Transforming Innovation: Revitalizing Growth in Specialty Polymers

Case Study

Faced with competitive price pressure, a major European specialty polymers and materials producer found itself at a pivotal juncture. Polymers & Materials Corp.* needed to revitalize its innovation strategy and organization to protect profit margins and generate long-term growth. As part of the technology leadership team of one business unit, I spearheaded a profound metamorphosis of their approach to innovation.

The Story

The Situation
Polymers & Materials Corp. faced a critical juncture. Dependent on research and innovation for sustained growth, the company struggled to align its innovation portfolio with the aspirations set by a new CEO. The shift from a six-sigma driven efficiency strategy to growth through innovation posed a significant challenge. Overcoming missed innovation targets, reorienting the innovation pipeline, and revitalizing a sluggish stage-gate process emerged as key objectives. Moreover, their Research and Development workforce grappled with attrition and a changing workforce demographic due to budget constraints and previous restructurings.

The Approach
As part of one business unit’s technology leadership team I played a pivotal role in shaping a transformative innovation strategy, leading the change, and motivating staff.

Our aim was to completely re-think innovation in our unit:

  • Examining the suitability of new innovation methods and tools
  • Researching suitable new technologies
  • Increasing diversity by hiring and integrating new people
  • Revising our approach to employee engagement

The Output

I led the implementation of the approach in a newly established department, including:

  • Pioneering the establishment of the department, crafting tailored positions to fit within the new innovation framework and enlisting proficient and motivated individuals.
  • Cultivating seven innovation platforms that elevated process technology to unprecedented efficiency.
  • Sourcing and transforming new technology into commercially viable applications.
  • Infusing agile methodologies into workflow reorganization.
  • Amplifying transparency, communication, and workforce engagement.

The Results

With its focused, streamlined innovation strategy, Polymers & Materials Corp. was able to consistently fill its innovation pipeline with high-value projects, speeding development, time to market—and bolstering financial results. A quarter of resources were liberated to fuel forward-looking innovations, fostering elevated value creation.

Opportunities and resources were adeptly prioritized, enabling the identification of nearly double the volume of new innovation prospects. Investment costs for novel assets plummeted by an impressive 30-40 percent.

In the wake of the orchestrated innovation strategy and organizational overhaul, Polymers & Materials Corp. successfully bridged the innovation gap in its portfolio and surpassed its long-term sales targets. Through strategic transformation, I played a pivotal role in ensuring Polymers & Materials AG could generate innovation in their highly competitive market.

*I take client confidentiality seriously. While I’ve changed the company name, the results are real.