Innovation - getting your employees on side

By | February 10, 2011

wewowGuest blog by Rebecca Ruddock, marketing executive of wewow which makes bespoke and eco-friendly CD and DVD packaging. Wewow has a close relationship with Bradford University School of Management – taking MBA students to carry out projects, going on the School’s courses and using the School’s resources

Constant innovation – every employee can deliver

Over the past six years wewow has gone from being a supplier of high-quality CD and DVD cases to an all-singing, all-dancing CD and DVD replication and duplication company. We differentiate ourselves with bespoke and eco-friendly packaging for companies such as Amazon and BBC Worldwide.

envelopes

The development of the new packaging has been a creative journey and we have had to learn about completely new areas such as sustainable board, environmentally friendly printing and ingenious design. We have to keep constantly changing and learning – and managing the innovation process is now a key strategic business issue.

So what do we do to encourage innovation?

1. No idea is a bad idea

We start from the point of view that every member of our team has something to contribute to new ideas to keep our products ahead of the market.

We have notice boards around the office and pin up everyone’s ideas as well as cuttings and information on eco products and materials from other industries. There is something new every day.

Boards and suggestion boxes are notorious for starting out enthusiastically and then interest waning over a period.

We’ve kept ours energised in a number of ways

We have a monthly competition with a prize or voucher for the best idea

Every idea is taken seriously and discussed

In our weekly meetings we discuss the ideas and tell everyone how they are being progressed

2. Examples of innovation

Ideas from our team include

A way to achieve short-runs by finding a new card that would go through printers

A suggestion to have an eco-calculator on our website so that customers can calculate the potential carbon savings of changing from plastic packaging to eco-friendly solutions – we are trialling a first step on this

A bio-degradable tray to go in jewel CD cases to hold the CDs firm – this is being developed at the moment

We see innovation as being more about lots of small new ways every day to improve our products, service, website, processes – rather than a few occasional, big ideas.

cd

3. Encouraging clients to challenge us

A lot of our innovation comes from accepting challenges from our clients. One client wanted a completely new package for an EP on a merry-go-round. We came up with a really clever spiral – and in fact it was not only great as a theme for the product, we also realised it needed no tray, no glue and had no plastic. So very environmentally friendly! And it is really eye-catching.

We are now developing this into a new range of products which are both aesthetic and cost-effective.

pics

We were recently finalists in the Business Commitment to the Environment (BCE) awards, partly because of this design and our sustainable creativity.

Working with our business school in Bradford

We are lucky to have the north’s top business school on our doorstep – Bradford University School of Management – and we have a really great relationship with them.

Last year we took on an MBA student , Yuvaraj Eswaran , to help us develop an exporting strategy – he was really great and we are in the process of implementing this.

yazA number of us have been on courses at the School and are looking to see what else they can offer us.

Our business has ambitious plans and to position ourselves as the leading suppliers of eco-friendly packaging. We will only do this through constant innovation – and all of our team have a role to play in our development.

We’d love to hear other organisations’ tips on how they keep innovating.

3 thoughts on “Innovation - getting your employees on side

  1. Yuvaraj Eswaran

    This is a well articulated post on how innovation is carried out at Wewow. Among the SME organizations I have seen, Wewow stands out because of its penchant for learning and the organizational culture adopted. This little difference in organizational behaviour differentiates a growing organization from a stagnated/dissolved organization. And Wewow is moving along the trajectory of achieving sustainable growth.

    Innovation can be generally classified as ‘product innovation’ and ‘process innovation’. It can be inferred from the article that product innovation at Wewow is primarily driven by market demand, which is of no surprise for a bespoke supplier. Alternatively, more ‘supply push’ innovation can be carried out using internal capabilities, collaborating with external agencies or making use of market knowledge.

    A primary market research would help to understand the market demand and identify the untapped market space. The market intelligence would enable Wewow to be more innovative. But gathering market information is a costly process, which means the product developed should be capable of catering mass market in order to achieve break even. Here Wewow’s position to supply mass market should also be taken into consideration.

    I have recently come across a business with a collaborative business model. The business invites designs from freelancers, absorbs the manufacturing risk and pays royalty to the designers based on the volume of product sold. This not only enables the business to constantly create new product/designs but also encourages the freelancers to be more creative, which results in a win-win situation for all stakeholders.

    Similar to challenges received for product development; if the existing processes are questioned then operational efficiency can be improved. This can be simplified by breaking down the process across the value chain from product development to product delivery, etc and identifying the best possible ways of doing them. This process improvement can either increases the customer satisfaction or saves cost for the organization.

    All these may not be directly applicable for Wewow but thinking on these lines would help to effectively achieve the business goals.

    All the best for the future endeavours of Wewow.

  2. Christos Kalantaridis

    The case of Wewow illustrates a couple of very good points for innovation in smaller companies. Innovative from its inception Wewow adopts a process of continuous advancement and change. In doing so it has been particularly successful in:

    Keeping the people working in the company energised and enthused. Taking all ideas seriously, and explaining how ideas are progressed (or why they are not as undoubtedly is the case sometimes) makes employees feel valued: individuals with a stake in the success of the business. We all know that it is only a small minority of ideas that succeed, the majority do not survive rigorous scrutiny or the process of implementation. This makes it even more important to ensure the continuous flow of ideas from individuals working in Wewow.

    Involving clients in the innovation process: inviting them to provide new challenges for the company. This ensures that innovations are relevant and will be taken up – improving business performance.

    However, this brings to the fore a key challenge – a balancing act that must be performed by innovative businesses. Involving clients in innovation can help address the needs that clients are aware off. However, it is often the case that clients may not be aware of new needs that are just around the corner: changes in legislation, new technologies or changing consumer tastes. This necessitates the business both working with clients but at the same time trying to remain one .. or maybe two steps ahead of them.

  3. Superb Search

    Tremendous case study bringing to life the process of innovation to a recent graduate like myself.

    In relation to the industry I have gone into, I don’t see your website ranking highly for the keyword “eco friendly packaging”. You say that one of your business goal is to become the leading supplier of eco friendly packaging. Obviously you will be using other marketing channels, but search marketing is one you should definitely look into to meet your stated business goal. Just imagine how many people access their potential suppliers through search engines and then think about how quickly people are moving from business directories and publications to just simply using search engines for their search queries. Match that up with how many potential clients you can access through this marketing channel & you’ll be taking a big step towards reaching your stated business goal.

    Great blog and all the best!

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