Reuniting on Innovation Faithful to the Organization’s Core

Eczacıbaşı Innovation and Entrepreneurship Office
2019 – 2021

The Story

This is the story of aligning stakeholders of a conglomerate with 40 companies and nearly 12,000 employees around a shared purpose for innovation and unfolding novel ways for co-creation. Defining innovation is not an easy task.  There are many definitions for innovation, from Oslo Manual to famous ‘innovation experts’ versions. Yet, there is still a missing link in those interpretations that will answer why ‘we’ – as an organization – relate to innovation in our unique story.

This applies to many organizations, and Eczacıbaşı is no exception.

The Eczacıbaşı Story showcases how creating a common discourse for all stakeholders can initiate and sustain meaningful change in an organization.

How might we create an innovation discourse that would align all stakeholders around a common strategic vision?
Chapter I

Articulating And Embedding A Purposeful And
Human-centered Innovation Discourse 

Eczacıbaşı is a well-known Turkish conglomerate with more than 78 years of history, 40 companies, and nearly 12,000 employees. Their products shaped people’s daily practices for a better and healthier life. Yet, the contextual gap between the Group’s history and perspective on innovation still existed. To address this gap would help Eczacıbaşı Group to align innovation efforts among all companies and unfold novel ways for collaboration and co-creation. 

First Things First: Creating A Common Language
Inside The Team

Articulating a purposeful and human-centered innovation discourse is a long journey. Before creating a common language around innovation, Eczacıbaşı Innovation and Entrepreneurship Office -IEO for short- had to align around the core concept itself. Starting with a series of ‘Deep Dive’ Sessions (2- hour meetings where we had perspective-shifting conversations around main concepts and themes regarding innovation) we co-defined IEO’s role and responsibilities.

Discourse At The Intersection: Core & Role Of Eczacıbaşı Group

In order to develop a discourse that will shape the innovation strategy of Eczacıbaşı Group, we first rolled our sleeves to discover the unique innovation potential. This potential should adopt an ‘infinite mindset’ and be meaningful considering the organization’s past, present, and future. To articulate the discourse and find the potential, our research questions focused on three pillars:

1. What was the ‘core’ which led the Eczacıbaşı Group’s success and early innovations in the past?
2. What is the ‘role’ Eczacıbaşı Group should play in the future?
3. What are the current barriers and motivations for innovation today?

The core and the role would create the foundation for the unique discourse, while the barriers and motivations would allow IEO to embed the discourse into daily practices. 

Our research included:
– One-on-one interviews
with multiple stakeholders to discover how the core and role of the Group are perceived today.
– Corporate document analysis to find traces of how innovation is defined from different perspectives.
– Four workshops with around 120 employees from different companies, roles, and experiences to define what innovation means today and discover the barriers and motivations.
– Corporate history study to get a deeper understanding of the organization’s core.

Articulating An Innovation Discourse

Through our analysis of research findings, we articulated a purposeful and human-centered narrative describing how the story of Eczacıbaşı related to innovative & entrepreneurial mindset, created an impact in Turkish society with innovation, and how this approach could shape the future strategies of the Group. This narrative has enabled us to craft a unique innovation discourse for Eczacıbaşı Group:

“New solutions that transform lifestyle habits for the good of all.”

The Reveal and Expand

Now it was the time to share this narrative within the Eczacıbaşı Group and take actions to design mechanisms that will allow innovation to flourish.

First to reveal the new perspective on innovation, The Director of IEO Emre Eczacıbaşı shared the new discourse and perspective with the Group at the annual year-end meeting. Then, to understand how the discourse could further be translated into Group companies’ vision and strategies, multiple ‘Roundtable’ sessions were conducted; more than 200 people joined the discussion around the new innovation discourse and helped companies to align their priorities accordingly.

Creating A Task Force

Through the research phase and roundtable sessions, many people around the organization had a chance to identify key development areas on how to enhance innovation in Eczacıbaşı Group. These discussions also had another purpose: inviting change agents from multiple companies to be part of the IEO Task Force. The task force would be working to embed the new innovation perspective to the ongoing core mechanisms of IEO. As part of these endeavors together with the task force we: 

1. Redesigned an iconic experience: Eczacıbaşı Innovation Awards.
2. Redesigned the organization-wide idea submission platform: InoCino
3. Realized the potential of the innovation discourse in pandemic and kicked off the ‘15th Rule Project’ to initiate innovative entrepreneurship projects.

Redesigning an Iconic Experience: Innovation Awards

Iconic experiences help fundamental concepts come to life. With Innovation Awards, Eczacıbaşı Group has been highlighting the importance of innovation since 1999. But with the new discourse, it was time to redefine the purpose and redesign the experience. So, we developed a new experience and strategy for the Awards through a team of 17 employees from the IEO Task Force —  to lay out the fundamentals of the new approach.

Redesigning The Group-wide Idea Generation Mechanism: InoCino

InoCino is a group-wide idea generation mechanism launched in 2008. InoCino needed to transform from an idea submission innovative ideas can be nurtured. 15 employees from the IEO Task Force came together to create a new purpose and strategy for InoCino through design research, analysis, and collaborative ideation.

Realizing the Potential of The Innovation Discourse in Pandemic: ‘15th Rule Project’

2020 was the year of the coronavirus pandemic, the sudden break in our everyday lives made us realize how Eczacıbaşı Group’s new innovation discourse (“New solutions that transform lifestyle habits for the good of all.”)  serves as a great opportunity to increase the well-being of many with innovative solutions. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, the Turkish Ministry of Health published 14 Rules that guide people to follow hygiene and social distancing practices to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Within this context, we asked a catalytic question to ignite innovative ideas:

What if we were to take this list one step further with a new rule aimed at transforming our shared lifestyle habits? 

Around this question, we devised a digital discussion inside the Group where four key “how might we?” questions emerged. The project evolved into an in-house entrepreneurship program and together with other stakeholders, we helped the teams to come up with six project ideas. The ideas were pitched to the Board members and three of them received funding to be implemented.

Chapter II

Creating Success Stories Out Of Innovation Discourse

Articulating and embedding the innovation discourse was only the beginning for IEO. We are now focused on developing actions which will make the innovation discourse widely shared in the Group, to create new success stories out of the new perspective.

Connect with us to learn more about the project.

View other stories.