Sparking Innovation at TasteeSnaz

Sparking Innovation at TasteeSnaz

Jibo Malami is the Chief Executive of one of Nigeria’s fastest growing indigenous food and beverages companies specializing in packaged snacks that appeal to various income and age-demographic groups. He built the company after a short stint as an Auditor at one of the top three accounting firms in Nigeria. He always had a sweet-tooth and was always snacking on one thing or the other in school and at work. TasteeSnaz has blazed the trail in this sector and is set for even bigger achievements with the recent capital injection of USD3.5million by a Private Equity Firm in Japan that is keen on expanding its footprint in Africa’s largest market.

Jibo was reading Newsweek Magazine’s article - “Nigeria, the Next World Power” when he started thinking about the immense opportunities that were available to TasteeSnaz. For him, the challenge was always around getting the right quality of ideas from his Management Team and gaining their commitment to implement these ideas. He sent a quick chat to Biodun Adams, an Innovation and Strategy Consultant who had given a talk at his local ICAN District Society meeting a few months prior on “Sparking Innovation in the Work Place” inviting him to sit in at their Management Meeting. Biodun had advised during his talk that “…the process of ideas generation that most organizations used was defective…” Jibo wanted him to sit in, observe and re-direct as necessary.

“Jibo I think it will be great if we looked at using a bit more spice in our mixes…” started a very enthusiastic Elochi, the Head of Admin. “well, Elochi, I do not think you have enough experience with our brand yet, and I don’t think it will fly”, responded Jibo very sharply. “How about we increase our trade marketing at large supermarkets like Shoprite and Spar?” chipped in Oyiza, the CFO. “Jibo, we have discussed this before, it will negatively affect our costs and Oyiza should know better”, interjected the Company’s Head of Products, Omasan.

Biodun sat quietly and watched the meeting unfold, and the trend continued - plenty of new ideas, shot-down almost as soon as they came up and soon it was only Jibo coming up with ideas, talking, darting from one side of the white-board to another and essentially “talking to himself”. By now, most of the other Management Team members seemed disengaged - and a couple had started doodling on their notebooks while Jibo marshalled out one idea or the other.

During a short tea break, Jibo walks over to Biodun “You see, my management team doesn’t come up with any good ideas, and at the end of the day I have to do all the heavy lifting myself. I think I need to change some of these guys, bring in some fresh blood”. “Well, Jibo, I think that you have read this wrongly, what needs to change is your approach to innovation. Biodun then reminded him of the Creative Problem-Solving Process they had discussed at the ICAN meeting, and the principles of divergence, convergence and Contextual Focus. “Let me facilitate the session for a few minutes right after the tea break and let us see if anything will change” suggested Biodun as Jibo nodded in approval.

So, let’s start with a review of our competitive position in the industry from the recent Industry Report as well as the Customer Feedback Report from the Mystery Shoppers. The room fell into silence for about 20 minutes as everyone took time to study the Reports. After 20 minutes, Biodun handed out pieces of plain paper to everyone, placed them in groups and facilitated a BRAIN-WRITING session where everyone wrote down their ideas and passed their ideas around for everyone to add more and new ideas. In about 20 minutes the quiet room had generated over 100 new ideas.

Working together, each group as directed by Biodun used a Voting mechanism to select the best ideas and then as a larger group they all used a filtering criterion called I3 to decide their top innovative solutions for the quarter.

This time, Jibo sat back and saw a different kind of energy and engagement in the room that was unprecedented, reminiscent of the earliest days of TasteeSnaz. He could see the difference that Biodun’s approach had made and was convinced that he didn’t need to change his management team, but he just needed to change his approach to innovation and make this approach part of the organizational DNA at TasteeSnaz.

Learning Impact NG is a full-service organizational development, organizational learning and strategy consulting firm that offers a unique range of solutions to meet the needs of organizations and individuals. Click HERE to learn more about our program on Sparking Innovation

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