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.

Business development director April Bertram of GOJO Industries, formerly an innovation management executive.

“We borrow resources pretty extensively from the business,” says Jim Winkler, Chief Innovation Officer at Aon Health. “People rotate through my team in an informal fashion, and I more formally grab percentages of peoples’ time who are in the business. Someone might be a client facing healthcare consultant, but spend 25 percent of their time on my team working on a particular concept or solution that we’re building out.”

“We kind of write a narrative of why [a certain innovation focus area] is important to the business,” says April Bertram at GOJO, the maker of Purell and other hygiene products. “We give them three areas to focus on. We’re not completely constraining them, but we’re giving them some guidelines of where we think we want to innovate, so that once something does start into development, [the innovation team] doesn’t get too far down a path and it gets rejected. We did it the other way before — we kind of let people go wild — and they’d come in after 12 weeks of constant iteration, and it was just not something that was aligned with our brand, and we wouldn’t ever be able to launch it. We wanted to make sure we had the right checks and balances early on, to provide guardrails.”

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