Kraft Foods has
started a program to pursue “open innovation”. It was covered in an article in the Wall Street Journal Online on June 2nd,
Looks Outside the Box for Inspiration
(registration required).

“Hungry for new
ideas, Kraft Foods Inc. is turning
to a new source of inspiration: its customers. The nation’s largest food company is launching a program to weigh
unsolicited ideas from customers and others. The move represents a departure
from past practice…” 

Here are two
excerpts from the Innovate
With Kraft
website where you can submit your ideas.

“Each year, Kraft
receives many ideas from people and organizations outside our company. While we
are always interested in new ideas, you should know that most of what we receive (or will
receive in the future) is not (or will not be) new to us
. This is
because, as you might guess, Kraft has a large staff of scientists and
marketers who are continuously working to develop and improve our products,
packaging and processes. Therefore, many submissions from "outside"
Kraft actually duplicate Kraft’s current or past research and development

“Kraft is
accepting ideas under this policy for new products, packaging, and business process/systems
. We are most interested in
ideas that are more than a concept, in particular new products & packages that
are ready to be brought to market
(or can be brought to market
quickly)…” (All emphasis added)

Do Kraft customers
normally have ideas concerning Kraft business processes and systems?  

Do these
customers have patents and products that are ready to be brought to market? If they do, why do they want to work with Kraft?

While soliciting
ideas from outside of the confines of their own company is a step to be
applauded, this sounds to me like they’re looking for the proverbial “silver

It doesn’t sound
like a conversation.

It doesn’t sound
like a partnership. 

It doesn’t sound
like a commitment to listen to their customers.

It’s still
virtually a one way dialogue. Give us
your idea and if we like it we might call you (that is, if we haven’t already
thought of it ourselves).

How can Kraft
improve on this program?  

What would you do
if you were in charge? 

What can you do
with your own customers?

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