Heineken’s CEO on leading a 150-year-old company

Part II: Mobilizing to innovate
Nov 8, 2014 10:10 AM ET

We would like to draw your attention to an interview our CEO Jean-François van Boxmeer had with McKinsey for their McKinsey Quarterly recently. The focus of the interview and article is on leading a 150 year old company, managing for the long term with a specific focus on innovation and sustainability.

Mobilizing to innovate

Innovation is the lifeblood of the company. It has taken very different and various forms. It is not only about the process we use to brew and ferment our products, how we interact with our environment, consumption of water and energy. All these processes are constantly improved. The footprint that they leave on our planet is being reduced and improved. That’s one aspect of how we innovate.

But we also innovate on the consumer end with new products. So we introduce cider to people who didn’t know cider. We introduce Belgian brands to Brazilians. We introduce Mexican brands to the rest of the world. And then there is a third leg, which is to look at whether there are new products that don’t exist today, new ways of tapping beer or selling beer that we can introduce so as to make our business better.

So innovation has many, many faces. And you have to mobilize your organization around the innovations, not only by target-setting, but also creating a culture where innovation is encouraged across the board.