Innovation at Heinz
A Heinz case study

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Page 4: Culture

Heinz 3 Image 2Heinz is working towards creating an innovation culture which encourages the development of new ideas. New and different approaches are taken when tackling issues and time is made available for thinking and experimenting. Ideas and suggestions are welcomed from all directions, both internally and externally. Understanding and meeting the needs of consumers is central to this culture.

The introduction of a new culture will not, of course, happen overnight. It has been one of ‘change by doing’ - involving as many people as possible in new product development so they can experience and understand this new way of working and thinking.

The first stage of bringing about innovation in any large organisation involves finding out about the personnel’s perceptions of the possibility of innovating within that organisation. Many large organisations find that their personnel:

  • do not believe their environment is conducive to different thinking
  • feel hampered by the company’s existing processes
  • feel they are not equipped with the necessary skills to innovate
  • have little belief in their own and the organisation's ability to innovate.

At Heinz, a number of barriers to innovation were identified in an audit of existing practice, including:

  • a low prioritisation amongst senior management
  • resistance to ideas. New ideas did not always work through the system because the organisation had become hierarchical with a top down approach. Over time, therefore, people suggested fewer new ideas.
  • fear of failure in the organisation. People were often reluctant to take responsibility for new product
  • development in case the ideas did not work.
  • an over concentration on narrow financial targets which were often of a short term nature. People were not always prepared to take longer term risks which eventually lead to the ‘big wins.’
  • a feeling that the organisation was not effectively listening to consumers.

Heinz | Innovation at Heinz