Governance Trumps Process
When Ramón Baez became the CIO of Kimberly-Clark in February 2007, he didn't know that he would be personally involved in one of the great business comeback stories of the decade.
Like many companies, Kimberly-Clark was adversely affected by the economic crisis that began in 2008. By 2009, the company faced diminished prospects in several important markets. Chairman and CEO Thomas J. Falk rallied the company, calling for renewed focus in three critical areas: innovation, continuous improvement, and talent.
Confronting a clear need to innovate quickly, some companies might have created a complicated innovation process or simply outsourced innovation to consultants. Kimberly-Clark's approach was more original. Instead of adding more layers of complexity or hiring outside experts, the company relied on a governance committee to guide the innovation necessary for regaining the edge in competitive markets.
“The committee included the CEO, the group president of North Atlantic Consumer Products, the president of Kimberly-Clark International, and the chief marketing officer,” explains Ramón. “Those four senior executives had to be in agreement before an innovation project went forward.”
When the committee spoke, it spoke in one voice. That created a heightened sense of clarity across the company, which in turn made it easier to move projects from the ideation stage to the execution phase with greater speed and efficiency.
That unique form of governance ...