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In the past three decades, there has been a decline in milk consumption year over year, with a 25% drop since 1975. Over the last 6 years we’ve seen a steady decline of 3% YOY (IRI: total U.S., all dairy milk, MULO data since 2011).


One factor has been a rise in plant based alternatives ranging from soy to almond to cashew “milks”. There has also been a substantial message that these milks are better for you than cow’s milk. 


Other considerations could include the wealth of information available to consumers, health trends or perceptions of the industry.


With the increasing desire for natural and whole foods we may see this trend reverse. Dairy has and always will be a whole and natural food at its core. How do we as the biggest dairy cooperative in the U.S. capitalize on this trend and shed light on the spectacular nutrition dairy has to offer?


Topic: Let's talk innovation Posted by: Annie Kramer on 9/21/2017

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I'm sure you've heard of 3M's "30 percent rule" or Google's "20 percent time"—it refers to the amount of time these companies encourage their employees to think creatively. In an industry like dairy, even 10 percent on most days seems like it would be tough to set aside to focus on things outside of your job role.


And while time is a barrier to thinking creatively, an innovation program can also cause more harm than good: 


The Tidal Wave of Unfiltered Ideas 

Too many ideas can lead to a lack of focus and a lack of action. The innovation team is here to ensure we have a structure in place to consolidate ideas, and get the right stuff to the right people.


Build the Wall

While it's important to have a process around an innovation program, it's also important not to overcomplicate the process. Time consuming paperwork and processes to have your ideas heard hurts more than helps—which is why we created the Make it Better platform.


So, what does it take to be successful?

  • An innovation process and pipeline
  • Prioritization
  • Solution exploration
  • The ability to be disruptive


Good news for DFA?

We're working on it. Keep an eye out for information about Ignite as we continue to grow and improve the program.


Click here for a more detailed article on this topic.


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"It's OK to be wrong, it's OK to make mistakes — it's OK to fail," according to Amazon's vice president for global innovation policy and communications, Paul Misener.


And he's not wrong. No one is 100 percent successful but successful people know the right way to fail.


Seems like a bit of an oxymoron—the right way to fail—but its not. As long as you are able to recognize your mistake and learn from it, it can hardly be counted as a failure. Yes, you may lose some money or time, but you gain value in the form of knowledge to make up for it.


"At Amazon, we have a lot of experience with failure. We have failed many times — some very public, colossal ones, some private. But we are failing and we will continue to fail. Many times we will fail going forward, I'm confident of that." says Misener.


Read more about Amazon's approach to innovation—there were plenty of ups and downs along the way.

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In a lot of situations, people see innovation solely as ideas when in reality innovation comes from those ideas that are put into action to create value. 


Value means different things to different companies, and Kevin Hagino, senior regional brand manager, Southeast Asia, LEGO, said it well when he stated "Innovation is like a Ferrari – it’s cool and fast, but also has the capacity to write you off completely. The main pitfall is doing something because it’s new and shiny, rather than because it's fundamentally anchored in its business or brand."


So many people think of innovation as a huge win—when usually that's not the case. Innovation comes in all shapes and sizes. Yes, it can be the next Amazon but it can also be a small improvement on the plant floor that makes the operation more efficient or saves money for the organization.


Ideas can be big or small or anywhere along that spectrum. Either way we are still providing value to our farmer-owners and the Cooperative.


For perspectives like this and more, check out this article by the Telegraph.

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It can be scary to put your idea out there—but it also can be incredibly fruitful. Crowdsourcing is a proven technique when it comes to innovation.


And I can even back that up with some statistics:

  • 85 percent of the 2014 Best Global Brands have used crowdsourcing in the last ten years
  • The Best Global Brands are three times more likely to use crowdsourcing platforms than websites and social media for their crowdsourcing efforts
  • Fast Moving Consumer Goods giants increased investment by 48 percent in 2014 compared to 2013
  • Of these ten companies, the top three crowdsourcing users in 2014 were Procter & Gamble, followed by Unilever and Nestlé
  • The most crowdsourced type of content by the Best Global Brands is video content (45 percent of all initiatives in 2014) followed by ideas (22 percent of all initiatives in 2014)

Why not leverage a pool of smart and diverse employees and get a different perspective on an issue that's been challenging your business? 


Plenty of companies use this approach to innovation within their organizations. Don't believe me?
Check out this article from the Harvard Business Review.

The Secret Sauce of Creativity | TEDxRegina
Our approach to innovation is dead wrong | Diana Kander | TEDxKC