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.
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….
“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…
Eric von Hippel, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an economist who has studied open innovation since the 1980s, explores the phenomenon of consumers as innovators in his new book, “Free Innovation.” In a recent conversation in his office overlooking the Charles River in Cambridge, von Hippel pointed out that there are far more consumers innovating today than there are R&D engineers working for companies.
Innovation Leader editor and co-founder Scott Kirsner shares seven examples of how companies like Toyota, Disney, GE, and Amazon are working to innovate better, faster, cheaper — and more collaboratively. The webcast also explores some of the factors that lead to premature death for innovation initiatives.
“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.
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.
“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.
Scott Wilkins, Enterprise Innovation Director at the British pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca and his colleague Rob Albert discuss the roots of the open innovation program at AstraZeneca; how they use recognition and financial rewards for people who help them with challenges; how they got legal and compliance leaders on their side; and how they’re shifting the culture at AstraZeneca from feeling like every great breakthrough needs to come from an employee. In Wilkins’ words, the company now stresses that “the patient doesn’t care who solves the problem.” Includes 30 minutes of downloadable audio…
The lab was founded a decade ago with a mandate to look “beyond the next product cycle, identifying trends and technologies that will emerge in the next three to five years.” Michael Zimbalist, who had overseen the lab, had already departed the Times in March to join Simulmedia, an advertising tech startup.
We talk to the director of Shell TechWorks about the lab’s projects, its funding, and its mission — finding cheaper, faster, and safer ways to drill for oil and gas, and to take advantage of future energy sources.
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…
The new institute has four initial mandates, including helping the carmaker explore possible products opportunities in “indoor mobility” and robotic assistants for the elderly. CEO Gill Pratt explains the structure…
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…
On our latest Innovation Leader Live call, lean startup guru Steve Blank talked about the challenges of bringing the lean startup approach into a large company; and the decisions that should be made before setting up an “innovation outpost.” Article includes 30 minutes of audio. (Not a subscriber? Here’s an excerpt.)
How are you going to make change and deliver results in 2016? Whether you work in an innovation group, new product development, strategy, or R&D, we believe that these issues deserve a place on your agenda for the year ahead.
Few companies have as strong a track record when it comes to open innovation and pilot testing as General Mills. In a recent Innovation Leader Live call, Jim Kirkwood, Chief Science and Technology Development Officer, explained how the company “gets to the first dollar fast” with pilot tests. Includes 30 minutes of audio. (Not a subscriber? Get an excerpt here »)
We’re about to embark on a “lean innovation” journey at our company, and I was wondering if you’d seen any studies or best practices that large corporations should consider?
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.
Leaders need to understand that fostering only incremental changes and improvements will doom a company to fall behind. Every company, says Google sales exec Todd Rowe, needs to set at least a few 10X goals — creating something ten times better than what exists today — and give employees the time and freedom to pursue them. Includes audio…
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…
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.
Our latest Innovation Leader Live call featured Graham Milner of WD-40 talking about how the publicly-traded San Diego company with the iconic blue-and-yellow cans has grown beyond a single product. In particular, Milner discussed the life and death of “Team Tomorrow,” which was formed by the CEO in 2002 to explore new opportunities.
Amazon.com is only the latest company to expose a problem it is grappling with and ask for outside help. Its Picking Challenge, wrapping up this month, invites participants to design robots and accompanying control software that can grab products from a shelf and place them into a box. Companies like Netflix, Philips, and GE have run similar challenges in recent years. But why aren’t we seeing many other Fortune 500 companies follow suit?
On our recent Field Study visit to Microsoft Research, Peter Lee showed one of those slides that had everyone in the group suddenly reaching for their phones to snap a picture.
Ford exec Jim Buczkowski discusses the strategy behind the expansion of the company’s Research & Innovation Center in Palo Alto, and shares several projects they’re working on.
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.
Managing director Frankie James talks about how her Silicon Valley-based team identifies high-potential startups and new technologies and interacts with teams at GM headquarters back in Detroit. Includes a slide detailing their four-stage process, from scouting to transferring.
Corporate research groups can get obsessed with “solving a problem in a perfect way,” says Xerox exec Sophie Vandebroek. She’s trying to get the company better-connected to emerging customer needs, and focused on solving the problems customers want solved, fast. Includes 30 minutes of audio.
Delphi Labs director John Absmeier explains how the automotive components giant is partnering, investing, and plugging into the Silicon Valley ecosystem — and hoping some of the “experiment-and-fail-fast” culture rubs gets absorbed by HQ.
Textron set an audacious goal: Get a new military plane from concept to the runway in less than two years, to fill what the company saw as a major market gap. Execs Bill Anderson and Dale Tutt, who led the Scorpion project, shared what they learned on the journey from blueprint to the blue yonder.
Mike Helser, head of the General Mills Worldwide Innovation Network, shares what the $17.8 billion consumer packaged goods company has learned from its open innovation experiences. We’ve got slides, steps for porting his model, and details on his “X-Squad.”
The document and services giant felt that R&D needed to be better-connected to customer needs. The result was the “Dreaming Session,” which brings researchers together with Xerox’s customers to think about high-potential applications for new technologies. Includes slides and audio from Sophie Vandebroek, president of the Xerox Innovation Group.
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.
General Motors R&D executive Clay Phillips talks about how the automaker is retooling research and development in the wake of bankruptcy; why some of its attempts to create internal innovation groups failed; and the skills necessary to cultivate disruptive innovations. Includes slides.
Being a bank is no longer just about branches and vaults full of cash, says Dominic Venturo, chief innovation officer of the $4.75 billion payment services business at U.S. Bank. Venturo explains how his 13-person innovation team interacts with the lines of business to make sure the organization stays ahead of trends like mobile payments, telepresence, and biometric security.