corporate Innovation Lab

With seven labs across the globe, Thomson Reuters has a larger network of innovation labs than most companies. Mona Vernon, Chief Technology Officer of Thomson Reuters Labs, discusses goals, people, governance, and the relationship between the lab and the core business. Vernon also touches on the question of where to locate an innovation lab.

Video: Five Major Trends Changing Pro Sports

Isaiah Kacyvenski is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of the Sports Innovation Lab in Boston. A former linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks and wearable technology entrepreneur, he now works to identify and evaluate new technologies that will influence the future of sports — from the sidelines to the stands to the television set (or mobile device.) In this short video interview, Kacyvenski discusses five major trends he sees impacting the future of sports, including "smart venue," eSports, and "quantified athlete," or measuring all kind of dimensions of performance using new sensors and wearables.

Audio: Advice from Piaggio, Eastern Bank, Thomson Reuters, Autodesk, and Blue Cross Blue Shield

Go where the love is... get others running experiments...and make sure you know how to pull a rabbit out of a hat. (But don't do it over and over.) Tips and insights that senior innovation execs shared at a recent gathering in Boston.

Why the Los Angeles Dodgers are Running a ‘Training Camp’ for Sports Startups

Professional baseball franchises excel at scouting promising players and cultivating them in the minor leagues until they're ready for the big show. But the Los Angeles Dodgers are unique in trying to do the same thing for startups working on sports and media related ideas. We sat down with Tucker Kain, CFO of the Dodgers, to understand how the accelerator was started, and how he is forming lasting partnerships with the startups.

Pro tips from the NFL on mobile app development

Working on a tight schedule to develop apps for NFL Media, Jazz Singh, director of product, mobile and connected, says he uses an agile development approach to get everything ready in time for the big game. Here are some of his tips on simplicity, scrums, and setting priorities.

At the Philadelphia 76ers new innovation lab, offering hands-on help to startups

The new lab is open to hosting all kinds early-stage consumer product companies and some B2B concepts — not just sports or fitness-related startups. “The sports category, although it's really big, is pretty limiting,” says Managing Director Seth Berger. “The Sixers' network is so broad across so many different industries — to limit ourselves to sports didn't make sense.”
See all Entertainment & Media articles & case studies »

Video: Advice on Starting a Corporate Innovation Lab

With seven labs across the globe, Thomson Reuters has a larger network of innovation labs than most companies. Mona Vernon, Chief Technology Officer of Thomson Reuters Labs, discusses goals, people, governance, and the relationship between the lab and the core business. Vernon also touches on the question of where to locate an innovation lab.

Spinning Out Isn’t Simple: The Inside Story of How Eastern Bank Launched a Lending Startup

Plenty of big companies working on new business ideas talk about the potential for spinning them out. But few actually follow through and do it. Here's the inside story of how it happened at Eastern Bank, the largest and oldest mutual bank in the US.

Audio: Advice from Piaggio, Eastern Bank, Thomson Reuters, Autodesk, and Blue Cross Blue Shield

Go where the love is... get others running experiments...and make sure you know how to pull a rabbit out of a hat. (But don't do it over and over.) Tips and insights that senior innovation execs shared at a recent gathering in Boston.

Don’t Build an Innovation Ivory Tower: Advice from Manulife exec Jesse Bean on Delivering Impact

Bean is the Chief Experience Officer and Head of Innovation for Global Solutions Delivery at Manulife Financial, the $53.3 billion financial services group that operates as John Hancock in the US. He shares his advice about setting up a network of labs, building support among middle management, and the "DevOps" approach to bringing software development closer to IT operations folks. Includes downloadable audio...

Webcast Replay: Creating a Curriculum to Develop Innovation Leaders

Led by Stephanie Simon, the hour-long webcast covered the training program's objectives, timeline, staffing, skills taught, external resources used, and the learnings so far. Watch the replay...

