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Innovation Interview: Q&A with Keurig Senior Innovation Director

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In our Innovation Interview series, each month we
talk to thought leaders, inspirers, and innovators in the industry to pick
their brains about the state of innovation, trends, and what's in store
for the future. This week we caught up FEI:
Front End of Innovation
speaker Rachael Schwartz who is the General Manager
of Keurig Connect and Senior Director of Innovation at Keurig Green Mountain.
Day-to-day, Schwartz has one mission: drive strategy and
flawless execution of Keurig Connect through better understanding consumers
wants and needs to provide them with improved, smarter, and more personalized
beverage experiences. When it comes to strategy-driven innovation, she is in
her element. For nearly two decades, she has artfully navigated innovation for
companies in the consumer products, food and beverage, and financial services
industries. Today, Schwartz is leading the development of Keurig Connect,
Keurig's IoT platform at Keurig Green Mountain, the $4.5 billion personal
beverage system company responsible for changing the way North Americans drink
coffee with its Keurig single-serve brewing system and a portfolio of 80+
powerhouse specialty beverage brands.
Here's what Schwartz
had to say:

What is the key to
transforming ideas into market winning strategies? 

Schwartz: I
believe it's critical to obtain a solid understanding of the unmet consumer
needs in the category and ensure your strategy will help make life better for
the consumer.

How does design thinking improve innovation?
Schwartz: Design thinking
is a good process to make sure the consumer need is matched with the technology
capability and the business strategy as all three need to be aligned to have a
successful product. Design thinking incorporates many different methods of
really understanding the consumer and their needs to map to the technology and
business strategy.

How can innovators learn how to work alongside the
technologies that will shape their product/service/experience innovations of
the future?
Schwartz: Innovators
can study the projected trajectories that a technology may take and identify
how that could affect the consumer experience with their product.
How does leadership, teams, and the environment help empower
and accelerate innovation?
Schwartz: Innovation
can easily get stuck in large company processes or killed by large company
metrics and never can come to life.  Therefore, it is important for
leadership to provide the resources to fund innovation and clear the path, from
a process standpoint, to allow innovation to be developed. 
Why is business model innovation a powerful way to
Schwartz: How can
companies stop conventional business models from impeding innovation? In
today's digital world where there are much fewer barriers to entry in many
industries, every company needs to think broadly about what industry they are
in, what problems are they solving for consumers, and who their competitors
are.  For example, oil companies are pivoting to become energy companies, car
companies are mobility companies, and pharmacies are becoming wellness
Schwartz: When
you rethink the problem, you are solving, you recognize that companies with
more diverse business models may be more successful at solving those
problems.  That's why it's critical to innovate without the constraint of
your current model. This, however, is hard to do when you are disrupting your
current company.  Therefore, many companies will choose to place bets
through investments in companies with the disruptive business model or create arms-length
subsidiaries to place those bets.
How can open innovation leaders de-risk external
collaborations and usher in more efficient pathways into their organization?
Schwartz: They
can enter external collaborations with a clear understanding of what learnings
they wish to gain from the collaboration, what are the metrics for success, and
what is the path for introducing learnings from the collaboration into the
greater organization.
Join Rachael at her
FEI session 'Journey into Connected Appliances and the IoT' on Wednesday, May
10th at 12:00 PM EST.  Learn

FEI takes you through the entire innovation process- from
ideation through to execution. Get the tips you need for creating fast, agile
& opportunistic innovation teams to turn a great idea into a market winning
product. Use exclusive LinkedIn discount
code FEI17LI for $100 off a pass to FEI in Boston next month. Buy your ticket
here: https://goo.gl/R0ycmv

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