Growth Strategies Seminar IX – Recap 4 of 4 – Rich Foods

You can download a PDF version of this here: Growth Strategies Seminar IX – Recap 4 of 4 – Rich Foods

Growth Strategies Seminar IX – Recap 4 of 4 – Rich Foods

By: Andrew Zenyuch, Innovative Issues Editor

Welcome to the last installment of recaps from our Growth Strategies Seminar IX. So far we’ve recapped presentations from Second City Communications, Liberty Hardware, and New Pig Corporation. In case you missed them, click the links above and check out the full presentations here:

Our final speaker of the day was Rob Kirwan from Rich Foods. Rob told the story of how Rich’s went through an Innovation Focus Discovery and Innovation™ program to look for new product ideas.

Rich’s has over 7000 business-to-business products in the food service industry, such as food products that are used by in-store bakeries and retail marketplaces. They had done some brainstorming in the past, but it was geared toward their current asset base and not connected to their customers. They wanted to get in touch with their customers to learn how they could make their lives easier when preparing food.

To do this, they conducted ethnographies in 5 major markets: Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Miami, and New York. They built profile sheets for each city to illustrate items that depicted the flavor of that city. They looked at the findings and built themes for the opportunity areas they wanted to ideate around.

After ideation, one big opportunity area emerged: one-handed dispensing of whipped toppings (like on an ice cream sundae or hot chocolate). Rich’s aggressively plotted their ideas from this theme on a path that would lead them to a very high impact and innovative idea.

By properly planning their ideas, Rich’s is well on their way to achieving the high impact ideas they plotted on the path. Please see the presentation for pictures of all these products.

First, they introduced the D-Disc™. The D-Disc™ goes on the end of a bag of whipped topping and is used to help squeeze the topping out, which results in 40% less waste of product.

Next, the Topping Tunnel™ was introduced. This mounts directly on the side of a preparation area to permanently hold the topping bag and use the D-Disc™ to dispense it.

Also introduced right around the same time was the Topping Caddy™, which holds the topping in a refrigerated area to help keep it cool.

Finally, Rich’s introduced the Whipped Topping Dispensing System™. This innovative device looks like a caulking gun and offers the one-handed dispensing Rich’s was searching for.

In the future, they’re looking to introduce ambient self-serving topping stations, which is a station that contains the whipped topping and allows the customer to apply it themselves. It’s amazing to look at these product ideas and know that all of them are packaging and delivery changes – not one involves altering the topping formula in any way.

While reconnecting with their customers, Rich’s was able to uncover an unmet need and an opportunity to be innovative. Through aggressive planning, they were able to take the product ideas generated to meet this need into a market success.

Growth Strategies Seminar IX – Recap 3 of 4 – New Pig

You can download a PDF version of this here: Growth Strategies Seminar IX – Recap 3 of 4 – New Pig

Growth Strategies Seminar IX – Recap 3 of 4 – New Pig

By: Andrew Zenyuch, Innovative Issues Editor

We hope you enjoyed learning how to utilize improvisation in business with Second City Communications and how Liberty Hardware incorporated a culture of innovation into their company from our Growth Strategies Seminar IX. In case you missed them, click the links above and check out the full presentations here:

For our 3rd presentation of the day, Doug Laplante shared with us 3 tools his company, New Pig, uses to gain a shared point of view that helps lead to the next innovative idea (or, as he calls it, the Ah-Ha).

The first tool he used is basic modeling that focused front end activities. The models New Pig use are a dot map and rigorous criteria. The dot map takes different opportunity areas, quantifies them, and maps them on a matrix. The bigger the dot, the bigger the opportunity. New Pig then uses criteria they set to judge each opportunity area. They are thorough with these criteria, trying to take into account many different points of view. If the opportunity area has a big enough dot and fit the criteria, they go after it; if not, they dropp it. The importance of this tool is they are not afraid to walk away from opportunities because they know the opportunities they were moving forward with are exactly what they’re looking for.

