Embedding an Innovation Culture Inside Johnson & Johnson

by Michael Graber

Embedding an Innovation Culture Inside Johnson & JohnsonDerick Kurdy from J&J and Neel Tilak from Janssen discuss the potency of an innovation culture and how it works with key suppliers.

The talk began with a story about the Band Aid, about how the inventor made it as a act of love for his wife. The moral of the story; innovations start with a need that is cared for and executed for a real problem.

Robert Wood Johnson built innovation into the company’s Credo and culture of Johnson & Johnson. It’s most recent manifestation is called Supplier-enabled Innovation (aka SEI).

Here’s how it works:

  1. Seek innovations wherever they may be.
  2. Suppliers empower innovation beyond one company’s existing ability.
  3. A culture of innovation needs to be present to accept ideas.
  4. Investing in suppliers with business insights grows the overall innovation capacity.

In 2007, pharma pipeline was drying up. J&J sought new product identification and development. In 2010 the program was named SEI (supplier-enabled innovation), claiming “together, we are more.” Began telling the multifaceted story of innovation at J&J internally to build the culture.

Boldly, they asked themselves, “what can we do across procurement to drive innovation across the enterprise?”

The team split innovations into three value-generating categories: Product, Business Model, and Process. Suppliers helped in all three areas. J&J shares the need and suppliers craft solutions. It has reached such popularity that there is now a coveted, annual supplier awards.

In 2012, the SEI team began to socialize their ethos to their 1000+ procurement professionals across the globe. As well, they invited fitting suppliers into the process of asset pipeline to ensure new technologies would be available once a product scales. They named it Advanced Sourcing & Innovation.

Now, in 2014, tethering the market growth drivers and corporate strategy with procurement capabilities and innovation is key to create value, lead with a purposeful pipeline, scale the globe, and execute as quickly as possible.

The future, the speakers contend, will be driven by customer and healthcare patients.

Embedding an Innovation Culture with SEI:: Johnson & JohnsonDerick Kurdy from J&J and Neel Tilak from Janssen discuss the potency of an innovation culture and how it works with key suppliers.

The talk began with a story about the Band Aid, about how the inventor made it as a act of love for his wife. The moral of the story; innovations start with a need that is cared for and executed for a real problem.

Robert Wood Johnson built innovation into the company’s Credo and culture of Johnson & Johnson. It’s most recent manifestation is called Supplier-enabled Innovation.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Seek innovations wherever they may be.
  2. Suppliers empower innovation beyond one company’s existing ability.
  3. A culture of innovation needs to be present to accept ideas.
  4. Investing in suppliers with business insights grows the overall innovation capacity.

In 2007, pharma pipeline was drying up. J&J sought new product identification and development. In 2010 the program was named SEI (supplier-enabled innovation), claiming “together, we are more.” Began telling the multifaceted story of innovation at J&J internally to build the culture.

Boldly, they asked themselves, “what can we do across procurement to drive innovation across the enterprise?”

The team split innovations into three value-generating categories: Product, Business Model, and Process. Suppliers helped in all three areas. J&J shares the need and suppliers craft solutions. It has reached such popularity that there is now a coveted, annual supplier awards.

In 2012, the SEI team began to socialize their ethos to their 1000+ procurement professionals across the globe. As well, they invited fitting suppliers into the process of asset pipeline to ensure new technologies would be available once a product scales. They named it Advanced Sourcing & Innovation.

Now, in 2014, tethering the market growth drivers and corporate strategy with procurement capabilities and innovation is key to create value, lead with a purposeful pipeline, scale the globe, and execute as quickly as possible.

The future, the speakers contend, will be driven by customer and healthcare patients.


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Michael Graber is the cofounder and managing partner at Southern Growth Studio, a Memphis, Tennessee-based firm that specializes in growth strategy and innovation. A published poet and musician, Graber is the creative force that complements the analytical side of the house. He speaks and publishes frequently on best practices in design thinking, business strategy, and innovation and earned an MFA from the University of Memphis.

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