As the celebration of our ninth birthday draws to a close, I sat down with Kalypso’s co-founders Bill Poston and George Young to discuss which companies are changing the innovation game, and how these companies are transforming their innovation processes to become — and remain — industry leaders. Here are the nine companies topping the list.
Not only is McDonald’s a leader in the world of fast food, the company is also a leader in innovation. To promote nutritional transparency to its customers, McDonald’s has incorporated innovative processes and technology into its menu and delivery of food. QR codes on food packaging and tray liners allow customers to scan what they eat and build individual nutritional data for their meal. In this way, McDonald’s allows customers to make informed choices on how they eat — healthy or indulgent. Global menu management practices keep the menu fresh, bring back old favorites like the McRib and Shamrock Shake, and introduce new concepts from around the world to American palates.
In 2008, Kimberly-Clark (K-C) made a significant change in its innovation focus on renovation, and kicked off a strategic initiative of five innovation pilots to revitalize its innovation projects and capabilities. Today, K-C is enjoying in-market success from several breakthrough innovation platforms, and completing transactional learning on several others. The company has captured learning on how to organize to increase the odds of success, and is deep into implementing the sustaining organization requirements needed to keep delivering excellent results — people, process and systems.
3. Church & Dwight
Church & Dwight’s focus on agile product development enables it to introduce products to customers more rapidly than its larger competitors. Church & Dwight has enjoyed the highest total shareholder return (TSR) in its class by deploying a fast moving consumer goods model in the traditionally stodgy detergent business. It constantly optimizes products to fit the needs of its customers and creates product news “on the shelf.” It has also employed an innovative diversification strategy and made successful moves into vitamins and sexual health.
Flowserve is changing the innovation game by globalizing its engineering and product development capabilities. The company has created a collaborative infrastructure that enables engineers to work together around the world. This allows Flowserve to bring specialized technical expertise to local markets and support an efficient engineer-to-order model for its pumps and valves. Their R&D function has been transformed as a result.
In an age when anyone under 30 checks their cellphone for the time, Fossil deserves credit for not only keeping the watch category alive, but expanding it. Proving that watches can be more than just a utilitarian clock on your wrist, Fossil leverages highly innovative design capabilities to develop watches as fashion accessories. With multiple brands, and varying price points and designs, it gives consumers a reason to buy more than one.
6. The Home Depot
The Home Depot is changing the game in retail by creating a seamless, integrated customer relationship across its online and in-store operations. Customers now have a complete record of every purchase and all warranty information available regardless of whether the purchase was made on the web or in the store. The Home Depot is also a product and process innovator in the rapidly expanding world of private brands.
LSI, a leading global semiconductor supplier to storage and networking markets for data centers, has realized an innovative integrated product record system for its new product introduction (NPI) process. This NPI process is improving LSI’s internal collaboration on product releases and associated changes, which allows the company to continually have its innovation activities well positioned to quickly address its growing markets of storage and network traffic.
Samsung is reaping the benefits of a long-term strategic plan to dominate select product categories. The company combines design, technology and manufacturing ingenuity to create products that meet the unique needs of different markets around the world (kimchi refrigerator anyone?) Its scale, vertical integration and newfound marketing prowess is changing the innovation game and balancing the power structure in electronics.
Starbucks is pushing the envelope in new products, clever promotions, payment systems and customer relationships. Its rapid testing and scale-out capability is taking the “fail fast” concept to extremes. While taking risks by moving fast, the company adapts well and knows when to pull the plug on a product or business concept that isn’t working.
What’s Your View?
What companies do you think are changing the innovation game?