Innovare's Tech Explorer at Sealed Air


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This is a case study on how Sealed Air is using Innovare's Tech Explorer approach as part of their open innovation program. The show was co-presented by Blaine Childress of Sealed Air and Don Ross of Innovare at the PDMA's Innovate Carolina conference in May of 2012.

The presentation describes how the Tech Explorer is helping Sealed Air break out of a "quick fix" approach to problem solving which often goes after the wrong problem with a less than effective technical solution.

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Innovare's Tech Explorer at Sealed Air

  1. 1. Beyond Tilting at Windmills:Breaking the “quick fix” cycle through technology discovery April 20th, 2012
  2. 2. Speakers Blaine Childress – Sealed Air’s Manager of Open Innovation – 32 years in Technology and Innovation – Focus on technology protection, product innovation, and technology scouting – Role of project leader and problem owner – Don Ross – Innovare’s Founder and President – 35 years as an innovation practitioner – Focuses on the front end of innovation including discovery, concept development and validation – Role of team facilitator and process owner –
  3. 3. Sealed Air – Legacy of Innovation “We take pride in our history of pioneering new technologies and applications and earning our value with customers through unique inventive solutions”Dr. Ann Savoca, Vice President, Technology and Innovation• 56 labs, 500 Scientists, 4600 patents• 17% of Sales from New Products and ServicesBut we feel the pressure• New Global Competitors• Poor macroeconomics• Rising Raw Materials Cost• Faster Innovation
  4. 4. The New Normal ? – Tight budgets – Lowering head counts – Long project lists – Quick to market development timelines – Risk averse climate – Short Term Spending Focus Stocks Are Up…But It Doesn’t Feel Like It
  5. 5. Demands on R&D Shifting and ConflictingThe business is demanding innovation but… – Greater workload, changing project mix results in less time to think/analyze – Demands of short term business needs overshadow broader innovation agenda – Pressure for quick results conflicts with ability to explore new technologies related to customer needs
  6. 6. The Unintended Consequence • A Quick answers culture is systemic/pandemic - firefighting today’s burning problem “An engineer or scientist identifies a defect that can be fixed with some change to formulation or process condition, and then moves on to the next urgent matter. Seldom is real effort applied to finding the root of the problem and a fundamental solution.”• Avoid pursuing novel, untried solutions outside the boxResult: Limited scope of innovation
  7. 7. Keeping in the Comfort Zone Relying on existing “comfort” models for solutions, leveraging what we already know and can readily apply Challenges that make life Comfort worthwhile and Zone interesting• The comfort zone mentality approaches problems using a current capability mindset – Appears to be faster, cheaper, and quantifiable, plus easier to get mgt. support• But, more costly in the long run – Problems return – Current methods/solutions no longer satisfactory – Subject to disruptive change by another – Capacity for Innovation is limited to incremental change
  8. 8. Our Process ChallengeHow to increase technology innovation with less time and money?
  9. 9. Other People’s Money & Minds• Increase innovation capacity while reducing R&D costs and time by reaching out to external expertise and inventions
  10. 10. a Forum for Technology Discovery• Connect to customer needs• Engage multidisciplinary team• Provide a strong external perspective• Move beyond what is already known• Broaden the opportunity space• Apply SerendipitySAC adapted Innovare’s Tech Explorer technology discovery approach
  11. 11. Technology and Customer Needs Intersection Customer Needs Technology Advances in science and technology have a dynamic relationship with customer needs • Tech can be used to create solutions that satisfy existing needs • Tech can reshape the environment, creating new sets of needs Advances drive needs the customer doesn’t even know they have
  12. 12. Technology Discovery with ExpertsTech Explorer Multidisciplinary team process of discovery driven by R&D and supported by marketingThree PhasesPhase 1 Secondary Research - intriguing technologies that might address key customer needsPhase 2 Discovery with the Experts – exploring the state of the art and future trajectory of selected technologiesPhase 3 Synthesis – creating concepts for applying the technology, prototypes, and a road map for bringing in the technology to drive innovation
  13. 13. Phase 1 Tech Explorer – Secondary Research Categorized UV Resist 20 years Delighter ??? Technology Requirement level • Begin with a customer need • Brainstorm / hypothesize scientific principles that might be applied to deliver product attributes at desired levels • Generate a list of technologies that relay on the scientific principles • Select the most intriguing technologies to research
