Coca-Cola and Open Innovation: Scared, but Moving Forward


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You could have expected Coca-Cola to be further ahead with their open innovation efforts than what the case is. After all, this is the world’s best known brand with countless touch points on which they can innovate with consumers, suppliers, entrepreneurs, partners and many others.

But this is not the case as recently stated in an article in Marketing, which actually illustrates the state of open innovation in many different companies and industries quite well.

Here are some quotes by Anthony Newstead, global director of innovation at Coca-Cola from the article:

“Newstead said Coca-Cola was going “through a phase of risk awareness rather than risk aversion”, modernising its secretive culture to foster more of a “sharing formula”.”

“You have to move away from a command control top down secretive model to a more collaborative one.”

“We have quite a secretive culture – we have a secret formula – but we are looking at ways to connect more people with the company … to make our walls a little bit more translucent,” Newstead said.

It seems as if Newstead understands that successful open innovation is more about changing the culture than just running initiatives and projects – although they can help change the culture.

I just wonder if Coca-Cola realizes that it will take them at least a couple of years to get significant benefits from this effort and whether they have the stamina needed for this as well as the gut it takes to start developing not only an open, but also a more experimenting culture. This comes with the risk of failures and given the quotes above, this does not seem to fit well with Coca-Cola.

This scenario is similar for many other companies and you can argue that the need of long-term focus and execution might be one more reason that companies are scared of open innovation. Scott Wurtele, CEO at Idea Connection shares other insights on why companies are scared of open innovation in this blog post, which could be worth a read for Coca-Cola – and many other companies.

Nevertheless, I have a good reason to end this blog post on a positive note. Coca-Cola-Cola now publicly buys into open innovation. This is yet another sign that open innovation is here to stay.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stefan Lindegaard
Stefan is an author, speaker, facilitator and consultant focusing on open innovation, social media tools and intrapreneurship.


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