GE Innovation: How GE Plastics Discovered New Markets
GE Plastics hired a consulting firm to help them understand a good way to enter new markets. They encountered plenty of manufacturers who were skeptical and reluctant to participate in the related studies. The manufacturers were mainly concerned about their privacy and eventually they agreed to audio taping Â? but declined to participate in video taped sessions. The key that opened up the path for them to continue was their hope that GE would become a supplier to the industry and help their companies.
The consultants interviewed a wide range of employees from their manufactures, including presidents, managers and engineers that focused in the textile industry. The consultants used a light ethnographic research method Â? they toured offices and photographed production plants and individuals working.
GE made a 180-degree turn after the research ended a year later. The research had yielded some insights it discovered that the fibers industry was an innovative and highly collaborative industry. The driving collaboration between the artisans and the customers brought together ideas and experimentation to innovate the fabrics.
GE now collaborates with their fabric customers by sharing prototypes with them and with engineers for problem solving. GEÂ?s break into the fabrics market was a success with fabric manufacturers as GE was able to leverage a win-win dynamic with them. Now the fabric manufacturers see the direct value of collaborating with GE, as new opportunities flourish from their joint efforts. This research also led to the discovery of an innovative cultural dynamic between the artisans and their customers. The consultants for GE were able to collect anecdotes of innovation such as that of engineers pulling off the road to pick up plants to experiment with them on the fiber-processor.
Author of Innovation Strategies of the World’s Most Innovative Companies. Analyzes the innovation strategies of P&G, Apple, IDEO, eBay, GE, Gillette, IBM, Nokia, Philips, Samsung, Target, Toyota, IKEA, Virgin, and companies nominated by BusinessWeek Magazine as the “World’s Most Innovative Companies” ©2006 Daniel Montano.
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