Learning from an Innovation CEO...Mark King, TaylorMade-adidas Golf

Yesterday, my students and I had the great privilege of learning from a CEO. Mark King, of TaylorMade-adidas Golf, shared with us about the culture of innovation at TaylorMade. It's a culture that has been intentionally created by Mark and his leadership team over the past 9 years.

Interestingly, the strategic shift initially came about as a result of a comment made by one of the senior team during an offsite strategic planning session. The audacious comment by this team member was that TaylorMade should and could be the biggest and best golf company in the world. The only problem was that, at the time, Callaway had the lion's share of the market and didn't look to be losing ground. As the story goes, the team member said something like "We can keep doing what we're doing and grow x% a year and, after 5 years, we'll still have our jobs. That would be good, but wouldn't it be great if, instead, we were the best golf company in the world?"

To unseat the giant, TaylorMade had to change the rules of the game. Instead of introducing products every 3 years--as was customary in the golf market--TaylorMade would radically change the market by offering product innovations every 12 months. This relentless innovation philosophy required fundamental changes in every aspect of the company: supply chain, product research and development, sales marketing, production scheduling...everything changed.

While Mark shared many stories with us about how innovation is specifically managed and developed at TaylorMade, I was especially pleased when he talked of the genesis of their strategic shift. Essentially, the sought a new strategy because they realized that if keep doing business the way they had been doing it, they'd get the same results. This had to sound familiar to my students since I regularly say "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got." Perhaps they don't think I'm crazy after all?

As the consumer products marketplace is continuing to experience the effects of a recession, TaylorMade evolves by managing the chaos that it created in the golf market. As Mark put it, "volatility creates opportunity". Although the entire golf market is down considerably in 2009, TaylorMade's sales haven't suffered as much. Mark continues to be confident that TaylorMade--with its focus on the customer and delivering products that exceed expectations--will weather the storm well.

For more reading on Mark and the innovation machine at TaylorMade, check out this article from BusinessWeek (February 23, 2009).

No comments: