Kodak Alaris Adopts Lean, Start-Up Approach to Accelerate Innovation

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ROCHESTER, N.Y., April 3, 2017 – Kodak Alaris is among a growing number of technology firms intensely focused on accelerating innovation, primarily through companywide programs that source ideas from employees. The incubator-style approach, which has become increasingly popular with tech startups, encourages employees to come up with, test and pitch ideas to senior management. The ultimate goal? To significantly shorten the time between idea generation and large-scale commercialization of products and services. Companies like AT&T[i] are among the high-profile firms setting aggressive goals to shorten the innovation life-cycle from years to just months.
“Innovation is not the job of the lone visionary or the futurist, nor is it simply about brainstorming new ideas,” said Rick Costanzo, President and General Manager, Kodak Alaris Information Management. “Innovation is a process to search for and transform an idea into a solution that provides customer value beyond existing alternatives. It’s everyone’s responsibility and needs to be an integral part of the culture for us to achieve our vision.”
Earlier this year, Kodak Alaris established an Innovation and New Markets Team to create a process for empowering employees to identify, develop and submit ideas for new products and solutions. It’s an approach that other companies including Ericsson, Adobe, and LinkedIn have successfully implemented to make it easier for anyone in the organization to turn an idea into reality.  Kodak Alaris is counting on similar results.
“Kodak Alaris’ Information Management (IM) division has selected the cloud as its core platform for the future,” said Costanzo. “A tremendous amount of innovation is required to succeed as a cloud-based solutions provider. This new initiative encourages innovation to occur at a faster pace by providing a framework for idea generation and execution on a broad scale to increase our probability of success.”
The firm’s innovation initiative also has an important external component. Kodak Alaris is forging partnerships with leading universities and business incubators. Nine students from the University of Rochester (UR) and Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) are participating in Kodak Alaris’ Innovation Fellowship Program. The students are helping product development teams with market analysis, research and initial prototyping of new solutions. In return, they gain valuable hands-on experience working with an established technology company alongside seasoned professionals.
“Participating in the program has been an empowering experience,” said Fernando Zvietcovich, PhD candidate in the Biomedical Ultrasound Program at UR. “Learning the Lean Launchpad[ii] methodology and having exposure to the incubator environment at High-Tech Rochester has helped me develop more confidence about formulating and presenting ideas. I may end up launching my own start-up in the future.”
As Kodak Alaris “walks the talk” of a true technology startup, a grass roots effort among employees is gaining momentum, suggesting the entrepreneurial spirit is catching. “I see this as a change in mindset that started when COO Jeff Goodman and CEO Marc Jourlait took the time to listen and encouraged employees to think and act differently,” said Bruce Link, Director of Innovation & New Markets, Kodak Alaris IM. “This is both a bottom-up and top-down movement. The Innovation Team continues to drive it but none of this would be possible without the commitment of our employees.”
The 12-week program, presented in partnership with High-Tech Rochester, concludes April 28.  Media are invited to observe and conduct interviews with participants on Friday, April 7 and Friday, April 14 from 8:30 – 10:00 a.m.
For more information, please contact Jonathan Ghent.
[i] SOURCE: Five Examples of Companies with Internal Innovation Programs
[ii] The Lean Launchpad course was developed at Stanford University by Steve Blank out of his dissatisfaction with the way business schools teach students entrepreneurship. It’s based on the belief that entrepreneurship is a series of experiments. High-Tech Rochester teaches Lean Launchpad to students in Rochester, NY.

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