By Jeremy Lagomarsino, EVP of Business Development & Strategy, Berlin Packaging
In the food industry, innovation is a word often reserved for those in R&D and marketing — and that’s a mistake. Production and manufacturing people should be as concerned with innovation as anyone else in the organization because, at the end of the day, fresh ideas are what move every part of a company forward.
What exactly does innovation mean, in business terms? With so much talk of innovation these days, one would think there would be clarity on its meaning. That’s not the case. Many believe innovation is synonymous with the word “creativity.” While innovation can most definitely involve flashes of insight or inspiration, in business terms, innovation means something very different.
While he was CEO of Procter & Gamble, A.G. Lafley defined innovation as “the conversion of a new idea into revenues and profits.” Companies that have mastered the art of innovation know how to foster and generate ideas as part of their culture, and then evaluate and implement the best ideas to create real value. Are there organizational disciplines that encourage innovative ideas? Absolutely!
For innovation to become a part of a food manufacturing operation, it must be a priority. Talk with your engineering and management staffs about the need to innovate, and set measurable targets for improvement in key production metrics. As you do, keep in mind your organization’s risk profile. Placing fewer big bets may be riskier than opting for many smaller bets. A hard look at available resources is also important, as innovation will become more than a buzzword only if financial and human capital is dedicated to the task.
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