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Innovation Through Devotion

Robert Fields, Lead Innovation and Insight Engineer at Kenwood

— March 3, 2017 — Business
Kenwood, a company that manufactures cutting-edge consumer goods, prides itself on offering the best in efficient kitchen appliances that enhance user experience.

Trend Hunter spoke with Robert Fields, Lead Innovation and Insight Engineer, to get a better understanding of how his team at Kenwood views innovation.

Can you tell us a little about your role and what led you to it?

By trade, I’m a product designer, but I've been involved in various technology transfer and engineering jobs as well. This led me to my current role on the innovation team at Kenwood. We’re a small team and we work on innovative ideas, concepts, and strategies.

How does your team generate great ideas? Do you have certain rituals to make creativity happen?

To make creativity happen we try to look at many different sources -- everything from subscription services like Trend Hunter, to going out to interesting shows and scouting. We’re part of De’Longhi group, so it’s interesting to see the different technology is being implemented in other areas.

We do a lot of our own trend foresight work as well, which helps to ideate. Right now, we’re working a trend forecasting project that will aim to uncover trends in relation to food products on a global scale.

What are some barriers to innovation? How do you get around them?

Action to risk is probably the biggest barrier to innovation. To get around it, we use robust and reliable consumer-focused information that shows us that the innovation we’re working on is well-worth the risk that might be associated with it.

Do you have specific rituals for resetting to be creative?

Not a specific ritual. I don’t think that creativity is something that you can really make a process around, it’s important to just give yourself time to generate new ideas, rather than do a specific activity to try and ignite your creativity.

What are some examples of things you can do to create a culture of innovation?

Again, allowing time is the most important to me. It’s so easy to get caught up in your day-to-day work, especially in engineering, because we’re always working on a lot of projects. Setting out time for yourself to get out of your daily routine a bit to collaborate and maybe switch up the environment really helps to facilitate a culture of innovation.

What do you think your industry will look like in 10 years?

It will be majority altered by the digital world.

What’s the most unconventional thing you have done to get creative inspiration?

I think going to completely unrelated shows has been the most unique thing that I’ve done to get creative inspiration. An example of this is when we went to a gardening show and ended up potentially partnering with a gardening equipment manager that specializes in tools for cutting.

Have you identified any gaps in your innovation process that you're looking to improve on?

Because we’re part of a large company, I think it’s important to share specific points that have come up so that everyone is able to learn from them and prevent similar issues from arising in the future. Recording past lessons and sharing them throughout the company is something that we can improve on I think.

At your company, do you see a connection between regional trends and global trends?

Definitely, we try to track this because different food trends come from areas all over the world, so we try to get an understanding of where they’re moving on a regional level. This allows us to get an idea of whether or not they’ll become a global trend as well.