Articles & Case Studies by Industry

Manufacturing

Video Lab Tour: Inside Stanley Black and Decker’s ‘Futures Innovation Factory’

One new initiative in the security division at Connecticut-based Stanley Black and Decker is its “Futures Innovation Factory,” which opened earlier this year in Boston. The 5,200 square-foot space, led by the Vice President of Breakthrough Innovation Spencer Maid, houses engineers working on new products like smarter security cameras, automated doors, and more. Maid gave us a tour of the space, and discussed its objectives…

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…

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.

How industrial giant ThyssenKrupp is remaking R&D for the era of the smart city

“The customer is one of the biggest innovation opportunities there is,” says Patrick Bass, CEO of the North American business for ThyssenKrupp. Bass’ vision of the future of R&D includes not just customers, but academic collaborations, gathering data from Internet-connected products, and innovating differently in different parts of the world.

How Sherwin-Williams uses open innovation to create breakthrough new products

Victoria Scarborough, the Program Director for Sherwin-Williams’ seven-person Global External Innovation Team, defines her team’s mission as identifying outside “technology that would move the innovation needle.” Inside, she explains how they work and shares several 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.

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.

Trek exec on trends, social media, and why a skunkworks didn’t work

Of a skunkworks R&D group set up separate from headquarters, Trek exec Chad Manuell says, “There was a gap in buy-in between when they developed a technology, and when one of the business units [said], “Hey, that technology is cool. Let’s put it on our product.” Listen to our half-hour conversation with Manuell or read the highlights…

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…

How IKEA is exploring the future of furniture, home design, and meatballs

To test ideas and prototype designs, the world’s biggest furniture company built a model apartment in southern Sweden. It invites local families to move into the apartment and document their experiences with the experimental furnishings. Includes slides…

Why tools giant Stanley formed a joint venture to tackle big data and IoT

Two key execs at Stanley Black and Decker and joint venture View Technologies explain a long-term bet on the growth of big data and the Internet of Things, and a concrete business proposition designed to work in the near-term.

How customer interactions guide innovation at toolmaker Snap-on

Chief Innovation Officer Bennett Brenton explains how the company gathers input from its franchisees and end-users to shape new products. Includes slides and audio…

How GE is using crowdfunding site to test demand for new products

The story of the Opal ice maker is an early case study of how a large organization leveraged crowdsourcing and crowdfunding to get a new concept in front of consumers fast.

How appliance-maker Jarden is testing new business models

Our October Innovation Leader Live call guest was Asoka Veeravagu, VP of Business Development for Transformational Innovation at Jarden Consumer Solutions. The Boca Raton, Fla. company owns brands like Mr. Coffee, Aerobed, and Sunbeam.

Lego Executive Chairman: To Innovate, Create a Separate Structure

Lego executive chairman and former CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp talks about Future Lab, a separate team the company set up to explore new avenues for growth.

How Elon Musk builds organizations that can achieve anything

We talk to Ashlee Vance, author of a new book about Musk, about how the founder of SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity hires people, battles bureaucracy, and dispatches problems fast.

General Electric exec shares details, slides on open innovation efforts

While many big companies still utter the words “open innovation” with trepidation, getting bogged down in discussions about who will own what, General Electric has been racing ahead. Dyan Finkhousen, the head of GE’s Open Innovation Center of Excellence, shares what the company has been doing and learning…

How MTD Products shepherded an impossible product to market

When he took over a new role as Vice President of Business Development in 2012, Roy Keating understood that he was being handed a big mission at Ohio-based MTD Products: to help the privately-held manufacturer accelerate its growth coming out of the recession. “We wanted to do more breakthrough technology, and launch things that were unique to the market — not keep playing a zero-sum, dog-eat-dog game with the competition,” Keating says.

