Innovation at Heinz
A Heinz case study

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Page 3: Research

Heinz 3 Image 1Conventional organisations operate by using a range of detailed techniques for examining the past, present and likely future performance of the organisation. For example, structured research is used to identify consumer demand and methods of reducing production and distribution costs. The organisation uses gap analysis to estimate the difference between its potential and actual performance and techniques such as benchmarking, to find out what the best practices are in a particular line of business. It will then try to ensure that it meets these benchmarks.

The advantage of using this measurement approach is that it is predictable and safe. It can be planned and enables the organisation to exploit existing advantages. However, such an approach tends to create few, if any, large benefits. It creates a mentality of catching-up with rivals rather than of step change innovation. The emphasis is placed on procedures and techniques rather than creativity and may mean the organisation loses sight of its consumers.

In contrast, the world of madness is quite different. It involves the deliberate randomness of stimulus and often means defying logic in order to make a new type of sense. Creating policy and new ideas will frequently be based on agenda-less listening rather than careful planning. Meetings will often appear somewhat disorganised and less hierarchical so that anyone can contribute even though they may not claim to have a great deal of expertise in a specific field.

Objectives of the innovation programme

The creation of the innovation programme at Heinz involved a certain amount of ‘measure’ - in order to establish the objectives and evaluate the success of the programme. The initial objectives were to:

  • create two to five products, over a nine month period, which were real innovations
  • expose Heinz innovators to new processes and start to make Heinz a more innovative culture itself.

Before the programme was introduced, it was decided that:

  • new, exciting products would represent 10% of Heinz's operational income by the year 2002
  • a working culture would be established which had the ability to switch between measure and madness at the appropriate times
  • Heinz would look physically different.

Heinz | Innovation at Heinz