Joe Kanfer GOJO CEO shares Innovation Secrets

On October 24th MAGNET teamed up with Brouse McDowell to host the first Manufacturing Executive Session at Brouse’s offices in Akron. The speaker for this session was Joe Kanfer, CEO of GOJO Industries, who delivered an amazing presentation on how GOJO successfully innovates. Joe laid out his 5 key ingredients for successful innovation:

Drive out Fear
Innovative companies develop a culture of confidence not fear. They reduce negative repercussions that come along with employees presenting new ideas and/or offering ways to improve things. Joe’s statement was “don’t get stuck in the middle”, don’t let fear paralyze you. In order to successfully innovate, get out from behind the computer, go visit your customers, stop making assumptions and start asking them the questions directly.

Conduct Customer Research
Innovation comes from understanding the work processes of your customers, knowing how they operate (ethnography), and delivering value by solving their problems. While you are “driving out fear” study the environment of your customers, investigate how your products are used, and look for other opportunities. Other opportunities will present themselves if you analyze your products before use or shortly after use.

Watch Future Technology Trends
Innovation doesn’t happen in a bubble. Technology is evolving fast, you need to be ahead of the technology curve and have great timing to truly innovate. Joe has a people on staff at GOJO that study the technology trends in each of their key market segments, so the company can ideate along with the technology, not against it.

Manage the Hard Stuff and the Soft Stuff
Innovation is more than just technology, it needs to be humanized. Joe mentioned it’s not just the functional benefits of GOJO’s products that made the company successful, a large part of the success comes from the way GOJO’s products make its customers feel. Know the emotional aspects of your customer. For instance Joe initially wanted to call GOJO’s famous hand sanitizer “Flash” to brand the speed of sanitizing your hands. However, Joe finally settled on the name “Purell”, to brand the feeling the product makes the customer feel.

Fail Fast, Fail Cheap
Innovation requires less big ideas and more small ideas. Making small successes and failures along the way reduces the risk of having one very large failure later on. Joe’s policy is “on purpose, don’t be too prepared”. Presenting smaller ideas more frequently reduces the need to over invest in preparing.

Does your company use any of these innovation tactics? What other tactics do you use?
For more information on the topic of innovation click here or give us a call at 216-391-7766

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Posted by Sam Wasylyshyn in Culture, Innovation

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