How can creative disruption shape the future?

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Queen for a day: Mondelez International's Elly Sandberg on disruption through innovation

If you were in charge, how would you run things? In a recent issue of The Drum, seven women from across the advertising spectrum told guest-editor Cindy Gallop how they would tackle the issues holding the industry back if they ruled the roost. Here Elly Sandberg, assistant brand manager biscuits at Mondelez International explains how she'd use innovation to make a change.

If I ran my company the first thing I’d do is set up a worldwide ‘Innovation Day’ – a festival celebrating creative genius – both inside and outside of the food and beverages sector. Innovation is the key to success in the competitive snacking industry and we already run innovation days on a number of brands, but I’d set up a broader company-wide innovation workshop where we’d take a day out to immerse ourselves in the latest trends and get excited and inspired by the creativity and imagination of others.

Individuals would be encouraged to bring something that has inspired them, be it a new piece of packaging, an article they’ve enjoyed or a funny internet meme. Teams would be challenged to work up a fresh new take on an existing product or campaign idea and run it past a Dragon’s Den panel. I like the idea of finding energy in other people’s passions and allowing everyone a voice in the future of our next big bets.

At Mondelez International there are endless opportunities associated with being part of a large international company. There is so much we can learn from one another and I’ve always found it’s far easier to work with people once you’ve met them and built up rapport. For that reason, I’d set up regular cross-functional ‘get to know you’ events – a bit like company speed-dating.

These could be run face-to-face or by video conference across seas. It’s not just about what I’d do though. I’d encourage the leadership team to get involved too. I’d encourage them to travel back in time and spend a week as graduates or apprentices to reconnect with the day-to-day challenges and priorities we face.

The company has a really good range of early careers options but it’s important for people at the top to get close to the day-to-day running of the business and to experience life in the business for those at the start of their careers. I think we’d learn a lot from each other.

Three top tips to make a change:

1. Foster a culture which makes it ‘OK to fail’ – I’d encourage employees not to be afraid of failure. Team leaders should share their own failures. We need to reward innovative thinking, even if every idea doesn’t make it all the way.

2. Better understanding our consumers – I’d give everyone in the business the chance to spend time in consumer focus groups or on the shop floor with retailers so they can get under the skin of what the consumer really wants.

3. Big and small – I’d get every team in the company to prioritise a ‘one per cent outlook’, meaning that each month they identify and celebrate the little changes that make a one per cent difference, which when added up can have a company-wide impact.

This article was originally published in the 1 October edition of The Drum, edited by Cindy Gallop and available in The Drum Store.

Check out what Mary Snauffer, senior social strategist at Iris New York, would do if she was Queen for a day.

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