The primary Timberland’s strength refers to the company’s approach to implementing innovations and creative ideas. From the beginning of its existence, Timberland’s workers were aimed at producing high-quality footwear, ensuring its comfort for their clients. For instance, they launched the production of waterproof boots which customers could dump into the water many times and avoid any leaks (Kanter & Raffaelli, 2015). This was one of Timberland’s ideas that lead it to success. The others breakthrough projects that made the firm popular were hiking boots and casual boat shoes. These three innovative ideas provided a solid ground for the company’s further development, success, and sustainability.
Furthermore, Timberland’s next strength relates to staying focused on customers’ needs. Having a customer-centric approach, the company concentrates on currents trends and people’s desires to create the most innovative and suitable designs (Kanter & Raffaelli, 2015). Their industry is perfect in terms of material science: they conduct much research in physics and biomechanics to optimize their footwear for people and manufacture both comfortable and fancy items.
The major weakness of Timberland’s strategy is that product samples moved forward with the final products and were expected the line teams to accept the new project fully. The failure is that the company spent little time developing the product and its design. Therefore, having almost zero involvement, the line teams were not ready to place a new collection. This resulted in poor market penetration and a disruption of the product line, which involved a lot of resources and costs. Many products are seasonally remanufactured, which makes them highly profitable for the company, and revenues continue to increase. Spending time on innovative projects requires time and resources to get the benefits that await them, which creates enormous resistance to changes.
What is more, the hasty Invention Factory (IF) involvement is the second significant Timberland’s weakness. For its rush intervention strategies, the company did not manage to succeed in the market. Chris Heffernan thought that if IF focused more on ideas and buy-ins, the acceptance level would have been much higher (Kanter & Raffaelli, 2015). Hence, its engagement slowed down some of the company’s processes.
The company widely acquires and uses knowledge, information, and new ideas to improve innovation processes and succeed on the market. Timberland pursues to develop high standards of production and cares for its social responsibility. For instance, they added environmental concerns to their social responsibility ad collaborated with China and Vietnam in order to use environmentally friendly resources for footwear manufacturing.
In addition, Timberland created cross-functional product teams responsible for investigating clients’ interests and developing designs suitable for them. Innovativeness is the most significant source of inspiration for the company since they explore the market to produce unique items (Garvin et al., 2008; Kanter & Raffaelli, 2015). Therefore, cross-functional teams work together on finding out the newest trends and materials that would make the company’s revenue growth.
Global customer segmentation and brand marketing have become the primary development areas. According to Kanter and Raffaelli (2015), “they researched customer segments around the world, tested hypotheses about the customer needs, and attempted to carve out new segments that Timberland could serve” (p. 6). Moreover, the advanced concept teams were created to focus on more creative long-terms ideas in order to produce major breakthrough products and prove its leading market positions.
Since IF had 20% of the company’s budget, its representatives considered IF influential and decided to redefine its mission statement aiming to facilitate innovations (Kanter & Raffaelli, 2015). It was vital since they wanted to develop better in-line adoption. They also created a new four-phase innovation process that would help to distribute responsibilities among the segmented groups. These changes were vital for IF because they strived to improve the shoe fit, increase gains and margins, and improve service. The IF’s involvement in Timberland’s production involved creating precise fit shoes which would be comfortable to any customer (Kanter & Raffaelli, 2015). In general, IF generated ideas on how to supply high-quality products without entirely restructuring the company’s manufacturing techniques. Changing the mission statement and objectives helped IF to infuse new ideas and impact the company’s performance. Yet, IF had to take a few steps back and reflect upon its activity in Timberland’s projects.
Timberland keeps on pursuing success and contemplates different strategies on how to expands its influence and receive worldwide success. Primarily, the company may boost its sales by promoting its brand among the young generation because they are the primary target audience. Moreover, it is known that youths are obsessed with brands; hence, collaboration with an influencer, blogger, or celebrity will increase the company’s revenue and create an appeal (Christensen et al., 2010). In addition, the use of eco-friendly materials for producing their item lines can ensure global appeal. An essential step in brand promotion is to link products and goals. Brands that promote social or environmental causes but make products without considering these issues run the risk of sounding disingenuous (Bettencourt & Bettencourt, 2011). This can be propped by launching an ecological campaign aimed at promoting awareness of climate change problems.
Bettencourt, L., & Bettencourt, C. (2011). Innovating on the cheap. Harvard Business Review, 89, 88-94.
Christensen, C., Kaufman, S., & Shih, W. (2010). Innovation killers: How financial tools destroy your capacity to do new thing. Harvard Business Review, 86(1), 98-105.
Garvin, D., Edmondson, A., & Gino, F. (2008). Is Yours a Learning Organization? Harvard Business Review, 86(3), 109-116.
Kanter, R., & Raffaelli, R. (2015). Innovation at Timberland: Thinking outside the box. Harvard Business School.
Responses to Questions
What are the two greatest strengths and two greatest weaknesses of Timberland’s approach to innovation? Why?
The information about remanufacturing presumed repairing shoes using new soles which are produced by Timberland as well. Therefore, this idea was a conclusion from the Innovation at Timberland’s case.
One important component of what Timberland does as part of its innovation process includes acquiring and using knowledge, information, and data. Explain some of these and discuss why these are important for new ideas given the type of industry and market Timberland is operating in.
The connection between information gathering and social responsibility is that by collecting data about customers, marketing techniques, and other vital information the company promotes itself on the market and attracts more clients and investors.
One of the final questions asked in the case asks about the future of innovation at Timberland. Swartz and Pucker ask, “What, if anything, should they change to get the biggest bang for their boot?” If you were a star manager at Timberland, what answer would you give them?
Christensen et al. describe the financial tools that influence firm’s revenue. The idea of using these tools and mixing them with generational branding was a conclusion drawn from this and other sources.