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Driving Growth Through Innovation Enablement

A leading food and beverage company, operating in more than 180 countries, was facing anemic growth and lackluster innovation success. They sought BCG's help to reignite their growth engine.

The first steps in their journey were charting a new innovation strategy and building needed innovation capabilities.

Together with the client, the BCG team initially launched an innovation diagnostic. The diagnostic revealed a number of opportunities for improvement. First, the client lacked a common language to enable innovation discussions and guide aspirations. There was no defined innovation strategy. Innovation projects were resourced with little forethought, and the innovation agenda tended toward the needs of the next quarter; longer-term aspirations were sidelined. In consequence, the company focused too many resources on incremental innovation—and far too few on the kinds of investments that would drive breakout growth.

BCG and the client jointly defined a new innovation strategy and portfolio-evaluation framework that categorized innovation initiatives by “type” (e.g., product, package, service) and their “distance from the core” (e.g., line extensions vs. new brands). Together, a plan to enable the organization to bring the strategy to life was developed.

In one module of the work, joint BCG-client teams traveled to the company's major markets to cocreate the new innovation strategy with local innovation teams through a series of in-depth workshops. The objective of these workshops was to enlist the global commercial leadership and identify the innovation portfolio requirements needed to meet long-term business aspirations—and build the client's innovation capabilities. Over the course of these sessions, BCG's role decreased while that of the client's center-led SWAT teams increased to the point that they could run them independently. By the end of the process, the executive leadership and innovation team had defined, built, and owned a new innovation strategy in a matter of a few months. Along the way, they enlisted the organization and charted a new course for innovation.

The strategy served as a basis for a fundamental redesign of the client's innovation system. With new clarity on strategic direction and requirements for success, the joint BCG-client team was able to design resourcing, processes, organizational constructs, incentives, and talent requirements to enable the new innovation ambition. In one module of work, the joint BCG-client team built regional growth centers, each designed to attack a specific domain of breakout innovation opportunity. This process again played out with BCG's role decreasing over time as the client's role increased ultimately to the point where they could operate independently.

As a result of our innovation enablement partnership, the client relaunched its innovation capability, with significant results:

  • A new definition of innovation, with clear guidelines for where to play and not to play.
  • A robust and clear innovation strategy, rooted in corporate aspirations and the commercial needs of priority markets.
  • A team of innovation leaders with improved strategic, analytical, communication, and facilitation capabilities—and with increased ownership and clear accountabilities.
  • Organization-wide buy-in to the new innovation ambition, and a rallying cry to achieve that ambition.
  • Regional innovation centers focused on breakthrough ideas to address key market trends.
  • A 30% improvement in innovation resource efficiency in "near-in" innovations—with new savings used to redeploy resources against regional growth centers with no incremental cost.
Innovation & Product Development
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