Webcast Replay: New Tools & Resources for Innovation Leaders

Recording of our May 2017 webcast, featuring Scott Kirsner and Aaron Proietti explaining how to use six of our new downloadable resources, and answering questions. Resources include progress report templates, PDF roadmaps, and RASCI matrices.
See all Financial Services articles & case studies »

Setting Up the Innovation ‘Shop’: Former Starbucks VP Shares Her Advice

Former Darden Restaurants and Starbucks exec Rachel Antalek says that getting started was the hardest part of responding to the ambiguous instruction to “set up a disruptive innovation team.” She shares the advice she wishes she'd gotten at the outset...

Dunkin’ Brands: How a Business ‘Built on Ritual’ is Getting More Digital

Chief Digital Officer Scott Hudler tells us that in 2017, "the innovation piece of our business is becoming more and more important to us, because we’re fighting some incredibly well-capitalized competitors in McDonald’s and Starbucks. If the analogy is ‘Moneyball,’ then we’re the Oakland A’s." Hudler discusses kiosks, intelligent virtual assistants, delivery, and driving app downloads...

How Mehmood Khan is Remaking R&D at PepsiCo, with an Emphasis on Sustainability

We talk with PepsiCo vice chairman Mehmood Khan about the links between sustainability and innovation; why diversity isn’t only about hiring people who look different; bringing in new skill sets into R&D, like computer modeling; the challenge of measuring progress; and how he’s trying to change thinking in the company’s 30 R&D locations.

Dennis McGrath on How Starbucks Tests New Ideas in the Real World

Dennis McGrath, VP of Global Ops Innovation at Starbucks, explains how the coffee retailer developed a new protocol for testing ideas in small numbers of stores. McGrath also discusses when to bring in other business stakeholders, the failure-tolerant culture at Starbucks, and a new store format. Includes 30 minutes of downloadable audio...

Designing For Women — Advice From PepsiCo

PepsiCo Director of Global Design Innovation Erica Eden explained some of her principles of “Designing for Women” at the Front End of Innovation conference recently, touching on topics such as where women’s brands go wrong; how men’s brands aren't afraid to create "tribes"; and the steps companies should take to better understand and appeal to their women consumers. Her advice inside...

Inside Target’s Food + Future coLab

The idea behind the creation of the coLAB, as founder Greg Shewmaker explains it, is that “we know less about our food than we ever have at any other time in history. We want to do something about it. I don’t want to go sell more Greek yogurt or healthy products. I want to go do something big, and fix some big problems.” Photo gallery inside...
See all Food & Beverage articles & case studies »

Book excerpt: When rewarding innovators, do medals work best — or money?

Motivating and rewarding innovators is one of those topics that comes up frequently at Innovation Leader's live events, in interviews, and in our regular conference calls with innovation execs. Innovation psychologist Dr. Amantha Imber addresses that topic in her new book "The Innovation Formula: The 14 Science-Based Keys for Creating a Culture Where Innovation Thrives." We've got an excerpt.

Government exec on quick hits and innovating procurement

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts' first Government Innovation Officer talks about the importance of quick hits; implementing a crowdsourcing initiative; and sponsoring competitions to diversify the pool of new vendors available to state government. Includes video and an annual report...

Mike Powell: Doing innovation as ‘just one guy’

The State of Maryland's Chief Innovation Officer talks about catching criminals, reducing hospital admissions among "frequent fliers," and hackathons to help the environment. And how he makes innovation happen in the state with limited resources and plenty of partners.
See all Government articles & case studies »

Slides: How One Company Thinks About Innovation Structures, Investment Levels, Timeframes

Two slides lay out the way David Crean of Anthem's Innovation Studio views the different innovation options, or "flavors of innovation," that a company might pursue. Each one has different levels of risk, different funding requirements, and different potential outcomes.

Video: Healthcare Exec Robin Glasco on ‘Going Where the Love Is’

Robin Glasco of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts says that in business school, you're taught to focus on areas with the biggest problems and toughest challenges. For internal innovation groups like hers, though, that isn't always the smartest first move.

