Innovation is about more than just invention. Breakthrough products are important, but great innovation is also about finding new ways of doing things. We spoke to Rebecca Haigh, Head of Innovation at Heineken, to get to the heart of what makes successful innovation.
What are the key ingredients for successful innovation?
A successful business should be innovating in all areas at all times, continually looking at how they can operate more efficiently to add tangible value to their customers. At Heineken, we regularly run innovation challenges that are open to everyone across all areas of the business, with the purpose of encouraging innovation. For us, innovation can be as simple as developing a different way of serving one of our existing beers in a pub! In fact, innovations such as these can be particularly valuable because they don’t require the big investments in development or manufacturing that product innovations do.
What’s essential before you start?
You need to ensure that you have clear strategy set up that everyone is aligned on. Then, define what’s needed to capture the right ideas and guide them through the process funnel. With innovation, it’s not coming up with ideas that’s the problem – it’s determining which ones can succeed and which will have the biggest impact on the business. We can’t pursue them all, so we have to use insights to be selective and identify those ideas that have real potential.
Is there a specific process that you follow when it comes to innovating?
We find the stage-gate process to be very successful. We use it as a tool to gain cross functional alignment at each stage of development – gate 0 for ideation through to gate 6 for evaluation.