At P&G, It’s “360-Degree Innovation”
Chief Tech Officer Gilbert Cloyd on how the consumer-goods giant moves technology and ideas both internally and externally.

Questions asked at the interview:

  • How has the way Procter & Gamble innovates changed in recent years?
  • What changes in society and industry are altering the way P&G innovates?
  • How does the innovation process work today at P&G?
  • Can you give me some examples of how you cross-fertilize internally?
  • How do you make those connections happen in a way that doesn’t slow things down from all the coordination that’s necessary?
  • How does the company reach outside for talent and ideas?
  • How well has it worked?
  • Is the decline in corporate R&D spending a problem?
  • These changes must be hard for people at P&G to contend with. How do you get them to go along?
  • Why is it often so difficult for large, established companies to innovate?
  • How do you get past those tendencies?

Answers to these questions include the following comments:

  • more emphasis to what we call the desired consumer experience
  • industrial design much more integrated into the innovation process than we had in the past
  • putting a lot more attention on what we call 360-degree innovation – putting commercial and technical groups closer
  • broader base of consumers
  • more attention on the cost aspects of products – cost innovation
  • facing an ever-faster pace of innovation in consumer-product markets; the pace of innovation has roughly doubled in the past 10 years; now innovations in the marketplace have a much shorter market life than previously; move to upgrade our brands even more frequently
  • challenge in innovation is to present ourselves well with a lot of different brands and do it affordably
  • INNOVATION PROCESS AT P&G: broad program called “connect and develop.” In the academic world, it’s called “open innovation.”; want to connect internally — move technologies and ideas across our business units internally — but also connect externally.
  • internal intranet “Ask Me” feature, 21 communities of practice within R&D and global technology council
  • technology entrepreneurs search for ideas and people
  • “When you get really big brands that are generating a lot of profit and cash flow, there’s a tendency to make changes very carefully. If you do something that your large consumer base doesn’t like, it can be a very significant negative financial impact. You’ve got to be careful, or caution will freeze you in place. Second, if you’ve been on a particular conceptual and technology approach that’s working, there’s just this tendency that people have to keep working with what’s successful.”
  • “It’s important to set the right goals. Asking people to set their goals in a very conscious, formal process is important to see if the innovation pipeline matches what they want to deliver. The perversion you can get into is that you build an incentive system that causes people to keep trying to make something a success and invest behind it when they ought to just quit. Kill it off, take the learning, and recycle.”

SOURCE: BusinessWeek – for the complete article