Vertex CEO on Innovation: The Challenge is Avoiding Complacency

Vertex's CEO talks about the importance of investing in R&D — and the three pitfalls for companies that have attained success in the marketplace, including complacency.

XTuit CEO Deborah Dunsire: ‘Connect Scientists with the Outside World’

"Making sure that the scientists are connected to the external world is just so critical, to refresh and challenge their thinking," says XTuit CEO Deborah Dunsire. More insights from Dunsire, who contributed to our "CEOs on Innovation" report in the Fall 2017 issue of Innovation Leader magazine.

athenahealth CEO on Innovation: ‘Make It Clear How You’ll Change the World’

"Healthcare is unique when it comes to innovation," says athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush. "With all the billions of dollars invested into purchasing, building, and upgrading technology, we are still living in a world where patients carry around physical records, providers struggle to get paid, and treasure troves of data are inaccessible." Bush discusses what his company is doing to change that, and how they partner with startups through an initiative called "More Disruption Please."

At Medtronic’s Applied Innovation Lab, Working Closely with Business Units and Going Global

The Applied Innovation Lab opened its doors in September 2015, with a goal of helping Medtronic evolve from being simply a maker of medical devices like pacemakers and stents to one that is thinking more broadly about improving health and patient outcomes. In the two years since it opened, there has hardly been a quiet moment at the lab — and there has been so much demand from different groups in the company the team has had to create screening criteria for what they will work on. Brian Bechard explains...
See all Healthcare articles & case studies »

Inside Marriott’s M Beta, a Real-World Hotel Designed for Testing New Concepts

Guests who check into Marriott's M Beta hotel in Charlotte, originally built in 1984 but revamped last year, are immersed in an environment where nearly everything is experimental, and intended to gather feedback. Here's a look inside...

Marriott CEO on Innovation: ‘Don’t Try to Failure-Proof New Ideas’

Marriott CEO Arne Sorensen talks about hotels as "living labs," and how he encourages the organization to conduct more experiments. From our "CEOs on Innovation" report in the Fall 2017 issue of Innovation Leader magazine.

‘Vapor to paper to brick’: Universal Orlando exec on deploying tech to theme parks

Talking about ideas is great — but it's just vapor. Universal Orlando exec Al Callier explains how his team takes ideas from "vapor to paper to brick," and what new technology they're exploring now.

Marriott Exec: How we Prototype, Crowdsource, Measure

Marriott executive Brian King talks to Innovation Leader members about rapid prototyping, collecting ideas from employees and customers, and why naivete is crucial to innovation. Includes highlights and audio from our latest Innovation Leader Live call...

Lessons from Marriott on rapid prototyping and co-creation

We recently sat down with the Global Brand Officer of Marriott International to discuss how innovation works at the $12.8 billion hospitality company. Inside, Brian King takes you into “The Underground,” Marriott’s innovation lab, to see how rapid-prototyping works there, and offers lessons for replicating the process.
See all Hospitality articles & case studies »

Slides: How One Company Thinks About Innovation Structures, Investment Levels, Timeframes

Two slides lay out the way David Crean of Anthem's Innovation Studio views the different innovation options, or "flavors of innovation," that a company might pursue. Each one has different levels of risk, different funding requirements, and different potential outcomes.

Video: Healthcare Exec Robin Glasco on ‘Going Where the Love Is’

Robin Glasco of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts says that in business school, you're taught to focus on areas with the biggest problems and toughest challenges. For internal innovation groups like hers, though, that isn't always the smartest first move.

How MetLife Asia is Building New Ventures and Finding Startups Focused on Its Challenges

The entire insurance industry, argues Zia Zaman, has "lost its way by not focusing on the customer." Here's how Zaman, the Chief Innovation Officer for MetLife Asia since 2014, is working to change the status quo.

