In the early part of the decade, the senior leaders at Novelis Corp. weren’t occupied with brainstorming creative approaches to manufacturing in their aluminum rolled products and aluminum can recycling business. Instead, they were focused on environmental, health and safety initiatives, and continuous improvement based on lean Six Sigma. Despite this focus on other initiatives, one of their other focal points — value-based management — gave them a reason to spend more time brainstorming creativity in their manufacturing processes.
Without any best practices in place, Novelis had the opportunity to address and correct the problems that prevented innovation. Among the issues was not knowing who was responsible for innovation beyond the research and development and marketing departments. It also lacked structure for collecting ideas and a reward system for the ideas it did find. Novelis also didn’t have a review process for ideas or any resources to go to.
To tackle these issues, the company developed an innovation council. The council, which meets quarterly, consisted of the president/chief operating officer, business group presidents and designees, and leaders in corporate marketing, research and technology, and business planning.
Michael Thomas, director of global technology and R&D, and Roy Stever, vice president, global strategic marketing, then became the architects of an innovative management and execution system that could input data, capture information, update action plans, communicate and measure progress on projects, and review ideas. This new system, which was implemented by Novelis North America President Kevin Greenawalt, has helped keep everyone internally engaged and up to date. Additionally, a year ago, it launched a center designed to specifically promote creativity throughout the organization.
On top of these new programs, Novelis has clearly defined that each of its nearly 13,000 employees is responsible for innovation. Leadership has created a formal recognition process for creativity by adding an innovation category to its annual awards program.
With formal programs and processes now in place, Novelis continues to strive for more innovative approaches to operating. With ongoing communication and a constant focus, this $9.8 billion company is sure to reach even higher heights in the years to come.
HOW TO REACH: Novelis Corp., www.novelis.com or (440) 423-6600