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Building a Global R&D Strategy – a case study

Building a Global R&D Strategy – and developing a high potential global leadership team in the process.

The Client – A €21 billion global food business employing over 100,000 people around the world. The head of the global R&D function for the €4.2 billion Waters division leads a globally dispersed senior R&D team that lead the development of new product innovations for some of the world’s leading water brands.

The Challenge When we started to work together the divisional head of R&D had a newly appointed global R&D leadership team that needed a clear vision, strategy and a battle plan to deliver a much improved innovation pipeline for the Waters Division. He knew the importance of the human element in delivering this challenge so wanted to work with us. He was prepared to be challenged and he wanted his team to be challenged and he knew we could deliver this with a good grace and a lively sense of humour whilst also helping him and his team develop a robust R&D strategy aimed at delivering the growth they needed.

The Objectives – The assignment had three specific objectives:

  • To develop a robust global R&D strategy for the Waters division that is fully owned by the new R&D leadership team.
  • To build the new R&D leadership team and accelerate them towards becoming the High Performing team they needed to be to succeed.
  • To develop innovative ways to engage the whole R&D organisation and align them behind the global priorities contained in the R&D strategy.

Our Approach – Working closely with the head of the R&D Division we co-created a series of events that brought the global R&D leadership team together to work as a team on the R&D strategy. We brought a highly engaging collaborative strategy process to the team and injected new thinking and innovative team working tools to get them to form and then quickly progress towards high performing team status. Over a period of 18 months we helped this leadership team build a very successful, innovative and highly regarded R&D strategy for the Waters division.

The Impact – The senior leadership team were recognised as one of the leading senior teams in the whole company at their global leadership conference. The resulting R&D strategy fuelled the growth of this division in the face of substantial global competition and a significant global recession. The head of the division said of our work:

The tangible benefits are embedded in the innovation pipeline for the business we are well armed to deliver new products now and we are launching twice as many products this year than last year and this is a direct result of the way we are working together as a team and within the business. The other thing we have is that we are now considered one of the best teams to work in within the whole company so we attract others and we have retained our talent. The leadership team work has also cascaded to the teams below and that has produced much more engagement from our scientists and technologists who are the engine room of our innovation machine. I feel this by walking around and I get this feedback from HR and the local businesses leaders in the regions. This is intangible benefits and helps us innovate more effectively across the world.”