Connecting corporate venture capital to the business at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

Tuoyo Louis has a very clear objective at Zaffre Investments, a corporate venture team that is part of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts: Finding healthcare startups that can solve a problem for someone in the insurance company’s ecosystem, whether that’s a patient, an employer, or an administrator sitting behind a doctor’s front desk. Louis explains how he works with business-side leaders inside Blue Cross Blue Shield to get pilot tests underway that leverage new technologies from the startups.

How Aon Health invites business leaders to help set the innovation agenda

Jim Winkler, Global Chief Innovation Officer at Aon Health, explains the meetings and process that his team uses to set the innovation agenda, and determine priorities, in collaboration with line of business executives.

InsurTech: Execs from AIG and John Hancock talk startups, sensors, more

How can insurance companies innovate effectively — in the face of strict regulatory oversight, customer concerns about privacy, and decades of ingrained thinking about "the way things are done"? Execs from AIG and John Hancock discussed those issues at a recent event. Includes profiles of startups working in the insurance sector.
See all Insurance articles & case studies »

What Open Innovation Impact Looks Like at Electrolux

Lucia Chierchia is the Open Innovation Director at Electrolux Group’s Global Technology Center in Bologna, Italy. She spoke with Innovation Leader recently about how she seeks out the "hidden innovators" who may be developing relevant technologies, but aren't active in your industry sector, the "ambassadors" program she launched, and more. Includes slides...

Engagement, Conversion, and Integration: Lessons from Whirlpool Corporation’s Internal Hackathons

One company that has been working hard to get hackathons to generate real value is Whirlpool Corporation, the $21 billion appliance manufacturer based in Benton Harbor, Mich. And a big part of how they've been doing it, explains Subho Moulik, Head of Global Innovation, is through persistence, learning, and continual improvement. He explains what they've learned so far...

Photos: Inside W. L. Gore’s Silicon Valley Innovation Center

“Gore is well known for internal innovation, and we’re increasing our focus on external innovation,” says Linda Elkins, a veteran of Gore’s R&D organization and leader of the company’s new Silicon Valley Innovation Center. Elkins gave Innovation Leader contributing photographer Cayce Clifford a look at the center in July.

At Medtronic’s Applied Innovation Lab, Working Closely with Business Units and Going Global

The Applied Innovation Lab opened its doors in September 2015, with a goal of helping Medtronic evolve from being simply a maker of medical devices like pacemakers and stents to one that is thinking more broadly about improving health and patient outcomes. In the two years since it opened, there has hardly been a quiet moment at the lab — and there has been so much demand from different groups in the company the team has had to create screening criteria for what they will work on. Brian Bechard explains...

Audio: Advice from Piaggio, Eastern Bank, Thomson Reuters, Autodesk, and Blue Cross Blue Shield

Go where the love is... get others running experiments...and make sure you know how to pull a rabbit out of a hat. (But don't do it over and over.) Tips and insights that senior innovation execs shared at a recent gathering in Boston.

Creating Iconic Advantage: Soon Yu Talks Innovation at VF Corp, Changes in Retail

Creating an iconic brand — like Apple, BMW, or Nike — requires more than great design and technological breakthroughs. According to Soon Yu, the former Global VP of Innovation at VF Corporation, when something is iconic, it has three simple qualities: Distinction, relevance, and universal recognition. More from Yu in this live call replay, with audio and transcript inside...
See all Manufacturing articles & case studies »

Inside the ‘Near-Future Sensing Team’ at UNICEF

As part of the United Nations, UNICEF works to provide resources to the world's most marginalized children. The organization was started 70 years ago, and now employs 12,000 people in 190 countries. But it wasn’t until 2007 when Fabian and Erica Kochi, who is now in charge of private sector partnerships at UNICEF, founded the organization's Innovation Unit. We spoke with Fabian about innovation at UNICEF and how the venture fund operates.

