Innovation and Collaboration: We Are Stronger Together

by Tricia Sime

Some believe innovation is a sudden burst of creativity or a light bulb moment. “Oh, that’s brilliant!”  As if that’s all it takes, and the innovation ends after the spontaneity of the idea. But in reality, innovation is not just about the light bulb moment; ideas can come from anywhere and are often produced over time, with trial and error, and a nod to continual improvements. At Inland Packaging, we recognize that each stage of the innovation process requires a bit of structure and creativity to ensure that the innovation is implemented. Our processes are designed and integrated in a way that they become part of our workplace culture and are second nature to us.

Exothermix came to us to launch a new product, one that was disruptive to the industry. They trusted us to be the visionary in the Flexible Packaging market and support them with the technical development to advance their products into new markets.  To be successful they needed a partner who was willing to embrace both risk and reward in such an unconventional product; a partner who was willing to support a medium-sized business and bring in the right partners as needed to make this product successful.

A critical component to the success of the Exothermix self-heating package is a film and label construction that work cohesively with the heating element. Through numerous trials in the development stages, our partnership flourished, quality parameters were established, lead times shortened and support from the supply chain improved. We invested in building reliable innovation processes and structures to find new opportunities that make sense for their company.

Three essentials for collaborative innovation

In a recent discussion with our client, Exothermix, we uncovered three shared characteristics of our companies which enabled the success in our partnership. We believe these characteristics open the doors to endless possibilities for innovation.

Vision and leadership: Within any organization, there are always a handful of people want to make things happen and embrace innovation. At Inland Packaging and Exothermix we share a passion for innovation at all levels throughout our organizations. When there is synergy from the get-go we can achieve more. We are not only harnessing innovation from our employees, but also from our qualified suppliers and outsourced partners.

Innovation in leadership means:
• We are willing to try different approaches to be successful
• We are nimble enough to think through all possibilities and patient enough to grow with you
• We respect each other enough to know we can reach out to other experts when needed, we don’t try to be all things to all people

Structure and Process: Our ideas are not just talk, structure and processes put our ideas into practice. At Inland, we are invested in building reliable innovation processes and structures to continually find new opportunities that make sense for our company and our clients. The Inland and Exothemix teams worked together to allow for numerous trials in the development stage. We gave our teams time to explore and re-review, capturing unmet needs and ideas along the way.

Our approach to innovation allowed us to:
• Move Exothermix from a four month product lead time to one month lead time
• Develop creative solutions to supply chain strategies
• Implement new order interval strategies to meet lower quantity orders from new market segments

People and Culture: We believe we are teachers as well as perpetual learners. To do anything great you have to take a chance and to ‘not know’ is healthy. When we are willing to give space to active listening and keeping an open dialog we develop a deeper understanding of our limits and possibilities. This mutual understanding between Inland and Exothermix allowed for a faster road to success and also minimized any major risks.

Our culture is dedicated to:
• Sharing our knowledge so that we continue to grow and learn alongside our customers
• Providing positive energy to overcome the unknown and be responsive to any unmet needs
• Delivering a quality product, always

“Inland has stuck with us and helped us through some big obstacles. Together we have come up with some really creative solutions.”   —Darko Marquez, Director of Operations

Successful Innovators

We are continually developing new innovative platforms to help you find the right solutions for your brand. With print capabilities in digital, offset, flexo, and gravure we will work with you to create new offerings that cultivate change in the marketplace, increase consumer engagement, and add value to your brand.

If you find yourself “stuck” on innovation, perhaps it’s time we collaborate? Let’s talk.  Check out our latest case study with Exothermix, We Do Heat: A Like-Minded Collaboration. If you are interested in getting our Innovation Spotlights direct to your inbox, click here and scroll down to add your name to the list.