Building an Innovation Culture

For innovation to flourish, executives must be committed, patient and ready to lead by example.

By Josh Cable

Like many manufacturers, Eaton, Ohio-based Henny Penny Corp. was founded on innovation. Seeking a better way to cook chicken, restaurant owner Chester Wagner developed a deep-fat pressure fryer and filed for a patent in 1954. Three years later (patent in hand), Wagner formed Henny Penny to market his invention, which the company claims was the world’s first commercial pressure fryer.

The ‘I’ in ‘Innovation’

When Robert Brands was CEO of Airspray NV, a Dutch manufacturer credited with developing the first non-aerosol instant-foam dispensers now used by consumer product companies, his monthly visits to the company’s headquarters in the Netherlands always included an afternoon set aside for discussing new product development.

While the meetings helped establish priorities and “marching orders” for everyone involved in the R&D process, Brands believes they served a larger purpose: His presence at the meetings showed how important innovation was to the company.

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