Photos: Inside the Hatchery, the innovation lab at AARP

As part of our next Field Study learning expedition, we'll visit the Hatchery, the innovation lab at AARP. AARP is not only one of the largest nonprofits in the country, but it's also one of the biggest insurers and magazine publishers. We talked about what happens inside the Hatchery with Andy Miller, the SVP for Innovation and Product Development at AARP.

How the Sierra Club is broadening its digital reach

In his first five years at the Sierra Club, Chris Thomas has advocated for building new digital platforms and introduced a start-up-like culture of testing and experimentation.

Setting innovation goals at the American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society's new Managing Director of Product Innovation talks about building an innovation team, setting goals, and collaborating within a large non-profit. Includes slides...

Naomi Fried: My 3 highest-impact programs

Three years into the job, Naomi Fried, the Chief Innovation Officer at one of the world's top pediatric medical centers, reflects on the three initiatives that have moved the needle most. Fried also offers a look at her annual innovation progress report.
See all Non-Profit articles & case studies »

How Do You Increase Your Odds of Success? Five Tips for Innovation Leaders

“Not a single one of your employees is going to sign on to be an intrapraneur if career failure inevitably follows idea failure," writes Renee Dye, the former Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer at Navigant Consulting. Dye shares five keys to success, useful for new and more established innovation leaders.

Webcast Replay: Innovation and the Business Units

Innovation Leader editor Scott Kirsner shares some of the high-level data from our recent survey and research report on the ties between business units and innovation or R&D groups. He's joined by executives from Fidelity Investments, Aon Health, GOJO Industries, and Trek Bicycle, who share their perspectives. 45 minutes of video and slides...

How Aon Health invites business leaders to help set the innovation agenda

Jim Winkler, Global Chief Innovation Officer at Aon Health, explains the meetings and process that his team uses to set the innovation agenda, and determine priorities, in collaboration with line of business executives.

How EY launched an innovation program inside a professional services firm

One big challenge, according to Jeff Saviano, who runs innovation inside EY's tax practice for the Americas: "Making sure that we’re not just asking people to spend time on nights and weekends to build something new, [and] move us in a new direction." He explains how they've been working to overcome that. Includes 30 minutes of audio...

How $6B real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle built a revenue engine  

Innovation VP Alec Humphries discusses how his group inside the commercial real estate firm has begun generating millions in revenue within five years of its creation.

How PwC turns “corporate antibodies” into allies: Five tactics to try

Every company has antibodies — they’re the gatekeepers who are actually healthy and necessary guardians of the enterprise. “Companies need these gatekeepers to minimize risk,” says Best, “but we’ve learned the same gatekeepers can actually accelerate innovation if included in the process, or slow innovation if they’re not.” She outlines five tactics that she’s used to engage these corporate antibodies in a productive way.
See all Professional Services articles & case studies »

Setting Up the Innovation ‘Shop’: Former Starbucks VP Shares Her Advice

Former Darden Restaurants and Starbucks exec Rachel Antalek says that getting started was the hardest part of responding to the ambiguous instruction to “set up a disruptive innovation team.” She shares the advice she wishes she'd gotten at the outset...

XRC Labs Founder on How Retailers Can Position Themselves for the Future

Pano Anthos of the retail accelerator XRC Labs discusses five roles that the store can play in the future — and the importance of trends like on-demand manufacturing, augmented reality, and text messaging.

Dunkin’ Brands: How a Business ‘Built on Ritual’ is Getting More Digital

Chief Digital Officer Scott Hudler tells us that in 2017, "the innovation piece of our business is becoming more and more important to us, because we’re fighting some incredibly well-capitalized competitors in McDonald’s and Starbucks. If the analogy is ‘Moneyball,’ then we’re the Oakland A’s." Hudler discusses kiosks, intelligent virtual assistants, delivery, and driving app downloads...

