Articles by Industry

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...

How Thales Group is chasing growth with new xPlor initiative

Pete Roney, VP of Innovation at Thales USA, the American arm of the $17 billion French aerospace and defense giant Thales Group, says that the rationale for launching a new innovation effort was pretty clear: The company just wasn't thinking creatively enough to keep up with its peer group.
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 »

‘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.

Gap exec on innovation training, co-creation, customer insights

Gap Inc.'s Dean of Global Innovation talks about creativity, co-creation, the Mindspark training initiative,  and the importance of solving small problems first. Includes slides and 30 minutes of audio from a recent call.

How many people wield the ‘power of no’ at your company?

Stuart Jenkins, SVP of Innovation and Product Development at $1.5 billion footwear company Deckers Outdoor, says it's near-impossible to innovate if any one person can shoot down a good idea. Jenkins also talks about driving innovation when you don't have an R&D group, and his approach to keeping division heads up-to-date on progress.
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 »

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.

General Mills innovation EVP on becoming ‘best big small company’

Peter Erickson, executive vice president of Innovation, Technology, and Quality for General Mills, is focused on a very clear goal: to help the company, with 43,000 emloyees and brands like Cheerios, Nature Valley, and Betty Crocker, become “the best big small food company in the world.” Here's our exclusive interview on how he's doing it...
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 »

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.”

How ESPN is using data to call the plays

George Leimer, VP of Fantasy Sports and Premium Products at ESPN, discusses how the sports network is working to build a data and metrics-oriented culture, enabling analysis to replace hunches when it comes to developing and refining new products and services.

How Viacom is using lean startup and agile development to keep viewers engaged

Kimberly Hicks, Viacom’s vice president for user platform product management, says that in an arena where people’s media consumption behaviors and the devices they use are changing so quickly, the lean startup approach is extremely helpful. “We can’t just get a requirement, walk away and come back in six months, because the world’s changed,” she says.

How the Catalyst Fund for new ideas works at Thomson Reuters

Thomson Reuters has come to the realization that building proof-of-concepts and prototypes can require significant funding. The $13 billion media and information company created an internal seed fund called the Catalyst Fund in January 2014, overseen by CEO Jim Smith and Katherine Manuel, the Senior Vice President for Innovation. It provides up to $350,000 in funding to build and test prototypes. Here's how it works...
See all Entertainment & Media articles & case studies »

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.

After the ‘Shark Tank’ event: How BNY Mellon is Broadening Innovation Impact

Adetola Abiade, Director of Global Innovation for the Americas at BNY Mellon, explains the nuts-and-bolts of how the oldest bank in the U.S. runs its internal "Shark Tank" event, as well as how her team is using coaching, incentives, podcasts, and metrics to extend the event's impact.

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...

Photos: Inside MasterCard Labs in New York City

Photos from MasterCard's NYC Tech Hub, opened in October 2014.

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 Financial Services articles & case studies »

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...

Coca-Cola shutters its Founders initiative, which backed fledgling startups

Coca-Cola has shut down its Founders program, which sought to work with entrepreneurs and invest in startups that would benefit the beverage giant in some way. The initiative was launched in 2013, and since then has backed eight companies. One possible cause? A back-to-basics focus on the core business.

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.

Inside the ‘AnyWare’ digital strategy at Domino’s Pizza

Betting big on digital has been very good for Domino’s Pizza, the nation’s second largest pizza chain by sales and locations, after Pizza Hut. In its latest quarterly earnings report, the Ann Arbor, Michigan company said same-store sales grew by 10.7 percent at its domestic franchise locations. Chief Digital Officer Dennis Maloney explains how they've been doing it...

How Weight Watchers is innovating in a relationship-based business

Global Vice President of Innovation Dondeena Bradley talks about driving multiple new initiatives aimed at transforming Weight Watchers into a holistic, community-driven company.
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 »

Inside J&J’s New Initiative to ‘Intercept’ Diseases

The pharmaceutical industry typically develops new drugs to help manage diseases.  But a new project inside Johnson & Johnson posits a different model: what if you could identify people at risk of developing a disease, and create products to stave it off? Ben Wiegand, head of the Disease Interception Accelerator, explains what they're up to.

Getting leadership buy-in, ‘no time syndrome,’ and premature scaling: Stories from Humana, GE, Intuit

Why do employees and executives in large organizations resist participating in innovation efforts? Sometimes it's about fear of failure, not having a safe environment to try new things, or no-time syndrome: "Oh, we don't have enough time to innovate." Downloadable audio and more insights inside...

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 business units get involved with J&J’s network of innovation centers

When J&J makes a new investment in a startup, "50 percent of the deal funding from J&J Innovation, and the business unit provides the other 50 percent," explains Darren Snellgrove, Chief Financial Officer for J&J Innovation. "We have found that both sides having skin in the game, and a say in the decision making is an important component of success." More insights inside...

