As discussed in my previous post, a best in class mentoring program starts by establishing the specific objectives and desired outcomes of the mentoring experience. As part of that process, it’s key to pinpoint your mentee target audience. This will help define both the program structure and the skill sets needed by the mentors you engage. Over the course of my career as an international Organizational Development professional, I’ve seen growing interest in leveraging the power of mentoring to address two challenging talent dynamics facing companies today: 1) attracting and retaining women in STEM professions; and 2) effectively blending a multi-generational workforce. Mentoring programs tailored to address these specific issues can be a highly effective way to create competitive advantage through enhanced productivity, engagement, and retention. Here are some key factors to consider when designing mentoring initiatives to address these specific challenges.
Innovation is the name of the game for company growth. As my YourEncore colleagues Shekar Mitra and George Deckner have recently written, it’s also a game that is increasing complex and challenging to win. They’ve discussed new approaches, bringing the outside in, and how to get the best out of innovation teams. These are all great strategies for changing the playing field. In addition, during my 37 years leading new product development for Procter & Gamble, I’ve found that there is one page in the innovation playbook that is often overlooked: delivering a steady series of strategic base hits versus a singular focus on periodic, high-risk grand slams. With this approach, companies can put runs on the board that cumulatively lead to more profitable growth, ultimately allowing them to win big in the innovation game.
The face of healthcare is undergoing major changes. Traditional relationships between healthcare providers, payers and patients are being turned on their head. This revolution is being driven by multiple factors, including: 1) demographics, as huge numbers of Baby Boomers enter their senior years; 2) the advent of healthcare plans that place greater responsibility for healthcare decisions and costs on patients; and 3) the explosive growth in eHealth, which has created unprecedented access to health-related information, a proliferation of health-focused internet sites and services, as well as smartphone apps that put information and personalized health data at your fingertips.
These forces have transformed the patient into a healthcare consumer who shops for value and demands improved quality, cost, convenience, and performance…just like s/he does for “traditional” consumer products. Yet delivering on performance requirements in this space often demands the scientific rigor associated with the life science and pharmaceutical industries. Having led both consumer product and pharmaceutical innovation for Procter & Gamble, including serving as a founding member and leader of PGT Healthcare, a joint venture between P&G and Teva Pharmaceuticals, I view the convergence between CPG, rigorous science, and even Food & Beverage as tremendously fertile ground for consumer-led innovation and growth. Today’s post highlights key demographic shifts, along with some thoughts on opportunities for innovation in a consumer-driven environment. In future posts, I’ll discuss the influence of consumer-directed health care plans and eHealth on the patient as consumer.
Tension can be a good thing. Resistance is how our bodies build muscle. In teams, very productive work comes from teams that value and encourage differing points of view. This idea of embracing conflict also applies to finding breakthrough solutions to the problem that an innovation team has been charged with solving.
Last week I talked about the value of innovation teams focusing first on what needs to be done. Why are we here? What function needs to be delivered by the solution? Once a team defines this “job to be done," I recommend a second step that has similar power in driving goal clarity and creativity: identifying and articulating all contradictions inherent in the stated problem. In working with a wide range of teams over the course of my 35-year career in R&D with Procter & Gamble and subsequent engagements with YourEncore clients, I’ve found this step extremely valuable in staying focused while opening the range of possible solutions to explore.
“If I had an hour to solve a problem, I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” --Albert Einstein
In his recent posts on innovation, Dr. Shekhar Mitra talked about the importance of the Innovation Brief, which outlines the specific focus of an innovation team’s work. It reflects the business vision and innovation strategy, while focusing on a tightly defined, clearly articulated problem to be solved.
The need to start with a defined problem sounds both obvious and simple, right? Yet over the course of my 35-year career in R&D with Procter & Gamble and subsequent engagements with YourEncore clients, I’ve found that it is easier said than done. Often, teams spring into action, tackling symptoms vs. root causes and missing the opportunity to deliver game-changing results. So how do you get to the heart of the matter and craft a powerful problem statement that both focuses and frees your innovation team to discover breakthrough solutions?
Last week I wrote about the importance of challenging paradigms to achieve breakthrough innovation. Once an innovation brief or problem statement has been clearly articulated, there is a tendency for those charged with finding “the answer” to spring into action. By nature, most people are action-oriented; thinking is not a visible activity and, therefore, often not perceived to be “productive”. I contend, however, that critically thinking through the goal, assumptions, and challenges of the current situation is one of the most important, and productive, steps in the innovation process.
Critical thinking is a self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective mode of thinking — about any subject, content, or problem. Great innovators use critical thinking to analyze, assess, deconstruct, and reconstruct alternative solutions. Over the course of my career developing and commercializing new platform technologies at P&G and Charles of the Ritz, I’ve found several techniques that work well to strengthen and leverage critical thinking skills. Here are six that I use to push the boundaries:
Throughout 2016, YourEncore Consumer Goods Experts have shared their experiences and perspectives on a host of topics, including knowledge management, innovation, visual demonstration, FSMA implementation, supply chain optimization, problem solving, consumer insights, productivity improvement, and margin management. We recently looked back at these blog posts and discovered that they share five common themes, regardless of the specific topic or discipline being addressed. As you wind down 2016 and head into 2017, we urge you to consider how these concepts can be applied to your business situation. We expect them to be increasingly relevant in the year ahead.
In my previous blog, I discussed the new model of innovation that is emerging. Companies of all sizes are leveraging both external and internal resources and processes in new and creative ways to accelerate innovation with greater in-market success. This week, I’ll share five keys for successfully reinventing innovation within your organization.
Innovation is essential for sustainable revenue and profit growth and, most importantly for every enterprise and brand, to remain relevant to today's consumers and customers. More and more, however, it seems that innovation is easier said than done, particularly for larger consumer goods companies. In fact, the biggest innovation threat to some of the leading companies and brands comes not from their traditional large company peers and rivals. Rather, it comes from nimble, creative individuals and smaller companies who embrace experimentation, look outside their four walls for ideas and resources they are lacking, and engage them when and where they are needed. These companies are reinventing innovation from the outside in, and reaping great rewards.
In my February blog post, I noted that a key factor in identifying step-change solutions is to bring external thinking and fresh perspectives to your business challenge. Tapping expertise and services from outside the enterprise to help solve complex problems or manage functional deliverables can lead to breakthrough ideas and accelerate implementation. In today’s free-agent workforce, access to expertise has never been greater. But to get the most, and the best, from these engagements, I’ve found the following best practices are essential: