Anne Berthereau, Director of Innovation at Owens Corning, spoke to us recently about what’s new at the $5.3 billion manufacturing giant, which makes everything from insulation to roofing tiles to composites for boats and wind turbines.
“In the past, we focused mainly on product innovation,” Berthereau says. “But very quickly, we were able to figure out that technology opens doors to new product development. You can’t accelerate product innovation without leveraging your technology assets.” So now, Ohio-based Owens Corning has two innovation teams: “One focused on product innovation, and the other that focuses on technology innovation.” Berthereau currently leads the technology innovation team.
Market Intelligence and Online Brainstorming
We rolled out a new market intelligence tool last year. It helps us to learn outside perspective. We developed it with an external company, based on our focus and our products. Once a week, we get an alert by e-mail when it is updated. We’re leveraging that tool not only to learn from outside, but also to push for more connectedness between our scientists.
We have a global innovation team , with R&D people in the U.S., in Europe, and Asia. We cannot afford to have them brainstorming in the same room very often. It helps ensure there will be continuous discussion and brainstorming within our technical community. You can post ideas that you have, or react to information we get from outside.
Once a quarter, we have a portfolio review. Some projects might get sidelined, others might get more resources. The review is the time to make some clear choices. I’s all about the value that these projects can deliver for Owens Corning and our customers.
We evaluate our portfolio in terms of value creation. For products, it’s well known, and tends to focus on revenue creation and NPV. For technology, it’s much more cost-driven — capital avoidance or cost savings.
Once a year, Mike Thaman, chairman and chief executive officer of Owens Corning, and the executive committee recognize a cross functional team with the Board of Directors’ Cup. It is the highest award given at Owens Corning. It honors the global, cross-functional team that uses company resources to deliver extraordinary results for customers, employees and shareholders.
- In 2013, a team who was turning back to operations in record time the Owens Corning Kearny roofing plant that was completely flooded by the Sandy Hurricane in the northeastern United States on the evening of Oct. 29, 2012.
- In 2012 , a cross functional team who developed a new best in class product used in spray-up applications such as boats, bathtubs and showers, and vehicle body parts.
Exemplary products & technology developments are also recognized through innovation awards.
A downloadable version of this presentation, with several additional slides, can be found in our Resource Center.