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Interview with Francesc Güell by Responsablia

Following is the summary of the interview for Responsablia blog. You can see the full interview at:

Interview with Francesc Güell by Responsablia

Responsablia: How should quality and innovation be integrated into the company’s strategy? Who or what people must push it and how to do it?

FG:

I think that both issues must be implicitly or explicitly integrated in the formulation of the strategy, they must be part of it as an important premise. Innovation is a basic process for the future of all activity and quality as a cross process to support operational processes.

The whole strategic process must be driven by the management team, communicated and shared by all, as broadly as possible.

Strategy on one page, is a very useful way to facilitate the elaboration, the communication and the comprehension of the strategy. (1)

Responsablia: Quality and innovation, in your opinion, should they be part of the company culture?

FG:

For me, the culture of the company is built, or has been built, based on the efforts, hits and failures, successes and mistakes of all. There is a kind of ‘record’ of all this that makes up a specific story and this story reflects a good part of the culture of an organization. But this is not a static thing, it is modelled continuously. That is why I usually talk about organizational maturity, in the sense that organizations can guide a maturing process towards where they want to focus their culture and that this can be changed or reoriented by phases. It is not an effortless process and each phase usually lasts 2 to 3 years, although it can be accelerated. (2)

Any change begins with a leadership and succession of facts, acts and attitudes, rather than theoretical formulations, writings, etc. The people in the organization observe the decisions that are made and the attitudes of those who take them. Depending on their perception, they participate.

Innovation, in this aspect, stumbles as well as knowledge, with many barriers. Internal and external barriers. (3)

In Spain, the external barriers are very strong and of a cultural nature. Therefore, the first to innovate or create an innovative culture would be to identify and study the barriers we have and how we can overcome them.

Then comes to understand innovation as a strategic process to build and improve, rather than as geniality or set of geniuses, exclusively a technology issue or a question of a specific area or department such as R & D.

It’s everyone’s topic. But it must be structured and defined as a process, with the necessary vision of the future. (4)

In addition, innovation should be an agile, open process, oriented necessarily to the outside and to the client, designed from the concept of agility. That’s why we talk about ‘agile innovation’

Like in quality, we need to measure the process. We have developed an innovation assessment tool, which would be a barometer of the capacity to of companies to innovate and to improve the innovation process management as well. (5)

Responsablia: In relation to R & SS, (Social Responsibility & Sustainability), in your opinion, can we talk about quality and responsible and sustainable innovation?

FG:

I believe that Quality and RS & S are transversal support processes, which are required for any activity.

Regarding innovation, I see it more as one of the two basic processes of any company or organization: one is the operational process, day to day, (productive, supply chain, etc.) It’s the bread of today. It is the performance that we usually measure.

Innovation is the oriented towards the future and is the bread of tomorrow. But both processes must work simultaneously and share resources. That’s why I usually talk about ‘innovation and performance in harmony’. (6)

The support processes are intended to facilitate as much as possible the two main processes. Quality and RS & S as cross-cutting activities are measuring the processes and results, and even how should we use certain resources, valuing their cost in all aspects, current and future, tangible and intangible.

Responsablia: In your opinion, quality materials, RS & S and innovation, as a business culture: Are they sufficiently developed in the undergraduate or postgraduate training?

FG:

I am not sufficiently familiar with the numerous university study programs that exist, which are many. Therefore, in this sense, I can’t answer this question.

What I do believe, is that there is a lack of continuing education and this is an issue that concerns companies, especially medium and small ones.

There is also a lack of science/technology connection with the companies. In the innovation chain, which encompasses everything from basic research and the conception of new technologies, until its launching as products or services in the market, there are areas where a conceptual idea needs to be converted into a prototype to demonstrate that it works, to evaluate production costs and define the equipment and processes necessary for manufacturing. It is at this stage that organizations, public, private or mixed institutions, being bridges between research, base technology and the company, could support the evaluation of potential viability, the value of ideas and provide information and advice about the best way to go. They would be equally important to help companies to make decisions to stop some projects and focus their finances on other projects with better chance of success.

In addition, in the University in Spain, in general, we have seen an increased number of communications and publications, but this is not reflected in patents or in the exploitation of licenses. (7)

Author

Francesc Guell is the owner of this site. He was CEO and director of international companies in specialty chemicals and pharmaceuticals. The last 12 years was associated with international consulting groups, providing advice and support to businesses on topics such as innovation and agile innovation processes, operational excellence, knowledge management, change management, strategy and integrated business management. Currently creates and presents courses and workshops on these topics. He graduated as a chemical engineer, postgraduate from ESADE Business School in Business Administration and Master in Knowledge Management. He participated in numerous programs, seminars and ESADE, IESE, EADA, APD and MCE (Management Centre Europe). He is author of articles, presentations and courses on innovation in strategic management, integrated business models, knowledge management, performance measurement, change management and excellence in business processes. See more in: Professional Profile