Former Crate & Barrel CEO on Innovation: ‘Bring Down the Hurdle for Experiments’

Former Crate & Barrel CEO Sascha Bopp talks about the CEO's mindset when it comes to experiments: "Are you able to fake it before you make it? Is there a way to bring the hurdle for trying something down, so you can make a decision even though you don’t know whether it’s right or not?" Bopp also shares his take on motivating employees to innovate.

Staples CEO on Innovation: ‘Let the Best Opportunities Rise to the Surface’

"There are a lot of great ideas out there," says Staples CEO Shira Goodman. "But as a company, we need to focus on a few to get scale, and then utilize the advantages of that scale. More from Goodman inside...

Former Lululemon Strategy Manager on Changing Consumer Motivations and Retail Disruption

“I think retail is going through a really interesting time right now," Lindsay Angelo said in a recent conversation. "Certainly as a more established brand, there are a lot of headwinds out there. But think about how you can take advantage of that turbulence internally." Angelo shares her take, and several slides...
See all Retail articles & case studies »

UPS CEO on Innovation: ‘Stay Grounded in Core Values, But Focus on the Future’

An interview with UPS CEO David Abney, from our "CEOs on Innovation" report in the Fall 2017 issue of Innovation Leader magazine.

FedEx innovation exec shares slides, story behind SenseAware service

A FedEx innovation team has been at the center of building businesses that leverage "Internet of Things" technologies. The first is called SenseAware, and it allows FedEx customers to know about the temperature, light exposure, and humidity of a package in transit — not to mention its precise location and whether or not it has been opened.
See all Shipping articles & case studies »

Draper CEO on Innovation: ‘Three Keys to Breakthrough Innovation’

"I don't want to encourage failure," says Ken Gabriel, CEO of the $600 million non-profit R&D organization Draper. "I want to encourage people not to fear failure." Gabriel also talks about the CEOs role in helping knock down obstacles to innovation, and why less-frequent project updates are a good thing...

Google Leaders on Innovation: ‘When You’re Trying to Achieve Big Things, You Will Sometimes Fail’

An interview with Google leaders Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg, from our "CEOs on Innovation" report in the Fall 2017 issue of Innovation Leader magazine.

Video Lab Tour: Inside Verizon’s ‘Window Into Innovation’

Tim Gorman, Associate Director of the Verizon Innovation Program, explains the objectives of the company's innovation centers in San Francisco and the Boston suburbs, and offers a demo of an augmented reality solution for "smart cities."

Video: Autodesk’s Rick Rundell on Getting an Innovation Program Started

Autodesk Technology & Innovation Strategist Rick Rundell talks about starting an innovation initiative at the software company.

Audio: Advice from Piaggio, Eastern Bank, Thomson Reuters, Autodesk, and Blue Cross Blue Shield

Go where the love is... get others running experiments...and make sure you know how to pull a rabbit out of a hat. (But don't do it over and over.) Tips and insights that senior innovation execs shared at a recent gathering in Boston.

How a Team at Intel Tackled a Big Challenge: Transforming Hiring and Work Habits

Jennifer Monnig spent the past three years leading an innovation team within the HR organization at Intel Corp. that sought to create a healthier and more collaborative culture, focused on getting things done in new ways. In 2017, that team has moved on to other projects, but much of its output has become integrated into the way that Intel operates today. "Some experiments lasted no longer than the experiment itself," Monnig says, "but we've learned from everything." She wrote this piece for Innovation Leader to capture some of those learnings.
See all Technology articles & case studies »

Video Lab Tour: Inside Verizon’s ‘Window Into Innovation’

Tim Gorman, Associate Director of the Verizon Innovation Program, explains the objectives of the company's innovation centers in San Francisco and the Boston suburbs, and offers a demo of an augmented reality solution for "smart cities."

Why “Gretzky’s Rule” Represents the Past – Not the Future – of Product Innovation

Most people operate in a market where outcomes are not so predictable; where the environment shifts on you regularly; or where you face newly-formed competitors that disrupt your entire business. Ericsson executive Ken Durand offers his advice...

