Patrick Penfield, professor of supply chain practice at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, recently worked to implement a process for innovation at the Molson Coors Brewing Company. Penfield is also the director of executive education at Whitman. He teamed up with Hamish Walker, chief procurement officer of the Molson Coors Brewing Company. Together, they put in place a five-step process to drive procurement innovation.
Developing new and creative ideas is a constant challenge for all organizations. The need to come up with a revolutionary idea pressures companies on the executive level and it travels down the ladder. Despite its history of successful product innovation, Molson Coors found it challenging to continue producing unique products. As a result, Penfield encouraged Molson Coors to look to its suppliers to find innovation.
Penfield’s process includes hiring a procurement innovation manager to act as a communication liaison, briefing the suppliers in detail about the company’s brand. The theory is that once suppliers understand the brand, they can start to develop ideas unique to the company. All ideas go through development and must be approved by management to receive funding. Once a product launches, it is evaluated on a monthly basies, and continues to be reviewed annually.
Penfield is deliberate in creating a process that can be replicated in any business model. His research concludes that while it is rare to find a “home run idea,” companies should have a system in place to allow innovation on current projects, too. And, in order to remain relevant, businesses need to challenge themselves on a daily bases to broaden their horizons.
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