Careers Built on Innovation: Lessons from PepsiCo & IBM

Published: Mar 24, 2011


Innovation matters. Especially to companies like PepsiCo and IBM, both featured in Fast Company's 2011 Most Innovative Companies list.

For PepsiCo's Chief Personnel Officer Cynthia Trudell, the company's very popular mission statement "Performance with Purpose" is about delivering sustainable growth by investing in a healthier future for people and our planet. At a recent conference for senior HR executives hosted by The Conference Board in New York City, Trudell discussed the company's plans to grow their nutrition products from $10 billion in revenue to over $30 billion in the next 10 years.

One of their key initiatives to achieve this goal is by fostering innovation, hence, Performance by Purpose.

According to Trudell, "Innovation at PepsiCo comes from anyone, anywhere."

Senior leaders apply a "lift and shift innovation model" where employees are encouraged to search for great ideas in any field, lift them out of the current context and shift them into PepsiCo. Trudell concluded on a succinct note: "If holes in the talent pipeline exist, holes in innovation will follow."

Ensuring the right people are in the right positions at the right time will help innovation flourish.

As an IBMer, I learned the importance of innovation on my first day. One of IBM's core values is, "Innovation that matters, for our company and for the world." As IBM CEO Sam Palmisano often notes, "If we're going to solve the biggest, thorniest and most widespread problems in business and society, we have to innovate in ways that truly matter."

Similar to PepsiCo's innovation strategy, IBM ensures that each employee plays an active role in making that core value a reality.

Recently, IBM conducted an Innovation Jam. Held over three days, the Jam was a large-scale online conversation that provided an opportunity for thousands of IBMers to pool their knowledge and experience to examine critical business issues. What resulted was an unrivalled opportunity for each IBMer to play a role in generating valuable new ideas for the company. Connecting IBMers and tapping into their broad institutional knowledge is critical to sustaining and cultivating our innovative culture.

This emphasis on employee empowerment and having a voice for change is one of the top reasons I work for IBM. Developing and maintaining this innovative culture will keep businesses like PepsiCo and IBM competitive in today's global society.

How does your company foster innovation? Could we work together to create innovation across industries?

--By Lisa Manning

Lisa Manning is an Organizational Change Management Consultant at IBM. Lisa is a recent MBA graduate from George Washington University, where she founded the first Certificate in Responsible Management. Lisa is on Twitter @lisareidmanning and LinkedIn.

Editor's Note: Recently, I had the opportunity of interviewing PepsiCo's Cynthia Trudell. Our conversation spanned her definition of CSR, what it means for her co-executives, how PepsiCo's work with women entrepreneurs in the Middle East fits in with their mission of Performance with Purpose, and a whole lot more on employee engagement and talent management. This and more is coming up next week so stay tuned!

Fast Company: 2011's Most Innovative Companies
IBM's Innovation Jam