Open innovation serves up new dinners
General Mills is a leader in innovation. It has built strong links with external innovators for many years.
The company’s main focus is food products, and the Green Giant label is one of its flagship brands.
As a frozen and canned dinner staple, customers have been enjoying General Mills products for more than 100 years. Early 2011 saw the company look at ways it could improve its vegetables without adding sauce or butter. Consumers thought plain vegetables boring, but wanted something new that wouldn’t be complicated or time-consuming.
The Research and Development unit took on task with enthusiasm, and past experience showed that asking for help from outside the company’s walls could produce great benefits.
Idea Connection reported that the General Mills Worldwide Innovation Network located Burley Foods, a supplier to food manufacturers.
"The culinary knowledge of Burley’s chef provided the expertise we needed to bring more complex seasonings and unique vegetable pairings to Green Giant,” said Kate Gallager, Green Giant R&D Manager.
Working together, the two names came up with a gourmet range of frozen vegetables, the Green Giant Seasoned Steamers. Six new flavours resulted, three of which Burley had brought to the table itself.
Open innovation has seen the two companies enormously rewarded. Big and small enterprises can benefit when they collaborate on equal terms and create a win/win result for all parties. Two companies continue to work together to produce future innovations.
“With the transparent clarity we received from General Mills’ marketing and R&D personnel, our Burley Foods team was able to leverage and guide the vast culinary and technical resources of our suppliers to find innovative ingredient solutions and arrive at the desired end product in record-pace time. We believe this model and our partnership with General Mills will be the blueprint for success in the future,” said Mike Burley, owner of Burley foods.
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Managing Director, The Strategy Group
Dr Tobias is an accomplished innovation consultant and entrepreneurship strategist, drawing expertise from the academic, entrepreneurial and corporate worlds. Jeffrey’s commercial and business experience is particularly focussed on lean startup, design thinking and leadership. Prior to The Strategy Group, Jeffrey was Cisco’s Global Lead for Innovation in the Internet Business Solutions Group helping Fortune Global 500 companies improve customer experience and grow revenue by transforming how they do business.
Jeffrey is a professor of innovation and entrepreneurship teaching MBA students at the Australian Graduate School of Business at the University of New South Wales. An active angel investor, Jeffrey is on the board of various well known startups. Jeffrey’s corporate background includes leading global innovation strategy at Cisco, working with large corporates such as Adobe, Westpac, Telstra, Woolworths, and Perpetual.