How a startup partnership gave Kwikset a lead in smartlocks

Kwikset had been experimenting with various keyless entry products — but nothing clicked until the California company partnered with a startup to create the Kevo lock, which can be controlled with a smartphone and opened with a simple touch. Execs from Kwikset and Kevo take you inside the partnership…

Kennametal exec on innovation governance and ‘fast fail’ testing

Colin Tilzey, head of the Innovation Ventures Group at the $3 billion tool-maker, talks about the evolution of the innovation governance committee; looking for the cheapest way to test new ideas; and a new position he has created on his team.

Owens Corning shares slides on metrics, market intelligence

Owens Corning Director of Innovation Anne Bethereau shares several slides on how the company measures return-on-innovation, rewards high-performing teams, and brainstorms about new market opportunities using a new online tool.

Why GE created the new FirstBuild maker community

GE design executive Lou Lenzi explains how the company’s new co-creation initiative, launched this summer, is allowing GE to “take little bets and do things fast.” Includes video and slides from a recent presentation.

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.

What are Fidelity, Schlumberger, and others building for Glass?

Companies are experimenting with Glass apps for airline check-in personnel, oilfield workers, and assembly line workers. The hoped-for benefits are better service and more productivity — as well as a connection with early adopter tech consumers.

Inside Moen’s prototype-driven product development strategy

Moen’s SVP of Global Strategic Development describes the customer-focused innovation process behind a new line of motion-sensitive faucets. “With our prototypes,” says Mike Pickett, “if we’re not activating emotional excitement about the product, we’re probably not on the right track, and we’ll keep working.”

How Ingersoll Rand hires, trains, tests and prioritizes innovation

Listen to our recent “Innovation Leader Live” call with Michael Wynblatt, VP of Innovation & Emerging Technology at Ingersoll Rand, the $12.3 billion industrial giant. In the audio, Michael discuses the complexities of his role; how he creates and tests innovation hypotheses; training and capability-building; metrics; priorities; hiring and more.

GE’s chief marketing officer talks innovation, partnerships

Innovation Leader had ringside seats at a Harvard Business School event, where GE’s marketing chief Beth Comstock discussed the company’s views on crowdsourcing, the Internet of things, the lean startup movement, and more. Quick bullets from her presentation and the complete audio are inside.

VC the GE way; lessons from the firm’s upgraded strategy

GE chief executive Jeff Immelt called a meeting in 2012 to rethink the company’s investing strategy. The result was the creation of a new GE Ventures team headquartered in Silicon Valley that builds on past experiences — and mistakes. Managing director Noah Lewis explains what changed.

Two paths to innovation at Stanley Black & Decker

John Cunningham, president of Black & Decker’s consumer products group, lays out the objectives of the two innovation initiatives he oversees. Includes slides and video.

How Trek Bicycle Corp. built its innovation scorecard

Trek exec Chad Manuell says the bike company’s leadership wasn’t happy with any of the innovation metrics or scorecards they’d seen. “Most placed too much focus on past performance, were too complex to maintain, or painted too fuzzy of a picture,” he says. So Trek created its own. Manuell explains how it works.

What you can learn from GE on connecting with entrepreneurs

GE hunts for breakthrough ideas by engaging with startups and academic researchers in new ways. Says exec Venkat Venkatakrishnan, “Our challenge has become, how can I find a technology that I will be the first to apply, not, what do I invent tomorrow?” Here’s a look at how Vankatakrishnan’s group held a first-of-its-kind event last fall.

Monitoring internal innovation: Whirlpool’s dashboard of ideas

How does the appliance and home products maker keep track of new product ideas bubbling up in the organization— and their market potential? Global director of innovation Moisés Norena shares the dashboard executives use in their meetings, and explains how it works.

What Philips wants from open innovation and crowdsourcing

Philips North America chairman Greg Sebasky, left, calls it “one of the first attempts by a large company to do open innovation.” The company is dangling $100,000 in prize money, plus mentorship from Philips execs, for new product ideas in healthcare. But before the competition launched, Sebasky had to deal his attorneys.