The second tool summarizes qualitative learnings to create a shared story. During their ethnographic visits, New Pig goes into different “dirty jobs” and tries to look for where the pain points are and what their opportunity is to help relieve that pain. And by dirty, they mean dirty – check out the presentation to see the picture from the metal shop and see just how dirty they mean. After their ethnographies, they comes together and talks about their findings. From there, they create very robust stories that illustrate these pain points and opportunities.

The third tool New Pig uses is one that helps with orthodoxies. They have a graph that asks 4 questions, which is illustrated in the presentation. The first question helps identify the orthodoxy by looking at things that a person with a unique point of view (such as an actor, an employee, a customer, etc.) would never say about a certain topic (a company, product, etc.). This lets New Pig view that topic through many different perspectives. The second documents these views and pulls them into different themes that immerge from the responses to the first question. The third question takes the orthodoxy and flips it to look at what wouldn’t be said from the first question. The fourth and final question looks at the implications of acting on one of these orthodoxies.

These 3 tools ensure that everyone involved with new product development at New Pig are on the same page with their opportunities and heading in the same direction. Doug challenges companies to take a look at their discovery efforts and asks if everyone involved is working from the same playbook.

In our final recap from Growth Strategies IX, we review Rob Kirwan from Rich Foods’ success story from their Discovery and Innovation efforts.

Growth Strategies Seminar IX – Recap 2 of 4 – Liberty Hardware

You can download a PDF version of this article here: Growth Strategies Seminar IX – Recap 2 of 4 – Liberty Hardware

Growth Strategies Seminar IX – Recap 2 of 4: Liberty Hardware

By: Andrew Zenyuch, Innovative Issues Editor

We hope you enjoyed last month’s recap of Second City Communication’s presentation from our Growth Strategies Seminar IX. If you missed it, you can find it on our website here: This month, we’re recapping Micah Ray’s representation, found here:

Micah Ray has successfully led the creation of a culture of innovation at Liberty Hardware. Liberty’s primary source of revenue growth was through retail store growth and new customers, not new products. As Wal-Mart has demonstrated, growth is limited through that model. As Liberty’s double digit revenue growth began to slow, senior management realized it was time to invigorate bottom line growth with product innovation. New ways of thinking and acting were needed.

The existing culture that Micah had to work with was a ‘warrior’ culture, in which new product development was a low priority and the brainstorming approach to developing ideas for new products was considered time-consuming and unproductive. In addition, focused thought was rare, ‘creativity’ had a bad name, and there was no process for evaluating and using ideas.

Liberty Hardware, and its parent company Masco, started at the top with strategic planning for innovation. The existing plan was revised to include innovation as a key pillar leading with new product development. To support the culture change, Masco created the Masco Innovation Grant Fund, making funds available to move ideas into the new product development process. Then came the really hard work of diligently refocusing personnel in four key areas:

  • New Jobs: Identifying the new innovation jobs to be done, assigning them to the right people and insisting on co-location of new product development teams
  • New Tools: Identifying and training everyone in the tools and techniques essential to successful new product development, especially at the front end
  • New Language: Publicizing the new vocabulary and ensuring that teams understood they had permission to ‘fail’ in order to improve processes and outcomes
  • New Experiences: Supporting end-user research and bringing in ideas from outside the company

Now, Micah says, innovation at Liberty Hardware is popping up all throughout the company. It’s focused on innovation in product and processes, and is helping rethink their entire business model. Liberty Hardware is ready to begin its second wave of focused change on their culture this year as a second push to keep up the innovation momentum.

Some rules that Micah learned along the way include:

  • Change metrics to avoid confusion, include long term projects, and be part of everyone’s performance evaluation
  • Give permission to fail and move forward with the learnings without adverse consequences to individuals
  • Properly recognize everyone who is part of a project team
  • Be disciplined and continuously sell the new culture of innovation components internally and innovatively
  • Find the right-size for number of projects with the available innovation team resources

In the end, the steps taken above led to industry-changing products for their self-admitted most boring product line (bath safety) and a new technology that doesn’t exist in the US today.

