Connect + Develop with Procter & Gamble
An Interview with Jeff Weedman, Vice President, External Business Development
By Sandy Staggs
In the United States, 99 percent of all households purchase and use at least one Procter & Gamble product.
P&G owns some of the world’s most recognizable brands including American favorites Head & Shoulders, Gillette, Pampers, Ivory, CoverGirl, Tampax, Old Spice, Tide and Crest and has significant stakes in a swath of other markets from Pringles chips to Duracell batteries.
The ubiquitous presence of the world's largest consumer products maker and its steadfast growth even during a likely recession—profits were $3.35 billion last quarter—is thanks in great part to the progressive vision of CEO A.G. Lafley. “Connect + Develop” is his innovation manifesto calling for 50 percent of all innovation coming from outside the company.
Through Connect + Develop P&G collaborates with individuals and companies, laboratories, research institutes, financial institutions, suppliers, academia and e-R&D networks. Its successes include Olay Regenerist, Swiffer Dusters, the Crest SpinBrush and Glad ForceFlex trash bags.
As Vice President, External Business Development, Jeff Weedman leads a team of over 50 P&G “trailblazers” who search the globe for open innovation opportunities in engineering, technology, trademarks, packaging and more. Weedman recently shared his company’s secrets on open innovation success with IdeaConnection.com
Sandy Staggs (SS):
What role does open innovation play at Procter & Gamble?
Open innovation is essential at Procter & Gamble, but we don’t look at Connect + Develop to replace our Research & Development department. We spend $2.2 billion on R&D. Our philosophy is how to continue to do what we are best at, and very systematically and aggressively reach out to literally to the entire world. It comes down to, “How do we get those great ideas?”
What percentage of sales does P&G spend on R&D?
It’s about 2.6 percent right now. We tend to be at the very high end of companies in our market. It used to be almost 5 percent but in “dollars” we spend more now (as sales increase).
P&G has set-up its own website
to foster open innovation. How does this work?
We really set it up to be an efficient enterprise for ideation with the public so they will be open to submitting ideas to us. It’s a pretty straightforward and robust system. Ultimately, we want people with great ideas to come to us and let P&G show them how to best use those ideas. But we also want to be able to share with them the (financial) rewards and protect their intellectual property.
How does an average consumer with a great idea benefit with Connect + Develop?
It is important that I distinguish that P&G is a company that has always thrived on our technology. This website is not just an idea site. We are looking for things that are IP-protected, ideas that already have patents. We don’t really want to talk to you until you have patented those ideas. The intellectual property is important, but if someone does not have (iron-clad) intellectual rights, we can help them with that.
Did Open Innovation at P&G begin with Connect + Develop?
No, it goes back way before that. We were experimenting with (outside innovation) well before 2002. The headlines started when our new CEO A.G. Lafley took over he has been a very big proponent of open innovation.
What is the most exciting innovation you've been involved in developing?
One of our innovations that illustrate the extremes is a terrific calcium technology that we invented many years ago. We licensed this to Tropicana (which was subsequently bought by PepsiCo). This calcium is of superior quality compared to regular calcium. It is not how much calcium that is ingested that’s important, but how much is absorbed by the body. Though simple, this technology helped Tropicana become the number one orange juice brand in the country.
One of my other favorite stories is our joint venture with The Clorox Company. We are collective joint owners of the Glad (trash bags, food wraps and containers) business. (P&G owns 20 percent of Glad). Technology that has been pioneering the growth in that business is from P&G and it’s helped that brand grow to over a billion dollars. (Total Glad sales have doubled in the four years since the joint venture was formed.) You would not believe the amount of technology that goes into something like ForceFlex trash bags. I love the fact that Glad is a different business model for us where we have co-developed products in the marketplace with a competitor. Global companies can collaborate—and benefit—with competitors when it makes sense.
What is the most difficult problem you or your team has solved at P&G?
I think that the most challenging thing is for a big company to learn how to work with a small or mid-size company. When you are an $85 billion corporation, nearly every company we work is a small(er) company. I call these asymmetrical relationships.
How many innovation agreements does your team currently manage?
We have about 1,100 contracts under management at the moment, but some of these deals are ones that originated in other parts of the company.
I know your division handles licensing P&G technologies. How has this focus changed under Connect + Develop?
Licensing P&G technologies, trademarks and other innovation assets to other companies was primarily what we used to do. But now about two-thirds of the work we do is bringing technology from other companies to P&G. We look at opportunities that can accelerate our own innovation and if we don’t delight consumers with our products, we are not going to be able to compete.
Can you recommend any particular books on innovation that you or your staff have read?
