May 9

Innovation in action – Coors

Whose job is innovation? Is it up to the leaders at the top to stand on a platform announcing the innovation message; or perhaps it is the role of a few boffins lurking in a darkened room; or maybe even the sales team pushing to come up with a ‘new and exciting concept’? Well, if you’ve been following my blogs on a regular basis you’ll already know that I believe for a strong innovation culture to work, innovation is everyone’s job.

That’s right, everyone’s job. Everyone from the CEO to the cleaner; everyone from accounts to IT to sales and front line employees. No one is exempt and organisations which look to inculcate a culture of innovation need to ensure that the innovation message percolates throughout the organisation or it will fail. Let’s be clear, this is not just some ideal preached by innovation thought leaders, it is being practiced every day on the ground. Take Matt Bennett for example. Formerly of Molson Coors Brewery and now at SGK, Matt spoke on the SGK website in January to highlight his belief that innovation is for all. Matt believes that “corporations need to foster a culture that encourages every employee and every team to engage in creative, collaborative thinking every day.”

Matt may have moved on from Molson Coors but his belief in innovation for all lives on strongly in that company. Check out the company on the web and these two quotes spring out:

Whether it’s product innovation, innovative packaging, product design or brand innovation, Molson Coors is always looking for new ways to be great.”

At Molson Coors, we never stop learning from the people who drink our beer and delighting them will always be the biggest driver behind our innovation.”

And it doesn’t stop there. In February 2014 Molson Coors CEO, Peter Swinburn, said that innovation remains the company’s top priority in 2014. Partly that may be due to the fact that the company’s ‘innovation pipeline’ produced some 6% of all sales in 2013, but also because the organisation believes that to keep delighting customers requires innovation in an ever-changing world.

Whether it is packaging innovation, product innovation or brand innovation, Molson Coors understands the success which can follow on from adopting an innovation culture. But the company is also realistic about the challenges which innovation can bring. On its website under the heading ‘innovation starts and ends with our beer drinkers’ the company has posted some very interesting and thought provoking innovation content. Take the quote from the brewmaster for example who says, “A huge amount of innovation depends on failure and taking risks.” No pain, no gain is accepted in many areas of life but it is an area which has traditionally been shunned by mainstream business. But innovative, agile organisations need to accept failure as a learning point if they are to continually push back the boundaries.

Innovation action point…

Accepting failure as a means to a greater end is one of the cornerstones of a strong innovation culture. But aside from this, the chief lesson to be learned from the Molson Coors story is the way in which their customers are at the heart of everything they do.

It may be glib to say that when you are working in an arena which is strongly connected with relaxation and pleasure it is easier to please your customers than if you manage power grids or offer financial services but the lesson should be the same across every industry.

Putting the customer first, last and at the heart of every process and every decision is the key to innovation. Through insight, collaboration and agility; creating a product which meets customer needs and delivering it with exceptional levels of service and thought may not be the way you have worked in the past. But if you want to build a next generation organisation capable of surviving in an ever-changing world then innovation is the only way to go.

Everyone says they want or need to drive innovation but few actually do. If you want to be one of the few and you’ve got a question, ask Cris on or visit for more information.



Adaptability, Competitive Advantage, Innovation Culture, Innovation strategy

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