Innocent Drinks founder Richard Reed on research and development [Video]

Richard Reed reveals how he encourages and manages innovation within his company.

Innocent Drinks is known for its unique products and fun creatives but as Innocent co-founder Richard Reed points out “innovation is such a big area and everyone’s always trying to understand it.” The healthy smoothie brand remains determined as ever to continue to grow its offering and “business of the future” which is why it places a real importance on research and development.

Describing Innocent’s growth strategy, Reed explains it has created a semi-autonomous, entrepreneurial unit – ‘Innocent Nursery’- where the sole job for the people that work there is to create “new stuff”. Why a ‘nursery’? Reed explains that it allows product developers to step away from the core of the business and “not be dragged down by the quagmire of how the business is currently performing” – all they have to focus on is bringing an idea to fruition. Once a new product is launched, Innocent gives it six months to see if works and if it does it gets managed in the central part of the business by a brand manager, if it’s “lame” they cut it.

Encouraging innovation is key to Innocent’s success as Reed asserts when he says that “it’s most important not to stamp on that little green shoot of an idea when it first comes up”. In contrast to other businesses who are “very good at going ‘no that’s not right’ even when the idea hasn’t been given a chance to evolve”, Innocent’s mindset is to consider how they could make it, and make the right version of that first little idea.

This concept is demonstrated through Innocent’s approach to work. An idea it “stole from Google”- Innocent allows its creative team to spend a fifth of their time, one day week, on their own ideas to further the brand with the other four days spent on briefs assigned to them.

Explaining how he and Innocent co-founders Adam Balon and Jon Wright monitor innovation and growth, Reed says that they have created a “three-headed approach” with one founder running the existing business, one founder running the international business, and one founder concentrating on the “business of the future” and that “works for them”.

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