Our CEO A.G. Lafley, who has been one of our early innovation champions, has a book out called “The Game Changer.” (Written with management consultant Ram Charan, the authors discuss innovation at P&G and other companies such as General Electric, Honeywell, LEGO, Apple, Wal-Mart and HP). There’s another good book called “Blueprint to a Billion: 7 Essentials to Achieve Exponential Growth” by David G. Thomson that looks at some of the first companies that took in a billion dollars in sales. There could be some lessons drawn from Thompson. One of the smartest guys in the business is Henry Chesbrough and his newest book “Open Innovation: Researching a New Paradigm
” is on open innovation models. “Einstein in the Boardroom: Moving Beyond Intellectual Capital to I-Stuff” and “Edison in the Boardroom: How Leading Companies Realize Value from Their Intellectual Assets” by Suzanne S. Harrison are both good books on intellectual property.
Though this book has nothing to do with business, Doris Kearns “Team of Rivals” on Abraham Lincoln is very good. Like Barack Obama, Lincoln was not the first choice for president by any of the parties or faction. Almost by surprise, Lincoln became the nominee and instead of packing his cabinet with his friends, he appointed all of his major rivals. The concept of putting your rivals (in these positions) shows that it is the idea that matters, not where it may come from.
Can you recommend any other innovation websites of value like IdeaConnection?
We were an early supporter of NineSigma and we have (looked at) InnoCentive.
Does P&G sponsor any innovation competitions or prizes?
Not really. The reason we have not really got into that is that we prefer to talk directly with the inventor or company. Literally anybody in the world can come to P&G with a great idea and if we like it, we will work with them. That is better than any prize.
Based in Cincinnati, OH., Jeff Weedman serves as Vice President of External Business Development at Procter & Gamble. He first joined P&G in 1977, serving in various marketing capacities including VP/General Manager, Commercial Services Products, North American Laundry & Cleaning Products. The work of Jeff’s group has been featured in more than 50 publications on four continents, including
The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, The Korea Economic Times, Axis (Japan), Bilan (Switzerland), and
The Economist. P&G received The Economist’s 2007 Corporate Innovation Award and the Licensing Achievement Award from the Licensing Executives Society, one of only five companies to ever receive that organization’s for excellence. Whether in engineering or technology, trademarks or packaging, business models or design, Jeff—an avid angler always in search of the next big fish—has helped pave the way of P&G’s open innovation journey.
I have an idea that I do believe will be great for your company but I want to make sure I get a commission on how much you sell. please tell me how to go about it, Thank You!
Posted by Leska Denoncourt on March 30, 2018
I SPOKE WITH STEVE IN C/S ON 10/4/16
MY IDEA IS TO MAKE A TISSUE HOLDER THAT FITS INTO THE CUP HOLDER OF A CAR
SHOULD BE EASY AND SELL MILLIONS. LET ME KNOW TOM CRADICK 404 252 6205
Posted by TOM cradick on October 25, 2016
My idea is for a combo tote and paper towel holder. I call this THE CLEANING CADDY. I have drawings of this item that I can send to your company. I am a product designer.
Posted by robert howitt on October 11, 2016
Make all cleaning products with the first bottle with name of product and on the back what it can do list all ingeisients. make nozzell too spray or stream item. When gone have refilable bottells that would charge 5 cents like soda bottells do and get refund back This would cut down on land fill places.
Posted by donna downig on July 21, 2014
my idea can and will make alot of money i want to sell you my idea.I am going to need your responce first before i tell you what my idea is .Ijust want to say i know it will go globel im sure of it.
Posted by Eva Hopper on July 18, 2014
I have a patented innovation . how can it be sent to you? leonrd portnoy 949 4620117
Posted by leonard portnoy on January 22, 2014
I have a patent on a good Idea, I am in the early stages of looking at my options I am old school and would like to work with a company like P&G Thanks for your time Richard
Posted by Richard Liftchild on February 7, 2013
There is a link to the P&G site on IdeaConnection at
or go to the Solver Resources dropdown menu and click on "Crowdsourcing"
Posted by Wendy Wurtele on July 6, 2012
how can i submit my new idea on always pads to procter and Gamble company?
Posted by Patricia fuglo on July 5, 2012
US Patent application filed Sept. 2,2010 Serial No. 61/379,566
Re: Method and Apparatus for protecting Vehicle Surfaces from Flying Insects
In Sept. April and May. Swarms of Black Bugs and other insects cover the Sky over our Roads and Highways causing extreme damage to the Paint.Their now is Products to try and Wash them off after the damage, but none to prevent them from sticking.
SOLUTION: Proctor & Gambles Bounce has been Field Proven to help prevent the Bugs from sticking and causing damage to the Paint. We call it " Bounce A Bug."
We would like to discuss signing all market rights to P&G for reasonable Royalty.
Thank you for your kind consideration.
J. Robert Crawford
Posted by james Crawford on February 22, 2011