How to Inspire, Not Impede Innovation

October 31, 2011 By Aminda

To stay in business for more than 160 years, a company cannot simply keep operating the same old way. Rather they must keep innovating and adapting to keep up with the times. Leaders at one of the oldest companies in theU.S., Menasha Packaging, knows this well.

Company president Mike Waite shares about the company’s most recent adaptation which took place five years ago. First, the company streamlined internal operations to become more focused on packaging and displays for markets with high potential for growth. Through strategies such as acquisitions and creation of a new division, they laid a foundation that would quickly allow them to operate at the upper end of their industry, with innovative designs, services and supply chain management. Among changes was the creation of a Retail Integration Institute, where the company combines and share knowledge from the entire retail process; from the consumer product goods companies to the retailers. This knowledge sharing is a win-win for all parties as it generates more relevant, effective in-store promotions.

Innovation Excellence offers several strategies for companies looking to follow in the footsteps of Menasha. The article outlines five impediments companies run into when implementing an innovative culture:

Fuzzy Vision. In order to focus breakthrough effort, the challenge needs to be stated clearly enough to unleash big ideas that drive at the heart of the challenge or opportunity.

Old School Brainstorming. Companies must ditch the flip chart to generate, build and shape ideas. Organizations are advised to create a safe environment and then invite outsides to generate the widest range of ideas.

No Care and Feeding of Best Ideas. Ideas need to be advanced and explored; they need to be cultivated with key stakeholders so they don’t suffer an early death, snuffed out by the inertia of the status quo.

Saying No Too Easy. Organizations need be careful not to jettison the plan at the first sign of imperfection. Instead ask how the idea can be morphed.

Not Pausing to Learn. Create an environment where learning is valued and disappointments reveal insights for a stronger cycle next time.

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