Sunday, December 05, 2004

Why is a 175 year old soap company in Cincinnati, Ohio, the most consistently innovative company on earth?

In each year, business magazines publish lists of the top companies in each field of excellence. Books, dating from In Search of Excellence to Built to Last, extol the virtues of this company or that. Yet over its 175 year history, Procter & Gamble has demonstrated an ongoing eagerness to challenge the accepted wisdom and reinvent itself. From organizational innovation, such as the creation of the Marketing function and invention of the Brand Manager. It has created new tools of business, from mundane promotional tools to moving close to WalMart in a new defintion of supply chsin efficiency, or creation of the Tremor process to harness word-of-mouth to build businesses. It has a record of innovation in new products, from new potato chips to the spinbrush, which is unequalled in business.

The fundamental reason for this is the company's eagerness to challenge all that has gone before. It assumes that if something has been done for a number of years, it can probably be done in a better way. This is rare in any organization, and while other companies try to copy Procter & Gamble, the very thought process of "copying" means it starts off on the wrong footing.

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