Akron Brass President Tom Hudak is on a mission to create a “culture of innovation” at his company. As a global manufacturer of firefighting equipment and emergency response products, customers expect Akron Brass products to be on the cutting edge. They can’t afford to let competitors beat them to market with innovative new products. Although the company already had a system for moving new products to market, Dave Beechy, Director of Product Engineering, was charged with developing a procedure for incorporating innovation into their process.
Over the course of several days, Ohio State ATI facilitators worked with over 100 Akron Brass employees from various departments to:
- Understand the difference between creativity and innovation
- Introduce the 5 steps in the Innovation Process
- Practice creative thinking techniques
- Apply the learning to 3 actual company projects (new product development)
According to Dave Beechy, Director of Product Engineering at Akron Brass:
“The culture is moving. We have written a comprehensive policy or process around the material presented. The play book [of idea generation techniques] is online and I have modified our operating manual to use the process in two places in the new product development process. Also we have developed an Excel work book that includes the steps, activities, and pop up instructions for following the process. It is both a planning tool but also a documentation tool as all the results are recorded in it. We had our first workshop this past Monday to innovate on a new product. We have an innovation committee to oversee the process and to make sure it all happens.”