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Innovation Delivered

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					                          Innovation Delivered
                     How Mott’s Put Innovation to Work
                                     by Adam Shames

Arlene Meritz wanted to make innovation a way of life at Mott’s. It was the summer of
2001, and the nation’s leading producer of branded applesauce and apple juice had
already put together a cross-functional innovation initiative team that had recommended
company-wide training. Meritz, the vice president of organizational development and
administration, searched the marketplace for the kind of training that would result in
powerful—and permanent—culture change. She heard success stories about a process
called Creative Problem Solving (CPS) and the name of one of its leading practitioners:
Blair Miller. She made the call.

That fall, Mott’s launched the company-wide Creative Problem Solving training
initiative. Blair Miller & Associates (BMA) began the rollout by training a small group of
key influencers to serve as in-house innovative facilitators. This elite team would
eventually help revolutionize the way the entire company came up with new ideas,
strategies and products.

The Creative Problem Solving approach—often referred to as CPS—is a structured
problem-solving process that has emerged from more than 50 years of research. “CPS
provides a common language and a set of tools so that an organization can build internal
capability for ongoing innovation,” explains Blair Miller, whose Chicago-based training
and consulting firm has been helping bring creativity to companies for the past decade.
“We designed the engagement so that they don’t need us for long, but the results last.”

The CPS process is now used at Mott’s throughout North America, from board rooms in
Stamford, Connecticut to plants in Tecaté, Mexico. “CPS has already had a profound and
lasting effect on Mott's,” says President Brad Irwin. “It has helped unlock the passion
and creativity of Mott's employees at all levels and functions. We've found the approach
to be extremely flexible and have used it in many different problem-solving situations.”


Mott’s and the Innovation Challenge

According to a recent Harvard Business School study, 80% of senior executives surveyed
rated “becoming more innovative” as one of their top three priorities for achieving
company success, with more than 90% noting innovation as “critical to creating future
competitive advantages and earning profits.” Nevertheless, about two-thirds of the
executives were not satisfied with their company’s innovation efforts. Mott’s knew that
innovation was essential to keeping its competitive advantage in its four major consumer
markets—fruit and vegetable juice/drinks, cocktail mixers, snacks and ingredients.
Supported by its forward-thinking parent company Cadbury Schweppes, President Irwin,
Meritz and other Mott’s leaders fully embraced the challenge of innovation.
They created an Innovation Development Initiative (INDI for short, with Indiana Jones as
theme), which spawned a Cultural Enablers team, to address how to build and sustain
innovation throughout the entire culture. “We wanted to increase creativity in all
employees at Mott’s,” says Meritz. That meant changes in structure, communication and
physical space to encourage collaboration. It also meant taking advantage of the diversity
of styles among managers and employees. The Cultural Enablers also stood behind the
strategy of developing an internal network of facilitators to increase ownership and assure
champions throughout the organization.

The CPS process, Meritz found, fit their needs perfectly. “Blair offered a set of tools for
employees and facilitators to work together—and which leveraged a diversity of styles.
The tools and methodology could be used for any type of problem that requires new and
imaginative thinking.”

With training from BMA, Mott’s created its own network of 25 facilitators, who soon
became the experts, leading CPS problem-solving and ideation sessions. These in-house
facilitators were first used to lead breakout groups at the company’s innovation kickoff in
February of 2002. On that day, Mott’s unveiled the CPS process to more than 500
employees. They all took part in a hands-on creative team challenge. Each team was
debriefed by one of the newly trained facilitators. The kickoff, which included
facilitation by Miller and a keynote address by innovation expert Roger Firestien, not
only solidified the company’s commitment to innovation but also saved Mott’s thousands
of dollars by using their own staff as facilitators.

Following the kickoff, all salaried employees participated in a two-day training program,
where they put their own current business or personal challenges to the CPS test.
Individually, they experienced impact of using a deliberate process for creative problem
solving, and together, they learned a common language and set of tools that would help
them achieve the desired cultural shift.