  14. 14. Individual Team Member Assignments - Tech Briefings • Each team member takes one or two topics • Explores topics using secondary sources – internet, reports… etc. • Creates briefings – what is the technology, the IP landscape – how might the technology evolve – how might it be applied to create solutions – who are the experts
  15. 15. Socializing the Tech Briefings • Workshop environment - 8 – 10 topics • Team members present their briefings • Team create a synthesis of findings with implications & next steps • Select experts to work with in Phase 2
  16. 16. Phase 2: Discovery with the Experts• Reached out to external experts representing targeted science & technology areas• Held workshops with experts, exploring the state of the art, clarifying, and anticipating trajectories of their technologies • Brainstormed implications, applications, and impact on needs • Created beginning technology application concepts
  17. 17. Phase 3: SynthesisIncubation time involving several rounds of technology application concept refinement • Research and problem solving to build concept feasibility • Prototype and test solutions • Vet the list of opportunities to a few feasible solutionsBuilding the case for the technology • Outline the development or acquisition approach, timing, costs • Define the technology’s impact on the customer & competitive environment • Show anticipated connections of the technology to future product lines • Project the impact on the business
  18. 18. Case Ready Example• Mature business – ramp up innovation in established business - Modified Atmosphere Packaging for meat• Problem to Solve/ “Customer Need” - extend shelf life (4 days to over 14 days) by presenting bright red color longer
  19. 19. Case Ready Phase 1 Example Secondary Research• Team members conducted literature research on selected topics and created tech briefings & identified external experts• Several hundred patents, journal articles, internet sites – Topics ranged from oxygen complexing in blood, to contact lens design, to manufacture of complex integrated circuits
  20. 20. Farm Film Example• Plasticulture refers to using plastic products in agriculture to improve crop quality, yield and conserve water• Potential new market for Sealed Air
  21. 21. Farm Film Example Phase 2 Discovery with the Experts• 2-day workshop with university and industry experts, both live and via web link – Extension Agents – Tyvek manufacturing process – Fumigant chemistry – Moisture sensors – Medical Tubing• Proposed possibilities for use of Sealed Air technical strengths
  22. 22. Phase 3 Outputs – Concepts and Road Maps• Technology application concepts – Not fully fleshed out solutions but a representation of what we could do with the technology• Road maps relate the technologies to future New Market Product Line and Technology Potential Technologies product lines Advanced Design Green T New T1 New T2 UV Current Technology Extrusion – Shows timing when technologies could be Thermal Distillation ready and the enabled new products Time Line 2007 Product Lines 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Advanced New Gen 2 Gen 3 Gen 4 Gen 1 Platform Enhanced Design New Products First Generation Enhanced Second Generation
  23. 23. Phase 3 Output - Technology Vision of the FutureCreative team exercise using future news article format … “Dateline 2017” p ts i s ru p e D et !! Ta ark M
  24. 24. Foundations of a Successful Tech Discovery Approach • Well connected to customer needs • Engaged multidisciplinary team • Strong external perspective • Broad opportunity space • Diligent use of synthesis process to identify value paths • Embrace well considered sciences and pursue opportunities outside the comfort zone
  25. 25. Lessons Learned- Make Time For SynthesisWind Energy Example• Only 4 weeks to explore windmill blade protection strategies• Quick fix mentality truncated the process – Eliminated incubation and synthesis time – Cultivated closed-minded thinking Team reverted back to just applying what they already knew with little to show for the effort, and yielding obvious solution approaches that would not differentiate
  26. 26. In Tough Times We’re Providing More Bang For The Innovation Buck• We’re shifting from quick fixes to developing deeper understanding• We’re identifying strong solutions, never considered by internal experts “Our synthesis is more successful when an independent facilitator prods the team to dive deep, explore and consider different perspectives, achieve a shared understanding of the problems and possible solutions; and then present action plans and reports.”
  27. 27. Thank You
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