Want to innovate successfully? Get your teams talking
There are many ways to innovate successfully, but studies of innovation tend to agree on one thing: it’s best done with people from as wide as possible a variety of different backgrounds and specialisms.
Multidisciplinary teams improve the quality, manufacturability and marketability of the final product. And although getting everyone to work together can mean having to overcome some cultural differences, the rewards are significant.
In our experience, a key group who must be involved in successful innovation are the production team on the factory floor.
Because, while innovation and marketing people may be brilliant at understanding what customers want and need, they tend to need help in understanding what your production assets can actually supply.
At Happen we address this problem using our Asset-Out innovation framework, which harnesses the potential in your factories, identifying new product features that can be created using existing processes and equipment, to meet consumer demands with minimal investment.
But Asset-Out isn’t just about studying machinery – it’s also about getting different parts of an organisation to understand and communicate with each other effectively.
Ifan Jenkins, marketing manager for Glenfiddich at William Grant & Sons, is a big fan of Asset-Out. He says: “You need processes that help join up the internal teams, so you don’t have an office where everyone’s doing business as usual and there’s one poor guy in the corner charged with turning up a big new innovation on his own.”
Involving people from across the business helps to generate better ideas, but it’s also about getting the whole company on board behind an innovation, Ifan says.
“To launch a new whisky, we have to have an idea that excites our distiller who’s going to make it, the craftsmen who are going to be involved in creating it, our packaging agencies who are going to design it, our commercial people in 150 different countries, and for us as a family-run company, the family themselves. Even the archivists get involved. There are a lot of people who need to be excited about a project. When people have helped come up with concepts, they’ll be more passionate and excited about them. It stops it from just being the job of a couple of guys in the corner, and that means there’s a higher chance of the innovation getting through to the market.”
For a recent product launch, Glenfiddich had a core project team of just four people, but Ifan says as many as 400 were involved somewhere along the way. And next time, “we’ll involve even more”.
Want to know more about Asset-Out innovation? Get in touch.