One of the core values at Campbell Soup Company is “own it like a founder.” This message is plastered on the walls throughout the company’s headquarters in Camden, NJ, along with the message of “dare to disrupt.”
“The disruptive innovation team within US retail thinks about those…on a daily basis,” says Megan Bozzelli, Disruptive Innovation Manager at Campbell Soup Company. “We have a mission for the disruptive innovation team, and we say that it is to unearth and nurture ideas that change the way people experience food.”
Along with helping to develop ideas and spin-out companies like The Soulful Project, the disruptive innovation team at Campbell’s utilizes a variety of other tactics to foster innovation throughout the company. Bozzelli walked us through some of the ways her team works to achieve these goals.
“We don’t outsource our research… We realized early on that our traditional research methods weren’t netting us true insight. We were developing ideas and using research methods where we were paying people to assess the ideas.
They were telling us it was going to be a success, and then low and behold, you reach the marketplace, and you get a completely different result. We realized we need to own our own research. Our team operates in a very scrappy way…We do the in-homes ourselves. We do all the interviewing with consumers ourselves. If we’re running focus groups, we’re moderating the focus groups ourselves, and we’re taking the notes.
The packaging engineer is doing the research, the marketer is doing the research, the chef is doing the research… Everyone is doing the research together…”
Innovation arms and legs
“There’s [a] group of employees who have raised their hands, and have said they have a passion for innovation and want to participate somehow with the disruptive innovation team, and we tap them for different things.
We will use them to help be additional arms and legs when we’re doing the consumer research, because quite frankly, it’s much more scrappy and cost-effective… We have employees who are spending their nights and weekends out there in the field doing the research…
We’ve identified a lot of people who not only have passion, but have built a skillset to think about the future and the potential impacts for the organization. It’s identifying those people, but then it’s also practically about identifying the gaps, the roadblocks, and the hurdles that we need to clear, and finding people who can help us navigate those things.”
“We’re putting specific challenges out to employees and asking them to help globally come up with new ideas… The objective of that program is two-fold. It’s about generating those ideas, because good ideas come from everywhere. It’s also about moving the needle on the innovation culture. These are people who aren’t necessarily linked day-to-day to innovation as a core job responsibility.
On the back end, the top ideas get a bit of funding, so they can go out and do some of that real world research and validation of their ideas, and bring them to life. It doesn’t just end at the submission form on your computer.”
The first challenge Campbell’s completed was around “How to be the leading health-and-well being company.” More than 500 ideas were submitted, and the top teams pitched to Campbell’s executives.
Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship
“As an experiment, our team said, ‘There’s a university down the street. They have what’s called the Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship Institute.’ We said, ‘Let’s see if there’s a way to partner with them.’ It was really interesting. They have a program that’s full of undergrad, graduate students, any discipline…so we said, ‘It would be really interesting to see how students are thinking about these spaces that we’re working in.’
We went out, and we did a weekend challenge with the students to have them think through one of the projects we’re working on… It went really well, and we are looking to expand that more gradually…”