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Case Studies

We thought it would help to share a few case studies for you to see the challenges other companies faced. Perhaps, you have similar challenges or others you would like to discuss.


Case Study #1: A Consumer Products Company

Problem Statement: In 2007, a US global company was looking to develop a systematic capability for its new growth initiatives. A small team had been in place yet it struggled to get momentum with its leadership team and others. The company requested an assessment of its innovation climate to create an environment more conducive to innovation and facilitate an executive meeting to advance the company’s innovation capability. Three priority areas were identified for development of the company’s proprietary innovation roadmap: establishing appropriate metrics, overcoming cultural barriers, and organizing for success.

Solution: A call to action was initiated at the executive meeting by the rInnovation Group questioning the company’s appetite for innovation. The executive team rose to the challenge of developing a strategy for innovation, focusing on defining the company’s strategic intent. The strategic intent provided direction for its innovation investments. This was followed by working through implementation requirements to institutionalize the D-I-A model, including ongoing training and coaching, and development of the governance model to provide the right environment.

Outcome: Finding the right people to drive innovation capability development was a challenge. Over the last five years, new products have been introduced by the innovation team and its business units that have stretched the company beyond incremental improvements. In parallel, time was devoted to building a systematic innovation capability, which is now paying off. In the fourth quarter of 2012, the company introduced one of its most innovative and successful products in the company’s history.

Case Study #2: A Manufacturing Company

Problem Statement: In 2009, a Danish global company had defined its innovation intent and created three innovation platforms yet it struggled to fill its innovation pipeline. The company had a separate new business group, with new business creation experience that did not exist in the core business. The objective was to move from an opportunistic new business approach removed from the core business to strategically driven innovation platforms to stretch the core and embed the innovation intent.

Solution: In working with the rInnovation Group and Product Genesis, the company developed a structure to support Discovery and Incubation activities and conducted an opportunity scan to identify promising business opportunities. The company worked through a number of implementation modules to build its capabilities and competences in new business creation, create a healthy pipeline of investment opportunities and evolve its support structure based on shifting business priorities.

Outcome: Different organizational models unfolded over time to embed the company’s innovation intent based on evolutionary and breakthrough innovation objectives. It developed new capabilities and competences in new business creation in separate groups that are now being infused into the core business. It has formed strategic partnerships and made competency-based acquisitions to fill resource gaps and accelerate market learning.

Case Study #3: An Enzymes Company

Problem Statement: In 2006, a Danish global company articulated a desire to instill radical innovation in its culture. The New Business Development group was in its infancy. There was a belief that the culture would change, if the company simply said it would. The company underestimated what it took to bring about this change.

Solution: A common language for innovation centered on uncertainty management has been established across the company’s two business areas and R&D. The rInnovation Group learning plan methodology is the cornerstone of the innovation strategy, which has been the trigger for culture change. The company is applying consistent evaluation criteria, which is different from criteria used for its new product development projects. The executive team reviews strategic projects and has developed a clear strategic intent for what the company wants to be in 10 years from now.

Outcome: A radical innovation culture is emerging. Platforms have been defined for growth and company renewal. The organizational purpose is clear. Innovation projects have a line of sight to growth targets in 2018. While this company made excellent progress in building its system for innovation, development of its Innovation Roadmap stalled in 2009/2010 in the areas of governance, portfolio management and transition management. While innovation efforts were scaled back, they were not been shut down as would have happened in the past. Furthermore, there is renewed commitment to continue this journey and take radical innovation culture change and capability building to the next level.

Case Study #4: A Chemicals Company

Problem Statement: In 2005, a Canadian global company presented an opportunity development challenge. At the time, all the company had were 6 or 7 ideas that McKinsey and others presented as more fully developed strategic projects.

Solution: Opportunity development, incubation capability and portfolio management capabilities were developed as well as an effective Venture Advisory Board. This resulted in a robust pipeline of investment opportunities and enabled the team to operate at the portfolio rather than project level to account for the higher uncertainty of strategic innovation opportunities.

Outcome: Due to the capabilities and experience the New Business Development team had developed, it was able to make the case for why its innovation activities should not be shut down during a serious economic downturn in a commodity chemicals industry. The executive sponsor viewed these activities as the future of the company, value creating development and market access strategic partnerships were formed and the investment portfolio generated significant revenue after 5 years of operation. While this company implemented all the elements of the Innovation Roadmap for achieving a mature innovation system and met with the greatest success, it was acquired and its new business development activities were redirected. These initiatives need to be supported by top management for sustained success.

Case Study #5: An Imaging Company

Problem Statement: In 2001, a US global company presented a transition management challenge. The systems concept group in R&D felt it had a lot of great business opportunities that the business units were simply not seeing the value of. While the R&D group felt it had promising business opportunities, it was primarily an idea generation shop that was fairly isolated from the rest of the company.

Solution: By the end of our engagement over 1.5-2 years, the company had a clearly distinguished idea development, incubation, and acceleration process. A transition management capability was developed that ensured uncertainties were reduced to the level a business unit (BU) could handle and a business accelerator was developed for business opportunities that did not fit with the business units. A Venture Board was formed and composed of the right decision makers to ensure R&D and BU activities were linked, redundancies did not exist and organization and resource issues were addressed.

Outcome: The R&D group revenue contributions to the BUs increased by a factor of 2 to 3 times. Over time, this company changed its business strategy with a new CEO and restructured, decreasing its focus on R&D. While it still valued the contributions of innovation to growth, it no longer supported a systematic innovation process and support structure. This company is no longer in business.