Jeff DeWitt

Jeff DeWitt
Senior Director, Engineering Solutions for Global Managed Solutions
Location: Troy, MI

Jeff DeWItt is the Senior Director of Engineering Solutions for Global Managed Solutions at KellyOCG. Jeff joined KellyOCG in 2009 and is responsible for the architecture of engineering outsourced solutions. Jeff holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Pennsylvania State University and a master's degree in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia. He has over 25 years of experience in product engineering, manufacturing automation engineering, production operations, and quality management.

Being in the business of innovation

If ‘innovation is the single most important ingredient in the modern economy’ (as The Economist put it), then engineers could be considered the chefs de cuisine. And yet, those companies in the business of innovation – engineering and technology firms – must contend with the same organizational barriers that frustrate progress in non-STEM businesses:

  • Risk aversion on the part of management and investors
  • Low-trust organizational cultures that reject collaboration and creativity)
  • Unilateral communication
  • Poor implementation
  • Lack of measurement (such as time to market, market share and numbers of attempts)

In many companies, the economic downturn has all but snuffed out management’s encouragement of, and funding for, innovation. Widespread downsizing has increased individual workloads, to the detriment of time spent coming up with new ideas and innovative initiatives. And as a long-term pursuit that does not attract revenue, the default position on innovation seems to be that it is a ‘nice to have’, not a critical driver of growth and results.

This is despite the proliferation of CEOs and leaders worldwide touting innovation as their firm’s top business priority, and creativity as the Number 1 ‘leadership competency' in today’s business climate. It is also in spite of the proof that companies that innovate produce better results than those who don’t.

Here are just three examples of innovation has paid the bills for organizations:

1. After a culture of innovation was instilled at Proctor & Gamble, the company’s value increased by more than $100 billion and grew its consumer brand portfolio from 10 billion-dollar entities to 22.
2. In 1974, 3M scientist Art Fry came up with the Post-It Note during his ‘15 per cent time’, a program at 3M that allows employees to use a portion of their paid time to hatch their own ideas.
3. The Campbell's Soup innovation of ready-to-eat microwaveable soup opened up a $500 million market by creating a product that was relevant to a whole new generation of consumers.

For many reasons, organizations must directly address those issues that are endemic to corporations and which frustrate innovation and progress. To find out how this can be done, see the full ebook here: Let the Innovators Innovate