Hyatt, Merck and Nestlé Purina execs explain their business processes for innovation and detail why backing from on high is important.
Innovation has become a fixture of the C-suite agenda as stories of innovation labs, digital disruption and failure funerals become commonplace. But the dirty little secret about innovation is this: Cultural transformation — from business-as-usual to something much more experimental — can take years, if it happens at all.
In some cases, established organizations are hiring executives to lead the innovation charge. These chiefs of innovation are often tasked with shaking up the culture by ushering out the old way of doing things and introducing new processes, products and business models. They aren’t, in other words, getting their hands dirty with legacy technology or information management systems, but they are taking on what many executives — IT leaders included — consider to be a tough assignment: change management.
Jeff Semenchuk of Hyatt Hotels, Srikant Gopal formerly of Nestlé Purina and Cathryn Gunther of Merck are three examples of innovation leaders. Each is working to build an innovation culture within well-established companies in an effort to combat the Ubers of their industries and remain competitive. And they’ve learned a thing or two along the way, like this little nugget for the innovation uninitiated: Innovation is a spectrum that ranges from incremental improvements for established products or processes, to complete transformation or disruption of a business model.
At December’s Chief Innovation Officer Summit in New York City, each of these leaders shared insights on how they are injecting innovation into their workplaces.