Kathy Fish at Procter & Gamble: Navigating Industry Disruption by Disrupting from Within
When Kathy Fish, Procter & Gamble's Chief Research, Development & Innovation Officer, and a 40-year company veteran, stepped into her role in 2014, she was concerned that the world's leading consumer packaged goods company had lost its capability to produce a steady stream of disruptive innovations. This, coupled with intensifying competition from more agile, digitally-savvy direct-to-consumer companies, convinced Fish that P&G needed to renew its value proposition. She believed it was essential that all 100,000 employees see innovation as their job, and that all aspects of the consumer experience-not only the product itself-be "irresistibly superior." But making this change would require wholesale transformation, which was challenging because P&G's business units had decision-making rights for their businesses. Thus, when she launched GrowthWorks, an initiative to bring lean innovation to scale at P&G, Fish designed it to be business unit-led and corporately-supported. Fish and her team tackled challenges as they emerged along the way, such as the need to adapt career systems. Fish took a "pull" versus "push" approach and it caught on like "wildfire," eventually producing a portfolio of over 130 projects, and momentum that led P&G to headline the Consumer Electronics Show for the first time. While progress indicators were strong, the business units still struggled to incubate innovations, and Fish feared that unless P&G's overall innovation performance management and reward systems changed, the new approach to innovation would not take hold in a sustainable way. Fish grapples with whether to take a more "push" approach and add innovation metrics to the business unit presidents' annual scorecards, which typically focused on short term deliverables.
- 2020 HBS
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