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MWSCC Thinks Outside the Box
By: Katie Schaefer, Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine
Posted: November 10, 2010
page 2 of 3
Perkins’ presentation was followed by a coffee break, during which Romanowski presented attendees with a brain teaser in which they were tasked with connecting nine equally-spaced dots arranged in a square with only four straight lines and while keeping their pen on the paper. The answer required participants truly to think outside the box, as the lines literally connected outside of the square of dots.
After the brain teaser, attention was shifted to Steve Goers, vice president of open innovation, knowledge management, IP and investments for Kraft Foods, whose topic was “Innovating How to Innovate.” According to Goers, Kraft grows 5% every year, which equals out to a nearly US $2.5 billion increase. To accomplish this growth, the company harnesses innovation capability from within, including from its nearly 3,000 scientists and engineers. Although the company also leverages external innovation networks, Goers encourages companies to look internally first, to "know what they know," before outsourcing.
To look internally, Kraft launched an internal Global R&D Innovation Suite, a central database of all the company's R&D efforts, which includes an Ask the Expert tool whereby researchers can find experts within the company's own R&D sector. When going outside the company to innovate, Goers encourages companies to leverage suppliers, and he gave a few successful examples of this collaboration.
According to Goers, “Open innovation is an evolution.” He added that part of the challenge is establishing the right culture for innovation within the company, noting the importance of building the concept of open innovation from the beginning and incorporating it into how everyone innovates.
Robert Lochhead, PhD, professor of polymer science for the school of polymers and high performance materials at the University of Southern Mississippi, followed Goers with case studies of innovation. According to Lochhead, universities generally do not innovate because it is against their culture in the sense that most universities typically work on existing technologies that support their research rather than looking to outside sources to bring in new concepts.