Learnings and slides from Pfizer’s work to foster a culture of innovation

What happens if lots of divisions in a global company come up with their own approach to innovation? "If you don't have a common vernacular, if you don't have a common culture, if you don't have the same frame of reference," says Pfizer exec Dan Seewald, "then you lose the scalability and the impact of having one program, one mindset, and one social movement." Inside, details on the Pfizer "Dare to Try" innovation initiative, which Seewald oversees.

Cardinal Health SVP offers a look inside customer-focused Fuse lab

“When you come to Fuse, it’s all about the customers. It’s customer-in,” says Cardinal Health SVP and CTO Brent Stutz. Visiting employees and executives “leave their business unit affiliations and their badges behind.” Here's a look inside...
See all Healthcare articles & case studies »

‘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 »

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.

Achieving innovation balance: Advice from Cambia Health’s chief innovation officer

Five years after starting the innovation team at Cambia Health Solutions, a family of healthcare businesses in the Pacific Northwest, Chief Innovation Officer Mohan Nair shares what he has learned about different types of innovators — including some you may want to avoid — as well as delivering near-term and long-term impact.

Why insurance firm Assurant designed a strategy game for employees to play

Among the goals behind the company's Strategy Learning Game: helping employees understand the direction the company is going and “how they fit in,” and driving a cultural shift to urgency, adaptive thinking, agility, and accountability. SVP Melissa Kivett explains how it worked...

Humana’s Chief Innovation Officer: ‘Co-creation is the new way’

Chris Kay of Humana discusses how the $48 billion health insurer is collaborating and co-creating with startups in the healthcare industry, and outlines his process for going from ideation to market.
See all Insurance articles & case studies »

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...

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...

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...

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...

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.

Seeking startup partnerships and sustainable technologies at Saint-Gobain

Saint-Gobain, the Paris-based building materials company has thrived for more than 350 years. “There's an element within our DNA and within our R&D organization where we recognize that to be successful for another 350 years, which is our intent, we have to identify those things that are going to disrupt our current businesses,” says Minas Apelian, R&D and external venturing at Saint-Gobain. More insights inside on how the company works with startups and accelerators to innovate effectively.
See all Manufacturing articles & case studies »

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 »

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.

Marla Capozzi on discipline, metrics, and the perils of innovation committees

Among the topics we covered on a recent Innovation Leader Live call with Marla Capozzi of McKinsey & Co.'s Global Strategy & Innovation Practice:  Why an organization’s commitment to innovation shouldn’t wax and wane; the risk of innovation committees running off the rails; and why it’s vital to create new metrics for the pilot tests and experiments you run. Transcript and downloadable audio inside...
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‘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...

Staples CTO on chatbots, recruiting tech talent, retail shifts, and a smarter Easy Button

The future of retail, in Faisal Masud’s view, doesn’t force the customer to do anything the customer doesn’t want to do. That includes keeping shopping lists, poking around websites, getting into a car, or roaming the aisles of a store. It may even include placing an order, if intelligent software can accurately guess what the customer needs based on past purchasing patterns. Highlights and audio from our conversation...

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...

Retail Accelerator XRC Labs Spotlights Startups and Industry Shifts

The seven startups at XRC Labs’ 2017 Demo Day in New York represented the forefront of innovation in the retail space — from on-demand activewear manufacturing to indoor mapping services to artificially-intelligent visual search technology. In kicking off the demo day, XRC’s Managing Director Pano Anthos discussed some of the trends he is seeing in the retail space, and what retailers must do to stay relevant. Four of the trends he discussed are recapped inside, along with short descriptions of each of the presenting startups.

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.

Why Groupe Galeries Lafayette launched an accelerator for retail and fashion startups

"I was trying to shove innovation down their throat," says Edoardo Manitto of Groupe Galeries Lafayette, the 120-year old French retailer. "That, in my case, didn't lead to anything very productive." Here's what he's doing instead.
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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.
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How design thinking and lean startup are changing the way Adobe builds new products

Adobe exec Aubrey Cattell says that the lean startup approach – build, measure, learn, accelerate – has changed the way Adobe thinks about innovation.

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."

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...

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...

Audio: Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak on whether innovators need to ignore the rules

Posting some audio recorded recently at the Innovation by Design Summit in St. Louis. Innovation Leader editor Scott Kirsner sat down for a wide-ranging on-stage interview with Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple and a Silicon Valley legend.
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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...

How NTT Data has diversified innovation with global workshops

In 2014, Tokyo-based NTT Data held 11 workshops in cities like Phoenix, Toronto, Barcelona, and Beijing. This year, the IT services giant is planning another dozen, with a specific focus on disruptive digital innovations, according to Naureen Meraj, senior global director of digital engagement and social gamification for the company. She shares the inclusive approach they developed, along with several slides.
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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...

How Thales Group is chasing growth with new xPlor initiative

Pete Roney, VP of Innovation at Thales USA, the American arm of the $17 billion French aerospace and defense giant Thales Group, says that the rationale for launching a new innovation effort was pretty clear: The company just wasn't thinking creatively enough to keep up with its peer group.

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...
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