Articles & Case Studies by Industry


Four Ways Retailers are Combatting Disruption in 2019

At the National Retail Federation’s Big Show 2019, 16,000 retailers from 3,500 brands discussed how to vie for attention from customers that have access to thousands of options at their fingertips. Find out what big retail companies are working on in the age of Amazon to persist past disruption.

IL Master Class: Does Measurement Kill Innovation?

In our recent Master Class on innovation metrics, we explored topics including the difference between “activity metrics” and “impact metrics,” where to start, and how to evolve your measurement regime over time. The session was hosted by Mariko O’Neill, Managing Consultant at PA Consulting, with guest speakers Dan Seewald of Pfizer and Rick Waldron, formerly at Nike and Intel. Webcast replay inside…

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.

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.

Reebok VP Paul Litchfield on the inherent risks of innovation

Longtime Reebok executive Paul Litchfield discusses how he and his team work within the organization; the challenges of making innovation happen within a traditional annual planning cycle; experiments with wearable technologies; and why failure is unavoidable for innovation leaders. “Our job is actually to fail,” says Litchfield. Includes slides and 30-minute video…

Puma exec Louis Joseph: How we keep score on innovation

“If someone on the team is not a little uncomfortable,” says Global Director of Innovation and Strategy Louis Joseph, “then it’s probably a little too safe.” Inside, Joseph talks with Innovation Leader about how the $4 billion footwear and apparel company gauges innovation success.

Gap Inc.: Moving Ideas from ‘Fuzzy’ to ‘Fruition’

Dean of Global Innovation Michael Perman explains how Gap Inc. has trained about 250 employees to be innovators, through a program called Mindspark. But Perman also asserts that not everyone in large organizations is cut out to innovate: “Not everyone is built that way, anymore than everyone should be an accountant.” Perman also outlines Gap’s current innovation priorities. Includes audio.

Innovation metrics from the leading edge of lingerie

Chief Innovation Officer Nicolas Petitjean talks about DBApparel Group’s “extra light” structure for managing innovation, his budget, and the challenge of creating a true culture of innovation at a multi-national firm with 7,500 employees. “Innovation doesn’t necessarily mean an army of R&D engineers,” he says. “It comes from creativity throughout the company, and each organization is unique, so each company needs to figure out how best to access that creativity. “