Innovation at Heinz
A Heinz case study

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Page 5: Introducing change

Heinz 3 Image 3A number of key actions were identified to remove some of the barriers to innovation and to turn the organisation and its culture around. One of the major requirements of effective change was that individuals in the organisation should be given more time and encouragement to come up with new ideas. It was recognised that many employees were too busy to innovate properly. The emphasis therefore changed to allow employees to be creative. For example:

  • The chefs’ work programme now includes time to experiment in the kitchen on innovation ideas.
  • The working environment has been improved - making it more conducive to creativity.
  • New consumer research techniques are being employed, making communication with consumers easier and quicker.

The Human Resources Department is also examining recruitment, induction, training and leadership programmes to identify new approaches which will encourage, develop and recognise the skills required to deliver successful innovations. The innovation programme can thus be seen as a catalyst to change the culture of the organisation.

Another important development has been the creation of a Heinz Innovation Fresh Ideas Folder which provides a central collection point for ideas within the organisation. Individuals and teams are encouraged to contribute ideas to the folder. The emphasis is placed on ‘step developments’ i.e. major, new ideas which will propel the organisation forward.

Innovative products

New product ideas have been generated from numerous sources – from employees’ suggestions, brainstorming sessions and work with consumers and other external sources. These ideas have been grouped and prioritised into 50 broad ‘zones of interest.’ A small number of lead zones have been established for more detailed development. Throughout the process, Heinz constantly refers to its consumers. Many of the ideas being researched have been submitted by employees so it is vital that the ideas and products do meet true consumer needs and expectations. Subsequent stages involve the further development of these products with a continuous programme of consumer research to refine the full marketing programme for them.

According to a Heinz News Release: “Everyone likes beans, everyone likes Shepherd’s Pie, but not everyone likes cooking.” The innovative answer was the creation of ‘Baked Bean Cuisine’ - incorporating Heinz Baked Beans into a range of traditional recipes such as Sausage Hot Pot, Cheesy Pasta Bake and Lamb Hot Pot. It is even possible to buy Baked Beans Pizza!

Innovation at Heinz is not just limited to Baked Beans. Barbie Pasta Shapes, targeted at three to ten year old girls, come in bright pink packaging with a starry hologram effect. The product was launched with the offer of a Barbie watch - after collecting tokens, thus encouraging brand loyalty and repeat purchases.

Further innovations include flavoured Purified Water for babies and the introduction of the Baby Basics range of infant feeding accessories. New product launches are planned for 1998 and 1999. As the products move towards launch, more and more Heinz employees are involved in the innovation process. In order to enhance the process, increased emphasis is placed on encouraging creativity within the organisation.

In addition to including ‘creativity time’ for chefs and identifying creativity skills as a key competence within recruitment, induction, assessment and leadership, Heinz is continuing to extend creativity skills training across all functions of the Company. The working environment is being made more conducive to creativity by the introduction of ‘creativity areas.’

Heinz | Innovation at Heinz