The Innovation Exchange: Five Lessons in Improving Execution from PepsiCo, Kimberly-Clark and J.M. Smucker

While establishing innovation and new product development process is no easy feat, effective execution and adoption of practices is even more difficult. Time and again, leading consumer goods companies recognize they need more from their innovation investments.

To address this, Sopheon and Kalypso facilitated an exchange between professionals from leading consumer goods firms and their peers across 21 countries. During the first event of the Consumer Goods Innovation Exchange Series, we heard real-life stories of innovation journeys, including the leading practices, challenges and learnings gained from striving for effective execution of innovation process. Prior to the first session in the series, we asked attendees to share information about their current state of innovation process, only 24% had defined and well-adopted NPD process, while the majority of respondents noted they struggle most with NPD process management.

During the session, we heard stories from innovation leaders at PepsiCo, Kimberly-Clark and the J.M. Smucker Company. Here are just a few tips for getting started on your own journey to improving execution and adoption of innovation and NPD process, taken directly from our speakers' presentations:

Gain senior leadership support, but also identify and address the doubters

As Jim Boucher, Senior Director of Supply Chain, Global Integration and Innovation at PepsiCo, highlighted during the discussion, leadership support is crucial to the success of initiatives. However, in the process you can't forget to consider and understand the concerns of all process owners. As you identify concerns, be sure to link them to real world examples that can provide tangible benefits to those involved. Speakers from Kimberly-Clark highlighted a key learning, they were aware that their innovation process was perceived as a big, complicated process that would slow down business, but overcame this reputation by showing doubters the real data and how it would drive success. Be sure to include this step early in the process to improve alignment and minimize rework.


Celebrate success and failures

It's not only critical to celebrate in-market product success, but also to celebrate early project failures to encourage swift decision-making and team transparency. Lean into leadership to promote a culture of open communication and remove the personal emotion from the process.

Every organization has a tipping point – recognize yours

Tim Beattie, Director of R&D and Innovation Process at the J.M. Smucker Company shared a practical, and often familiar, story about the need for an increased focus on innovation after years of growth through acquisition. After continually adding brands to their portfolio, J.M. Smucker could no longer rely on manual processes to support decision-making and effective portfolio optimization. PepsiCo, although already a leader globally in many product categories, recognized the need for an innovation reset to support standard processes globally across the enterprise. Organizations are increasingly turning to innovation as a driver of sustainable growth and profitability, but don't wait until you've passed the tipping point to focus on innovation performance.

Map your innovation journey

One thing all of the speakers had in common: Before they aspired to transform their innovation and NPD process, they clearly defined where they were going. Tim Beattie shared a story of his rough draft of The Rocket which later became the foundation for J.M. Smuckers' Innovation Launch Process. Speakers from Kimberly-Clark similarly shared an illustration of their innovation process that extended from the front-end of innovation all the way through to closed-loop learning based on in-market results

Benefits extend beyond innovation

Any time you bring together cross-functional team members from across the organization, they gain skills from one another and the project that add value to their role and the business in new ways. All of the speakers during this event recognized similar benefits from their innovation transformations. Value is gained by the business extending beyond innovation and NPD, including:

  • Team members gain cross-functional awareness and the big picture view
  • Provides development opportunities for team members to gain visibility with leadership

These are just some of the takeaways from the first virtual event in the Innovation Exchange Series. To dig deeper into the practices and lessons shared by professionals from PepsiCo, Kimberly-Clark and the J.M. Smucker Company view both sessions, available on-demand ( Driving Innovation Process Effectiveness Session One: PepsiCo & Kimberly-Clark and Session Two: J.M. Smucker Company & Kimberly-Clark). In April 2014, an eBook covering the practices in more detail will be posted to the Innovation Exchange Series webpage.

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