The Early Impact of CPS

Even as the employee trainings rolled out, the internal facilitators were already busy
using CPS for a variety of business challenges. “I've done about nine major facilitations
since being trained, all of which involved CPS in one way or the other,” says Training
and OD Manager Aditi Joshi. “CPS has helped Mott’s in numerous ways. It has helped
people think more broadly about issues and come up with solutions that they wouldn't
have thought of previously.”

New products, new names and new strategies have already resulted. “We use CPS all the
time,” says Strategic Planning Director Alan Owens. “Across the organization, CPS has
filled the pipeline of innovative products that will ultimately go to market. I’ve
absolutely seen an increase in the number of new products we’ve come up with. We use
it not only for ideation around specific business issues but also to augment our strategic
development processes and tools.”
Part of the original INDI team, Carmen Caccavale, manager of Consumer Care in the
Knowledge Management department, has been “CPSing for about a year” and finds it be
“fantastic,” both for the company and for her own life. She says, “The CPS process has
become a key enabler in accelerating the cultural changes we need for innovation to be
successful. It’s taught us all a much richer way of creatively attacking problems—by
asking the right questions and considering all alternatives.

“Personally,” she says, “It has really affected me greatly. The process has become so
ingrained for me that I’ve used it for my own family challenges, such as my son’s plans
for college. If we get to the right question, we end up with better, sometimes unexpected
solutions.”




CPS is “Contagious”

The flexibility of the CPS process is one of its great advantages. Mott’s has used
facilitated CPS sessions for various sessions throughout the past year—strategy mapping,
naming and ideation, cross-functional workgroups, board meetings. The plants have
taken CPS beyond products to process-oriented issues. The trained facilitators have even
acted as ambassadors of CPS to Cadbury Schweppes and their local supply chain. “CPS
is contagious—in a good way,” says Caccavale. As a newly minted facilitator, she helped
lead a very successful meeting for Cadbury Schweppes, where the money saved by using
in-house facilitators virtually paid for the entire week-long CPS facilitation training.

CPS also came into play during a recent company-wide initiative called “Unlock the
Mott's,” whose objective was to identify, by function, all the activities that impede
productivity, and focus on those that create value. “Participants found it very stimulating
and productive,” says Joshi. “Ideas flowed more smoothly, and the energy was
incredible.” Says Meritz, “It’s a great teambuilding tool for energizing a project team and
enhancing that team’s effectiveness.”

Meritz points out that Mott’s has showed its commitment to innovation by investing in all
employees. “Everyone is involved and contributes to solutions—in the plants, the supply
chain, finance, everywhere.” The result is unusual collaboration for a large company.

“CPS has been a key catalyst for initiating more collaboration and collaborative
thinking,” says Owens. “Sales now talks more with finance, and finance more with
marketing. R&D has more dialogue with the strategy group. It has helped us find new
and effective ways of both manufacturing products and getting those products to market.”


Delivered by Blair Miller
Unlike some other consulting firms, Blair Miller & Associates delivers innovation by
teaching a company how to innovate on its own. BMA trains employees, provides
needed CPS materials and manuals (even translating some into French and Spanish) and
then coaches the facilitation team members until they are ready to handle all innovation
sessions independently. Miller still enjoys fielding phone calls from facilitators he
trained months or years ago, who are looking for advice or tips on a particular facilitator
challenge. But he emphasizes that his goal is for companies to have no dependence on
him. “Fundamentally, we are teaching innovation empowerment tools,” says Miller, who
has coached numerous organizations and corporate divisions to integrate the CPS process
as a means to innovation.

“Mott’s has wholeheartedly embraced CPS,” explains Owens, “which is a testament to
how well Blair has taught us. CPS is now part of the fabric of our culture and how we do
business.” Joshi adds, “Working with Blair and his team has been great! As facilitators,
they were rated high by the participants. Blair has also been a wonderful guide when I've
needed assistance prior to a facilitation.”

In less than two years, CPS has clearly made a difference in how Mott’s operates.
Innovation is now very much a way of life throughout the entire company. “The CPS
tools and methodology are here to stay,” says Meritz. “Blair Miller & Associates has
been terrific in helping us drive the cultural change, and the cumulative impact on the
way we do business has already been considerable.”

				
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