Next month, we review Doug LaPlante of New Pig Corporation’s presentation on 3 tools New Pig uses for innovation.

Growth Strategies Seminar IX – Recap 1 of 4 – Second City Communications

You can download a PDF version of this here: Growth Strategies Seminar IX: Recap 1 of 4 – Second City Communications

Growth Strategies Seminar IX: Recap 1 of 4 – Second City Communications

By: Andrew Zenyuch, Innovative Issues Editor

Our 9th Annual Growth Strategies Seminar took place on April 3rd at The Barn in Lancaster, PA. For those of you unfamiliar with Growth Strategies, each year we invite new product development professionals from many different organizations to come together to mingle, listen to presentations, talk about the current state of innovation and share experiences and tips that others can apply to their organization. Best of all – it’s free! If you’d like to receive information about next year’s Growth Strategies, please send an email here.

This year we assembled four speakers from very different backgrounds to share stories from their experience and teach new skills that attendees could apply within their companies. All the presentations as well as speaker bios and art created at the session can be downloaded from our website at:

This series of articles will summarize each presentation and share what we can learn from each presentation. Each presenter will get their own article.

Second City Communications kicked off the morning with exercises in improvisation and how they could be applied within companies to create an innovative culture. Bumper Carol led us through three activities: ‘yes and’, ‘co-creating a story’, and ‘creating a story using just one word’.

We started by partnering up. One person was to offer ideas to their partner, and the partner needed to say “no” to every idea. Next, the roles were switched, but instead of saying no, the partner was instructed to say “yes, but” to every idea and then say why the idea couldn’t be done. Finally, the roles were again switched and ideas were responded to with “yes, and” to each idea and building on the idea. “Yes, anding” taught us how unconditional positive regard can snowball into some very big (and out there) ideas very quickly. It also showed how negative language (no, yes but) can kill ideas before they have a chance to fully evolve. Bumper asked what was heard more in the audience’s organizations: “yes, but” or “yes, and”. He made sure the audience knew “yes, and” could be used in everyday business.

Next, Second City actors Steve and Kate invited Mark Wolf of Guardian Life Insurance and Marg Poynor of National Qualpec to participate in a skit. The actors began telling a story, and when they put a hand on Mark or Marg’s shoulder, they had to fill in the next line of the scene. This showed the value of co-creation: by involving the audience and giving them ownership of the content, the laughs increased. The same goes for new products – when customers take ownership in the creation of a product, they feel a sense of pride and will help you not only make a product they’re looking for, but talk about it with their friends as well.

Finally, we learned the value of teamwork and setting each other up for success through the One Word Story activity. Each table had to write a story, but could only do so one word at a time from each table member. One person started the story with one word, and then the person to their left continued the story by adding a word to it. My table’s letter was supposed to be a letter home from camp, but somehow came to involve owing our dad money and a strip club (some questions are better left unasked). It taught us to set each other up for success by treating each other as part of a team, or as Second City calls it, an ensemble. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” applies to the ensemble – in this exercise, by setting each other up for success, the story becomes better (and hopefully funnier). Teams within an organization can utilize this principle by treating themselves as an ensemble and, hopefully, accomplishing more by working together.

Through “yes, anding”, involving employees and customers in the creation process, and having a team that works together as an ensemble instead of individuals, you can set up a culture that promotes innovation within your organization. This is why Innovation Focus is collaborating with Second City. We believe that innovation takes not only a rigorous process like our own, but a shift in an organization’s everyday culture toward innovation.

Hopefully you find the principles outlined by Second City as valuable as we do and begin to try to implement them within your companies. Give it a shot next time you get the opportunity. At the very least you’ll get a few laughs from a co-worker when your story turns from a work retreat into discovering Atlantis (again, don’t ask).

Next month, we review Micah Ray of Liberty Hardware’s presentation on fundamentally shifting Liberty’s business model to one that harbors innovation.