General Electric could do for innovation what Ford did for factory production or Motorola did for process in developing Six Sigma.
Patia McGrath, marketing director at GE detailed specific tools, techniques and approaches to continuous corporate-level innovation. When CEO Jeffrey Immelt challenged GE to deliver 8 percent annual growth, it meant producing a $10-12 billion in value – roughly the size of Nike or British Airways. That doesn’t happen with a single Eureka!
You’ll be hearing more about CECOR, acronym for the process Calibrate, Explore, Create, Organize, Realize. CEC is strategy and OR is commercialization. Not an easy match when creativity has to play nicely with strategy and commercial development.
CEC can be repeated to refine learning and approaches. The entire spectrum is question-based: asking for information instead of listing assumptions and to-do lists. It’s important to recognize how much you don’t know and can’t predict.
“We take the opposite view when people say a giant company can’t be nimble,” McGrath told the Front End conference. GE uses a toolkit – including Idea Central – that combines idea markets, processes and events to support “Imagination Breakthroughs” or IBs.
With more than 100 IBs in the works, GE has also gotten comfortable with the idea that some initiatives fail – a very different approach than during the Jack Welch era.
TRIVIA ALERT – GE is the only company continuously listed in the Dow Jones Index since the index began in 1896.