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McDonald Shares Innovation Lessons

CEO Shares Insights During IRI 75th Anniversary Celebration
Wednesday, May 22, 2013 9:41 am EDT

Over the course of 175 years, you learn a few things. Earlier this week, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO shared three key lessons he has learned during P&G’s 175-year innovation journey. 

McDonald made the remarks at an event in Washington celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Industrial Research Institute (IRI), a nonpartisan, membership-based organization that brings leaders of R&D together to discover and share best practices in the management of technological innovation in a non-competitive, collaborative learning environment.

McDonald talked about how innovation partners like IRI have helped to strengthen the company’s innovation capabilities. He also shared three key lessons the company has learned about innovating to improve the quality of life for people in every part of the world:

1) Innovation has to be inspired by fundamental human truths. Not just by technology. Not just by science. But, by a core human need that is rarely articulated and must be uncovered through keen consumer insights.

2) Innovation has to be open, inside and outside the company.

3) Innovation has to be balanced between sustaining, transformational and disruptive. It has to represent a full continuum of innovations that meet the different needs of consumers and the business.

“For 175 years, innovation has been at the heart of everything we do at P&G,” McDonald said. “It differentiates our brands versus competition and prevents commoditization of our categories and brands. It’s how we delight customers, create value with retail partners, create new businesses – and it has enabled us to grow for 175 years.”

McDonald discussed several of the most prominent innovations from P&G’s history:

  • Tide—the first heavy-duty synthetic laundry detergent
  • Crest—the first fluoride toothpaste to be endorsed by the American Dental Association
  • Pampers—the first successful, mass-marketed disposable diaper
  • Downy—the first rinse-added fabric softener
  • Pert Plus – and later, Pantene—the first two-in-one conditioner and shampoo
  • Always—the first feminine protection pad with an innovative dry-weave top sheet
  • Febreze—the first fabric and air care products that actually remove odors from fabrics and the air
  • Crest White Strips – the first at-home teeth-whitening treatment

McDonald closed his talk by talking about the importance of innovation, not only in P&G’s history, but going forward.

“Our focus on innovation is more important than ever,” he said. “We face enormous challenges today – as individuals, companies and institutions, but also as nations, societies and a planet. It is sometimes easy to be discouraged in the face of these challenges, but I am a big believer in seeing these challenges as opportunities. The key is innovation.”

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