Deep dive: How the innovation champions program works at telecom giant Vodafone

Vodafone's Jerry Spann and Ashoka's Sarah Jefferson lay out the key design principles for Vodafone's global innovation champions program, as well as the benefits of the approach for the company, its customers, and its employees. Today, a network that started out with just eight champions has grown to over 70 champions and "Innovation Agents."

At Ericsson, using the lean startup approach to validate and prioritize new ideas

"We have way more ideas than we can possibly implement," says Ken Durand, the head of Ericsson's Atlanta Idea Factory, "so one of the reasons that we’ve really focused on the lean methodologies was because we need a way to evaluate whether an idea was worth doing." Durand shares slides, advice, and an example project inside...

Why India’s Tata Communications sends employees to Silicon Valley for ‘immersion week’

"We want to show people that there are different ways of growing a business, defining customer problems, and becoming more customer-centric," says Alex Pelletier, Head of Innovation at $3 billion Tata Communications, part of India's Tata Group. "In the old telco world, that is historically not so true." Pelletier explains how his company's Shape the Future program works, and shares slides...

How Telefónica is using lean startup — without risking reputation or reliability

The Spanish telecom company, with 123,000 employees around the world, has been embracing the lean startup practices made famous by author and entrepreneur Eric Ries — quickly building prototypes of new ideas developed in conjunction with customers, iterating fast to refine those prototypes, and speedily killing projects that don’t pan out. Here's how they make it work in an organization obsessed with reliability...
See all Telecommunications articles & case studies »

In San Diego, Transforming an Unused Airport Terminal into an Innovation Lab

“What we've done with the innovation lab is say, 'Maybe there are other ways to create an experience for our passengers that also helps to increase and create different streams of revenue,'” says Rick Belliotti, the San Diego International Airport’s Director of Innovation and Small Business Development. Innovation Leader sat down with Belliotti to discuss the lab’s approach to creating partnerships, how the airport innovates in a regulated environment, and what it really takes to make airports better for travelers.

How Delta Air Lines is Prioritizing Innovation in an Operationally-Intensive Culture

It's hard to think of a more complicated, operationally-intensive business than air transport. It’s regulated and overseen by a federal agency. Customers expect on-time arrivals, food, and frequent flier miles—and increasingly, in-flight wifi. And every new plane you add to the fleet can cost $75 million or more, and needs to be inspected regularly. In that environment, what role does innovation play? That’s the very big question that Matt Muta, VP of Innovation and Operations Technology at Delta Air Lines, has been responsible for answering since March 2014, when he joined the company from Microsoft. Our interview inside...

How BMW’s corporate venture capital strategy is changing

Last November, five years after starting a corporate venture capital group, carmaker BMW announced that it would invest up to 500 million Euros over the next decade, across a broad swath of the tech landscape, from 3D printing to on-demand transportation to smart logistics. BMW also moved its US office from New York to Silicon Valley, and accelerated the decision-making process for making new investments. We spoke to Managing Director Ulrich Quay to understand what's behind all of the changes.

At Honda’s Silicon Valley Lab, riding shotgun with Google, Apple, Visa, and others

While it began life as an R&D outpost in 2000, and later added a venture capital team, Honda's Silicon Valley site is now a full-fledged innovation hub for the company, overseeing a range of important partnerships and startup interactions. Nick Sugimoto explains how it's set up.

Audio: Shell and Thales execs on setting up innovation outposts, gauging impact

Executives from Shell TechWorks and the Thales xPlor initiative joined Innovation Leader editor Scott Kirsner earlier this year to talk about what they hope to accomplish with the innovation labs they've set up in the Boston area, and how they're being measured. Here's the audio and slides.

Airbus exec on co-innovation and seizing opportunities outside the airplane

Markus Durstewitz, head of innovation methods and tools for Airbus Group, talks about how the $67 billion manufacturer is working with suppliers, passengers, and pilots to make air travel more efficient. Includes slides...
See all Transportation articles & case studies »