Wanted: Passion and champions

By SiemensPLM

Our task was to assemble a panel discussion for the GMA Executive Conference with executives from outside of the CPG F&B industry to give their prospective on successful innovation. And what a diverse and fantastic group of leaders we brought together!

Embola Ndi of Disney Consumer Products shares best practices. part of the panel Igniting Innovation

Embola Ndi from Disney Consumer Products, Kathy Lenhoff from Loblaw Brands, Chuck Millsaps from retailer Great Outdoor Provision Company and Rick Leaman from Osram/Sylvania. This diverse group of c-suite executives shared their insights and best practices, in what was an inspiring discussion.

Some key points:

Passion is key for successful innovation. Passion is not particularly quantifiable and measurable and is therefore sometimes overlooked as a key ingredient to successful innovation. Yet several examples were shared about someone, a champion, who believed passionately in an idea which ultimately became a breakthrough innovation. Did you know that Walt Disney had to use his personal funds to launch the first theme park?  With breakthrough innovation, it is often difficult to persuade business executives and financiers of the potential of an idea.

Dirt to Shirts. Sustainability and innovation go hand in hand. Great Outdoor Provision Co. recognized their customers are highly aware and engaged in living a more sustainable lifestyle. While the average t-shirt travels 18,000 miles from point of origin to the retail shelf, GOPC offers a t-shirt where the cotton is grown, turned into fabric and sewn in North Carolina, and by the time it is on shelf has traveled 700 miles. Consumers can go online and meet the farmers who grew their shirts.

Loblaws, the leading grocer in Canada, helped us understand that successful innovation requires “a funnel of innovation, not a tunnel of innovation“. Having hurdle rates, the discipline to evaluate against the hurdles and the courage to kill off ideas that won’t meet the hurdle rate is tough to do, and yet critical for success.

And did you know that Siemens division Osram/Sylvania is the proud recipient of 2 oscars and an emmy? Thanks to their breakthrough technology in lighting for movie and television, the accuracy of the light spectrum speeds the shot set up times and low heat levels generated by lighting prevent extra time for re-applying make up and fixing hair.  Rick Leaman added, that leaders must enable speed and efficiency to the innovation process by removing layers, and streamlining the process.

It was Siemens pleasure to assemble this group and moderate the discussion on the critical topic of Innovation.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at